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Stanford, UConn, South Carolina, Louisville snare top seeds in NCAA tournament’s first early reveal

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Stanford joined UConn, South Carolina and Louisville as No. 1 seeds in Monday’s first early reveal of the projected top 16 seeds for the women’s NCAA tournament.

The Cardinal started Monday’s game against Oregon with two losses this season. UConn and Louisville have lost one each and South Carolina has lost twice. The Huskies, Gamecocks, Cardinal and Cardinals are the four teams to hold the No. 1 position in the Associated Press poll this season.

NC State, the only team this season with two wins over the country’s No. 1 team (South Carolina and Louisville), was a No. 2 seed and sixth overall team in Monday’s unveiling. The Wolfpack also have losses to two non-ranked teams: Virginia Tech (in overtime) and North Carolina. One of Stanford’s losses was also to a non-ranked team, Colorado, and the other to UCLA.

UConn’s loss was to Arkansas, and South Carolina fell to NC State and UConn. The Huskies have been No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament 11 for the past 12 seasons, reaching the Final Four for all 12 years. They were a No. 2 seed in 2019.

The SEC has the most teams in the top 16 with five: No. 2 South Carolina, No. 5 Texas A&M, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 Tennessee, and No. 16 Kentucky. Texas A&M has only suffered one loss, in overtime for LSU. Kentucky has the most defeats of any team in the top 16, with five entering the game in Florida on Monday.

There are four Pac-12 teams: # 3 Stanford, # 8 Arizona, # 9 UCLA, and # 11 Oregon. Stanford was on the road for nine consecutive weeks earlier this season due to COVID-19 regulations in Santa Clara County; the cardinal’s two losses came during that period.

The second top-16 reveal is March 1 during halftime of Baylor-Texas (ESPN2 / ESPN app, 7:00 p.m. ET).

The NCAA confirmed earlier this month that the NCAA tournament will be held entirely in the San Antonio area, with some first-round games in nearby San Marcos and Austin. All games from the Sweet 16 will take place at the Alamodome, with the Final Four there on April 2-4.

Since it is a single venue event, there will be a true S-curve for the bracket, rather than geography affecting the location of teams. Therefore, the regions are numbered rather than named after the city in which they are located.

Region 1: 1. UConn, 2. Arizona, 3. Baylor, and 4. Tennessee

This would set up a potential Sweet 16 match between the Huskies and Lady Vols, who haven’t met in the NCAA tournament since the 2004 national championship game won by UConn. The Huskies defeated Lady Vols 67-61 in Knoxville, Tennessee, on January 21. UConn was scheduled to play against Baylor earlier in January, but the game was canceled when the Lady Bears were given a break due to COVID-19. This regional would have by far the most combined NCAA championships: 11 for UConn, eight for Tennessee, and three for Baylor.

Region 2: 1. South Carolina, 2. Maryland, 3. UCLA, 4. West Virginia

Finished last season, the Gamecocks started this team as the top-ranked team, climbing back to No. 1 last week before losing to UConn. South Carolina, the 2017 champion, currently has a winning streak of 31 games against SEC enemies. Maryland is the only Big Ten team since Michigan State to reach the Women’s Final Four (2015) in 2005. The Terps also had Final Four trips in 1982, 2006 (championship-winning) and 2014. UCLA and West Virginia are looking for their first Final Four trip in the NCAA era; the Bruins won the AIAW national championship in 1978.

Region 3: 1. Stanford, 2. NC State, 3. Georgia, 4. Indiana

The Cardinal is looking forward to their 14th Final Four appearance; the last was in 2017 and the third NCAA title (1990, ’92). Georgia has advanced to the Final Four five times (the last in 1999) and once to NC State (1998). Indiana did not get past the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Region 4: 1. Louisville, 2. Texas A&M, 3. Oregon, 4. Kentucky

Texas A&M won the National Championship in 2011. Louisville is looking for its fourth Final Four appearance and Oregon its second. Kentucky has not progressed beyond the Elite Eight. The modern day Louisville-Kentucky regular season series dates back to 1975, but the programs haven’t met this season.

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