By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer
UConn is the top seed in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
The Huskies (34-0) will be trying for a record ninth NCAA title, which would break a tie with Tennessee for most all-time. Standing in the way of Connecticut’s run could be Notre Dame. The Irish were also unbeaten this season and are expected to earn a top seed.
Despite not playing this season, the former Big East rivals know plenty about each other having met 12 times over the previous three seasons.
Tennessee and South Carolina 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 Lady Vols, who won the SEC tournament championship, are the top seed in the Louisville Regional and would also like nothing more than being the first to win a 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.
Tennessee lost to Louisville in the regional final last season and could have to beat a Cardinals team that lost just once at home this year and that was to UConn.
Like their SEC rivals, the Gamecocks also may have to win on an opponent’s home court to reach the Final Four. If the seeds hold true, they would face Stanford, which hasn’t lost at home this season. Before that a potential rematch with North Carolina and a stellar freshman class led by Diamond Deshields, who beat the Gamecocks in December.
Connecticut could have to beat host Nebraska in the regional semifinals if both teams make it that far. The Huskies have made it to the Final Four in a record six straight seasons. They hope to make it to Nashville to keep that streak alive.
If the Huskies do win the national championship it would be the fifth time they went undefeated in a season. This would be the first time that they won 40 games, joining Baylor as the only teams ever to accomplish that feat.
The defending national champions have won games by an average of 36 points. They open up at home against Prairie View A&M on Sunday night. The Lady Panthers became the ninth team to reach the NCAA tournament with a losing record when they won the Southwestern Conference championship.
Other teams in Connecticut’s region include second-seeded Duke. The Blue Devils have been hampered by injuries with star guards Chelsea Gray and Alexis Jones sidelined for the season. UConn blew out Duke by 22 points in mid-December.
Tennessee will be making its 33rd straight appearance in the NCAA tournament, getting into the field ever year. Five teams will be making their first trip _ Akron, North Dakota, South Dakota, Winthrop and Wright State.
Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)