The Connecticut Huskies now know what stands between them and history after the full field was revealed for the 2016 NCAA women's college basketball tournament on Monday.
As expected, UConn occupies the top overall seed in the tournament, and as a result, it would play the regional semifinal and final in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Below is the full seeding for the tournament:
|2016 Women's NCAA Tournament Seeds|
|Seed||Bridgeport Region||Dallas Region||Lexington Region||Sioux Falls Region|
|1||Connecticut||Baylor||Notre Dame||South Carolina|
|2||Texas||Oregon State||Maryland||Arizona State|
|4||Michigan State||Texas A&M||Stanford||Syracuse|
|5||Mississippi State||Florida State||Miami||Florida|
|6||South Florida||DePaul||Oklahoma||West Virginia|
|8||Seton Hall||St. John's||Georgia||George Washington|
|10||Missouri||St. Bonaventure||Pennsylvania||Green Bay|
|11||Colorado State||James Madison||Purdue||Princeton|
|12||Chattanooga||Middle Tennessee||South Dakota State||Albany|
|13||Belmont||Missouri State||San Francisco||Army|
|14||Hawaii||Central Arkansas||UNC Asheville||Buffalo|
|15||Alabama State||Troy||Iona||New Mexico State|
|16||Robert Morris||Idaho||North Carolina A&T||Jacksonville|
|Source: ESPN broadcast|
Luckily, the women's bracket wasn't leaked ahead of time, as was the case for the men's tournament, per ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil and Jeff Goodman. The Associated Press' Brian Mahoney didn't think it would've mattered anyway:
Brian Mahoney @briancmahoney
Has anyone leaked the women's bracket yet? All scenarios end with #UConn winning.2016-3-14 23:00:53
The unbeaten American Athletic Conference champions are looking to be the first team ever to win four straight national championships in Division I women's basketball. Connecticut won three consecutive titles between 2002 and 2004, and the Tennessee Volunteers were the first to pull off the feat, going back-to-back-to-back from 1996 through 1998.
Notre Dame should be one of UConn's top challengers, but the selection committee did the Fighting Irish few favors. On one hand, they sit in the closest regional to their South Bend, Indiana, campus. On the other hand, they could potentially face Kentucky on the Wildcats' home floor, Rupp Arena, in the Sweet 16.
"I'm a little surprised to be going to Lexington," said Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw, per David Cloninger of the State.
Notre Dame's spot in the Lexington Regional also had an impact on South Carolina, the tournament's No. 2 overall seed, per Jen Smith of the Lexington Herald-Leader:
Jen Smith @jenheraldleader
Kentucky being kept in Lexington and shipping South Carolina to Sioux Falls will be among the big stories after this draw is finished.2016-3-14 23:24:33
Whereas Gamecocks fans would've had a roughly seven-hour drive to the Kentucky campus for the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight, they instead have to book plane tickets if they want to follow their team.
Head coach Dawn Staley at least found a way for S.C. fans to make use of any tickets they might have bought for the Lexington Regional, per Alyssa Lang of WLTX:
Alyssa Lang @AlyssaLang
Dawn staley apologizes to those fans who already bought Lexington regional tickets. "Maybe you can still go and do some scouting for us?!"2016-3-14 23:41:34
"It's not what we wanted," said Staley, per TheBigSpur.com. "But I know if we take care of business, I'm sure the people of South Dakota will take care of us."
Baylor is the last school to win a national title since UConn's reign of dominance, and like the Huskies, the Lady Bears will stay close to home throughout the first four rounds. They're the top seed in the Dallas Regional, and they'll open up the Big Dance in Waco, Texas, against Idaho.
The Dallas Morning News' Chuck Carlton highlighted what could be an interesting clash for Baylor in the Sweet 16:
Chuck Carlton @ChuckCarltonDMN
Texas A&M is a No. 4 seed in the Dallas Region, so we could have a Baylor-A&M matchup again in Dallas just like 2011, won by the Aggies.2016-3-14 23:08:05
The Aggies upset the Lady Bears in the Elite Eight en route to their first and only national championship to date.
Tennessee fans have become accustomed to seeing their school among the tournament's top seeds, but that isn't the case for the Lady Vols after they won 19 games—their fewest since Pat Head was the head coach in 1976.
Having already fallen out of the Associated Press Top 25 for the first time in 31 years, Tennessee made history again Monday. The Lady Vols are seeded seventh in the Sioux Falls Regional, which is their lowest seed ever, per Dan Fleser of the Knoxville News Sentinel.
While a few surprises could be in store during the women's tournament, anything other than a Connecticut triumph will be a shock.
The Huskies have lost one game in the last three years, and the senior class of Moriah Jefferson, Breanna Stewart and Briana Pulido will settle for nothing less than a national title to close out their college careers.