South Carolina leads projected No. 1 seeds in top-16 reveal for NCAA women's basketball tournament

ByMechelle Voepel via via logo
January 27, 2022, 7:19 PM

South Carolina and Tennessee give the SEC two projected No. 1 seeds in the NCAA women's basketball tournament, and UConn, a No. 3 seed, is not slated to be in the region in Connecticut.

Those were among the major takeaways from the NCAA women's selection committee's first "reveal" of the top 16 seeds, which was released Thursday and based on results through Wednesday. The NCAA will have subsequent reveals on Feb. 10 and Feb. 28.

By the end of Thursday evening, though, two of the projected top 16 had been upset. Tennessee, which had been unbeaten in SEC play, lost 71-61 at Auburn, which got its first win over a top-five team since 1997. It was also Auburn's first league win this season; the Tigers had lost their last 23 SEC games.

And in a night of upsets in the SEC, LSU -- projected as the No. 12 overall seed -- lost 90-76 to an Arkansas squad that hit 13 3-pointers.

The women's tournament follows a so-called "geography curve," where top seeds are slotted into the regionals closest to them. The Gamecocks -- who didn't fall into the SEC's upset trap Thursday, beating Ole Miss 69-40 -- are the overall No. 1 seed and are slotted into the Greensboro Region in North Carolina, about three hours from South Carolina's campus.

NC State is even closer to Greensboro, about an hour and a half away, but the Wolfpack are the No. 3 overall seed and thus slotted to be the top seed in the Bridgeport Region in Connecticut.

Stanford, projected as the No. 2 overall seed, is slotted to stay west as the top seed in the Spokane Region in Washington. And the No. 4 overall seed, Tennessee, is slotted as the top seed in the Wichita Region in Kansas.

There are four teams from both the SEC and the Big 12 in the top 16, three from the Pac-12, two from the ACC, two from the Big Ten and one from the Big East.

Last season, the entire tournament was held in the San Antonio/San Marcos/Austin area in Texas. There was no tournament in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. From 2015 to 2019, UConn was in nearby regionals in either Bridgeport or Albany, New York. The last time the Huskies had to travel a significant distance to a regional was 2014, when they were in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The decision to not put the Huskies in the Bridgeport Region was to ensure regions are properly balanced, and teams from the same conference -- such as Tennessee and LSU or Baylor and Texas -- were not in the same region.

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