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Women's college basketball tourney announced

Monday, March 17, 2008

By DOUG FEINBERG

AP Sports Writer

Connecticut's four seniors have never been to the Final Four. To get there before their college careers end, the Huskies must potentially get past Big East rival Rutgers in the Greensboro Regional.

The No. 1 seeded Huskies (32-1) will open against No. 16 Cornell on Sunday in Bridgeport, Conn.

Other No. 1 seeds are North Carolina, Tennessee and Maryland.

Connecticut, ranked atop the AP poll for 12 of the final 13 weeks, is hoping to get to the Final Four for the first time since 2004. The Huskies lost to LSU in the regional final last season.

"Connecticut being the overall No. 1 got first shot at regional selection," committee chair Judy Southard said. "As we moved on through placing the teams in the bracket, when we got to Rutgers they also were shipped to Greensboro.

"We spent quite a bit of time studying that and trying to find a way to avoid that happening. Once we really got to analyzing it, we got to an impasse if we were to protect the balance of the bracket."

If the Huskies don't get to the Final Four -- April 6-8 in Tampa, Fla. -- it will be the first Connecticut senior class in 20 years to not have played in at least the national semifinals.

No. 2 seed Rutgers handed Connecticut its lone loss during the season, beating the Huskies on Feb. 5 in a Big East matchup. Rutgers lost in the national championship game last season to Tennessee.

"With so many teams to choose from it's kind of ironic," Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said. "I guess Rutgers is the number-eight seed in the country? I find that hard to believe, but I guess they are. If I were them, I'd be questioning a little bit what's going on."

Other games in the Greensboro regional are No. 8 Texas vs. No. 9 Minnesota, No. 5 Old Dominion vs. No. 12 Liberty, No. 4 Virginia vs. No. 13 UC Santa Barbara, No. 6 George Washington vs. No. 11 Auburn, No. 3 California vs. No. 14 San Diego, No. 7 Iowa State vs. No. 10 Georgia Tech, and No. 2 Rutgers vs. No. 15 Robert Morris.

Defending champion Tennessee is the top seed in the Oklahoma City regional. The Lady Vols' bid for back-to-back national championships begins Sunday against Oral Roberts.

Others in the Oklahoma City regional are No. 8 Utah vs. No. 9 Purdue, No. 5 Notre Dame vs. No. 12 Southern Methodist, No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Illinois State, No. 6 Arizona State vs. No. 11 Temple, No. 3 Duke vs. No. 14 Murray State, No. 7 Syracuse vs. No. 10 Hartford, and No. 2 Texas A&M vs. No. 15 Texas-San Antonio.

North Carolina earned the top seed in the New Orleans Regional. The Tar Heels open on Sunday against No. 16 Bucknell. The Tar Heels ran through the Atlantic Coast Conference undefeated. Their only two losses came against Tennessee and Connecticut.

Other games in the New Orleans regional are No. 8 Georgia vs No. 9 Iowa, No. 5 Kansas State vs. No. 12 Chattanooga, No. 4 Louisville vs. No. 13 Miami, Ohio, No. 6 Ohio State vs. No. 11 Florida State, No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 14 East Tennessee State, No. 7 Marist vs. No. 10 DePaul, and No. 2 LSU vs. No. 15 Jackson State.

LSU has reached the Final Four the past four seasons.

Despite losing in the ACC tournament semifinals to Duke, Maryland is the top seed in the Spokane regional. The Terrapins will face Coppin State in the first round on Sunday.

"I tell you, we're ecstatic," said Maryland coach Brenda Frese of the No. 1 seed. "We obviously feel like you play the entire season for this moment. The fact that our non-conference schedule really prepared us for now, to play in one of the toughest conferences, to go 30-3. I think it's a tribute to our team and to our program, just how hard we worked throughout the course of the entire season."

Frese delivered twin boys in late February, but is back as the Terrapins seek their second national championship in three seasons.

Others in the Spokane regional are No. 8 Nebraska vs. No. 9 Xavier, No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 12 New Mexico, No. 4 Vanderbilt vs. No. 13 Montana, No. 6 Pittsburgh vs. No. 11 Wyoming, No. 3 Baylor vs. No. 14 Fresno State, No. 7 UTEP vs. No. 10 Western Kentucky, and No. 2 Stanford vs. No. 15 Cleveland State.

Stanford is trying to become the first Pac-10 team to make the Final Four in a decade.

"I think sometimes it's hard (because) people don't see us play," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "If the world was fair, it would turn the other way. We have a great team, great leaders. We have great players. We're really excited about playing in the tournament."

The Big East and Big 12 each have a record-tying eight teams in the field. The Big East set the record last season. The ACC has six tournament berths.



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