UConn draws No. 1 in Lincoln Region

The Tar Heels and their stellar freshman class, led by Diamond Deshields, beat the Gamecocks in December. The Tar Heels also could have coach Sylvia Hatchell back on the sidelines at that point. The Hall of Famer battled leukemia during the regular season.

While Hatchell's status is unknown for the tournament, Baylor will be missing coach Kim Mulkey for the first game. She is suspended for the first round game against Western Kentucky for comments she made last season after losing to Louisville in the regional semifinals.

"I haven't talked to the team in depth about me not coaching in the first game," Mulkey said. "I'll watch it on television at home. ... I always tell the team something could happen to me on that sideline and you should be able to coach yourself."

Connecticut could have to beat host Nebraska in the regional semifinals if both teams make it that far.

The host schools were chosen in October. Tennessee didn't bid to host a regional because of a scheduling conflict at Thompson-Boling Arena.

Auriemma said his school didn't bid because he didn't like the concept of having schools host regionals.

"I don't believe in it," Auriemma said. "I don't think it's fair and I told our administration, 'We're passing on it. I don't want to do it.' So we didn't."

Louisville coach Jeff Walz also doesn't like the idea of host sites for the regional rounds. Walz cited Louisville's 82-81 upset of top-ranked Baylor in last year's Oklahoma City Regional semifinal as evidence.

"I use us as an example," Walz said. "If we played Baylor at Baylor last year, I'm not sure we win that game ... I'm a big proponent of playing regionals on neutral floors and I'm excited that we're going to back to."

The decision to have schools host regionals was made in an effort to draw bigger crowds.

Last season, the NCAA posted an average attendance of 5,883 for all tournament games, a 21-percent increase over 2012. But the tournament had posted average attendances of at least 6,400 every year from 1998-2005.

The average attendance for regional rounds last year was 7,100, a 38-percent increase over 2012 but a far cry from 10 to 15 years ago. Average attendance in the regional rounds had been over 8,000 five times in a seven-year stretch from 1998-2004.

"I think home courts are a real part of the women's tournament as opposed to the men's tournament," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said.

Next year, the regionals will be back at neutral sites.

Auriemma has one idea for helping those neutral sites draw big crowds.

"We do have to find, I think, four cities that are hotbeds or potentially, for women's basketball and we've got to give them an opportunity to host the regionals, and give it to them for a few years at a time, instead of just a one-shot deal," Auriemma said.

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.

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.

While those schools will be getting their first taste of the NCAAs, Chattanooga's Jim Foster became the first coach to take four different teams to the NCAA tournament.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 22949801. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 22949801. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 22949801. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 22949801.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...