UConn, Duke, Tennessee, LSU Earn Top Women's Seeds

March 16, 2003

AP Sports Writer

LSU joined regulars Connecticut, Tennessee and Duke as No. 1 seeds Sunday inthe NCAA women’s basketball tournament, which might have some suspense now thatUConn actually lost a game.

It’s the first No. 1 for LSU (27-3), which beat Tennessee in the finals ofthe Southeastern Conference tournament and tops the bracket in the WestRegional.

Connecticut (31-1), the defending national champion, was made the top seedin the East, Tennessee (28-4) in the Mideast and Duke (31-1) in the Midwest.

UConn, a No. 1 seed for the ninth time in 10 years, remains the favorite forthe national title, though the Huskies no longer are trying to extend a longwinning streak.

Their 52-48 loss to Villanova in the Big East tournament finals broke a70-game streak that was the longest in NCAA women’s history, showed that UConnwas vulnerable on a given night and gave hope to others.

“I think this is probably the most exciting year of all,” Duke coach GailGoestenkors said. “Because I think so many teams can get to the Final Four andwin the national title. It’s wide open.”

Connecticut, which also won national titles in 1995 and 2000, opens at homeSunday against Boston University, which made the NCAA tournament for the firsttime and as a reward gets a team stinging from its first loss since the 2001Final Four.

The Huskies would advance to the East Regional in Dayton if they win theirfirst two games.

Tennessee, a top seed for the 14th time in 16 years, could play its way tothe Final Four in Atlanta without leaving home. The Lady Vols are hostingfirst- and second-round games and also have the Mideast Regional on theircourt. They open against Alabama State on Saturday.

Duke and LSU have a much more challenging road to the Final Four becauseneither will play at home in the tournament and both could play games on theopponent’s home court.

Duke, a No. 1 seed for the third straight year, plays Georgia State inRaleigh, N.C., on Sunday and also would play the second round in Raleigh.

The Blue Devils then would head to the Pit at New Mexico for the MidwestRegional. New Mexico is the No. 6 seed in that regional and is hosting first-and second-round games.

LSU would advance to the West Regional at Stanford if it survives the firsttwo rounds and might have to play the third-seeded Cardinal in the regionalfinals. LSU goes to Eugene, Ore., for its subregional and plays Southwest TexasState in the first round Saturday.

Previously, first- and second-round games were played on the courts of the16 highest seeds. The sites for those games this year were chosen last summer,with the agreement that the host teams would be placed there if they made thetournament.

Duke and LSU will play at the only two sites that don’t have a home team -North Carolina State and Oregon.

Subregionals will be played Saturday and Monday at Colorado, Georgia, NewMexico, Old Dominion, Oregon, Purdue, Stanford and Tennessee.

The other first- and second-round games are Sunday and Tuesday atCincinnati, Connecticut, Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina State,Oklahoma, Penn State and Texas Tech.

The Mideast and Midwest regionals are March 29 and 31, with the East andWest to be played March 30 and April 1. The Final Four is April 6 and 8 at theGeorgia Dome.

Pairings for the national semifinals are Mideast vs. Midwest and East vs.West. That sets up the possibility of Connecticut meeting Duke or Tennessee forthe national championship. The Huskies defeated both this season.

LSU got the nod over Texas as the final No. 1 seed, mainly due to its SECtournament victory over Tennessee, said Cheryl Marra, who chairs the selectioncommittee.

“They played through their conference tournament and they beat another No.1 seed,” Marra said.

Texas is the No. 2 seed in the West and its Big 12 rival, Texas Tech, wasseeded second in the Midwest. Texas won the regular-season league title andbeat Tech in the championship game of the conference tournament.

Villanova’s victory over Connecticut and a 25-5 record helped the Wildcatsbecome the No. 2 seed in the Mideast. Big Ten tournament champion Purdue isseeded second in the East.

The SEC and Big East have the most teams in the tournament with seven each.

Along with LSU and Tennessee, the SEC has Arkansas, Georgia, MississippiState, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. Besides Connecticut and Villanova, theBig East has Boston College, Miami, Notre Dame, Rutgers and Virginia Tech.

The Big Ten got six teams in, while Conference USA matched the more highlyregarded Big 12 with five teams.

Virginia (16-13) became the first at-large team in the tournament with morethan 12 losses. The Cavaliers won eight of their last 10, including an upset ofNorth Carolina.

Miami (18-12) made it after finishing seventh in the Big East, an indicationof the selection committee’s high regard for that league this season.

“They were the No. 3 conference in the country and clearly, night in andnight out, they were playing a very, very tough schedule,” Marra said. “Whatwas impressive is what the Big East teams did against the tough teams out therein the country.”