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Baylor, Stanford, UConn, Notre Dame earn No. 1 seeds in NCAA women's basketball tournament
Baylor, Connecticut, Notre Dame and Stanford are the No. 1 seeds in the women's NCAA tournament.
The Lady Bears will try and become the seventh team to go through a season unbeaten. They've already topped the Huskies and Irish this season at home.
After losing in the regional final last year, junior phenom Brittney Griner and Baylor have been on a mission all season to try and win a national championship. They potentially could be the first team ever to win 40 games in a year. Coach Kim Mulkey only cares about one thing ' a second national title for the school.
"We started hearing about that, and it's never been a goal of ours," Mulkey said of winning 40 games. "Our simple goal is to win a national championship."
Standing in the way could be Tennessee.
The Lady Vols have won eight national championships but haven't been to the Final Four in three seasons. They pledged at the beginning of the season that they would not go a fourth consecutive year without reaching the Final Four ' something they've never done ' and would try to win a national title to honor Pat Summitt. The coach announced in August she'd been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.
Summitt's squad will face her alma mater ' Tennessee-Martin ' in the opener.
The basketball madness gets started Saturday ' the first step en route to the Final Four, which begins April 1 in Denver.
Connecticut hopes to win its eighth national championship (tying Tennessee) and will start with a matchup against Prairie View.
UConn coach Geno Auriemma told the Huskies' faithful in the preseason that this team wouldn't win a national championship. But his young team has developed over the past five months, and Connecticut looks poised to make another run after beating Notre Dame for the Big East tournament title.
The Irish also have been focused on winning a title after falling just short last season, losing in the championship game to Texas A&M, which is a No. 3 seed in the Raleigh region. The two teams could meet in the regional final.
Notre Dame, which will open up at home against Liberty, reached the national title game last year by knocking off UConn in the Final Four. It was the fourth straight season that UConn made the Final Four. The two teams, who already have played three times this year, could meet for a fourth time in Denver.
The Cardinal also have advanced four straight seasons to the Final Four, and coach Tara VanDerveer is looking to get her first title in 20 years. She'll begin with a trip East to Norfolk, Va. to face Hampton. Stanford hasn't been east of the Rockies since 2001, when they went to Oklahoma.
Standing in the way of a fifth trip to the Final Four could be second-seed Duke, which lost in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. The Blue Devils are led by talented freshman post Elizabeth Williams and sophomore guard Chelsea Grey and will face Samford in the opening round.
Another intriguing team in that region is third-seeded St. John's, which ended UConn's 99-game homecourt winning streak in February. The Red Storm have won 14 of their last 17 games after falling to the Huskies in the semifinals of the Big East tournament. Third seed St. John's faces Creighton in its opener.
In the Fresno region, eight-seed West Virginia plays No. 9 Texas; No. 5 South Carolina meets 12th-seed Eastern Michigan; No. 4 Purdue faces 13th-seed South Dakota State; sixth-seed Oklahoma hosts No. 11 Michigan; and No. 7 Vanderbilt hosts No. 10 Middle Tennessee.
In the Bridgeport region, No. 8 Kansas State will play ninth-ranked Princeton, which became the first Ivy League team to make the Top 25 on Monday; fifth-seed LSU hosts No. 12 San Diego State; No. 4 Penn State plays 13th-ranked UTEP; No. 6 Rutgers visits 11th-seed Gonzaga; No. 3 Miami plays 14th-seed Idaho State; No. 7 Green Bay takes on 10th-seed Iowa State; and second-seed Kentucky plays No. 15 McNeese State.
In the Raleigh region, No. 8 California will play ninth-seed Iowa; No. 5 St. Bonaventure will take on No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast in a matchup of NCAA first-timers; fourth-seed Georgia meets No. 13 Marist; No. 6 Arkansas faces 11th-seed Dayton; No. 3 Texas A&M plays 14th-seed Albany; seventh-seed Louisville faces No. 10 Michigan State and second-seed Maryland hosts Navy.
In the Des Moines regional, eighth-seed Ohio State will play No. 9 Florida; No. 5 Georgetown faces 12th-seed Fresno State; fourth-seeded Georgia Tech takes on No. 13 Sacred Heart. Sixth-seed Nebraska will meet No. 11 Kansas; No. 3 Delaware will play No. 14 Arkansas-Little Rock; and No. 7 DePaul takes on 10th-seed BYU.