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College Sports

Women’s NCAA top seeds go to UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville, Mississippi State

NEW YORK (AP) — UConn, Notre Dame, Louisville and Mississippi State are the No. 1 seeds in the women’s basketball NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies enter as the lone unbeaten team and will be vying for their 12th national championship. Last season, UConn came into the NCAAs as the overwhelming favorite before their 111-game winning streak ended with a loss to Mississippi State in the Final Four.

This year’s Final Four is in Columbus, Ohio, and will take place on March 30. The national championship game is on Sunday, April 1.

Defending national champion South Carolina and A’ja Wilson await as a possible Elite Eight matchup for UConn in the Albany Regional. The Gamecocks are the two-seed. Florida State and Georgia are the other top seeds in the Huskies’ part of the bracket.

UConn, which has been a No. 1 seed every year since 2007, opens up against 16-seed Saint Francis (Pennsylvania) on Saturday morning.

Like the Huskies, the Irish are a No. 1 seed again. Notre Dame has been a top seed the last seven years. This might be one of coach Muffet McGraw’s finest accomplishments Notre Dame lost four pivotal players to injury, but only three games on the season. Two of those losses came to the Cardinals.

The Irish are in the Spokane Regional and open up against Cal State Northridge on Friday. If Notre Dame advances, the Irish would head out west to potentially face No. 2 seed Oregon if the seeds hold.

The Ducks potentially could stay out west and play in Spokane, where coach Kelly Graves spent many years as Gonzaga’s head coach. Ohio State and Texas A&M are the three and four seeds in that region.

Louisville won the ACC for the first time this season. The Cardinals open up against Boise State and are one of eight ACC teams in the field. The SEC has seven teams in the tournament, while the Pac-12 has six.

“We’re really excited about the opportunity,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “We’re excited to host the first two at home against two very good basketball teams. If we’re fortunate enough to advance, we get the opportunity to play in Lexington, which would be great for our fans.”

The Lexington Regional is stacked with former NCAA Tournament winners with Baylor the two-seed, Tennessee the three and Stanford the four. While the Lady Vols have been in the NCAA Tournament every year since it began in 1982, Nicholls State, Northern Colorado, Mercer and Seattle will be making their first appearances.

Stanford potentially is headed to Lexington for the third straight year if it can advance.

Mississippi State is a No. 1 seed for the first time in school history. The Bulldogs won their first 32 games this season before losing to South Carolina in the SEC title game. With most of their players back from last season’s runner-up finish — including Morgan Williams, who hit the game-winner in overtime to knock off UConn — the Bulldogs hope to make another deep NCAA run.

The NCAA revealed Sunday night the final eight teams under consideration for the last four spots in the NCAA Tournament. Buffalo, Creighton, Minnesota and Oklahoma got in. Purdue, Rutgers, Southern Cal and West Virginia were the first four teams out.

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