Huskies, Irish, Lady Vols, Gamecocks earn 1 seeds

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 18, 2014 at 3:22 am •  Published: March 18, 2014
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Geno Auriemma and his UConn Huskies have run through their opponents all season.

Few teams have been able to challenge the Hall of Fame coach and the Huskies, who have gone 34-0 while winning by an average of 36 points.

But now is when it matters. Auriemma has always considered a season's success on winning championships, instilling that in his teams. Six more victories would cap off another perfect season and give the Huskies a record ninth NCAA championship.

"We know what we want to do," UConn sophomore star Breanna Stewart said. "We know that this is the best time for basketball and it's the most important time for basketball, but we keep it to ourself most of the time."

For that to happen, Stewart and the Huskies may have to beat longtime rival Notre Dame. The Irish also finished the regular season unbeaten and have felt almost unappreciated with most of the talk centered on the Huskies despite being the 13th women's team to go undefeated in the regular season.

"I like it because we can get a chip on our shoulder and head into the tournament with a bit of chip," she said.

Even though UConn and Notre Dame didn't play this season, the two teams know plenty about each other having met 12 times over the previous three seasons. Notre Dame isn't intimidated by Connecticut; the Irish have won seven of the past nine meetings with the Huskies.

"It was very unusual to go through a whole season without playing them, we're so used to it, three times every year," McGraw said. "We've gotten pretty good at beating them the last couple of years."

Before the potential meeting of unbeatens, the two might have to go through SEC powers Tennessee and South Carolina, who also earned No. 1 seeds. While it's the 22nd time that the Lady Vols have earned a top spot, it's the first for the Gamecocks. The Huskies, Lady Vols and Gamecocks all could have to play on an opponent's home court with a trip to Nashville on the line. Stanford, Notre Dame, Louisville and Nebraska, who are all hosting regionals, were a combined 52-3 at home this season.

The Lady Vols, who won the SEC tournament championship, are the top seed in the Louisville Regional and would also like nothing more than to break the tie with Connecticut and win their ninth NCAA title. They open up against Northwestern State and will be trying to end a five-year drought of not making the Final Four. The Lady Vols won't have an easy path. West Virginia is the second seed. Host Louisville is the three seed and Maryland is the four.

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