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Published: Tuesday, 3/16/2010

Connecticut women get No. 1 seed

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Connecticut's path to another perfect season could include a renewal of the most heated rivalry in women's college basketball.

The undefeated Huskies earned the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA women's basketball tournament last night and will open against Southern in Norfolk.

Geno Auriemma's Huskies have won an NCAA record 72 straight games, but none of them have come against Pat Summitt's Lady Vols. The two pre-eminent teams in the sport broke off their annual matchup in 2007 in a testy split.

The two teams could meet in the national semifinals in San Antonio if both come through their regions.

"I'm not surprised that they would line us up with Connecticut if we both come out," said Summitt, whose team earned a record 20th No. 1 seed. "They want to see that matchup. We're a long way from thinking about that matchup."

Auriemma isn't focusing on that game - yet.

"I would venture to say that after that game is over, if we are fortunate enough to win it, I think there will be a lot of coaches and players on our team that will be smiling a little bit," Auriemma said.

Ten teams have entered the NCAA tournament unbeaten; only five have emerged victorious. UConn and Auriemma have done it three times, including last season.

Stanford and Nebraska earned the other No. 1 seeds.

The Cardinal, the last team to beat Connecticut, earned their first No. 1 seed since 1998. Tennessee earned the No. 1 seed a year after getting bounced from the tournament in the first round. And Nebraska has its first No. 1 seed in school history after winning its first 30 games this season. The Cornhuskers lost their only game of the season in the Big 12 tournament semifinals.

The Huskies (33-0), too, have run through their opponents this season, winning by an average of 35 points. In search of its seventh national championship, UConn is looking to become the fifth team to win consecutive titles. Tennessee last did it in 2007 and '08.

Awaiting the Huskies in the second round could be former assistant Tonya Cardoza and the Temple Owls. They face James Madison in the first round.

While other teams look to make history in the tournament, the Lady Vols had enough of that last year. Tennessee, a No. 5 seed last season, lost in the first round to Ball State, marking the first time in the program's history that the team didn't advance out of the opening weekend.

Tennessee will open up at home against Austin Peay (15-17) in the Memphis region.

Atlantic Coast Conference champion Duke earned a No. 2 seed and will host the first two rounds. The Blue Devils will play Mid-Eastern champion Hampton in the opener. Lousiana State meets Hartford in the other game at Cameron.

If Duke gets through to the regional semifinals, a meeting with former coach Gail Goestenkors and Texas could await.

Five teams will be making their debut in the NCAA tournament - Dayton, Princeton, Arkansas-Little Rock, Portland State, and Northern Iowa.

Stanford (31-1) will open this year's tournament hosting UC Riverside.



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