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Archive for Sunday, March 16, 2003

NCAA women: LSU gets top seed, trip to … Oregon

March 16, 2003

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LSU finally earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA women's basketball tournament -- and was rewarded with a trip to Oregon.

For that, the Tigers can thank the NCAA's new procedure of selecting the sites for first- and second-round games months in advance instead of giving them to the 16 highest seeded teams, as was done previously.

LSU (27-3) was made the top seed Sunday in the West Regional and will play Southwest Texas State in a first-round game at Eugene, Ore., Saturday.

Defending national champion Connecticut (East), Tennessee (Mideast) and Duke (Midwest) were the other No. 1 seeds in a tournament that might have some suspense now that UConn actually lost a game.

Connecticut (31-1) and Tennessee (28-4) will start the tournament at home, while Duke (31-1) goes 20 miles down the road to Raleigh.

"Nothing's ever easy," LSU coach Sue Gunter said after the program received a No. 1 seed for the first time. "We're grateful to be there. We're glad we're a No. 1.

"The West is unbelievably strong. It will be a tough road to hoe, but we're excited. We'll see what happens."

Connecticut, a No. 1 seed for the ninth time in 10 years, remains the favorite for the national title, though the Huskies no longer are trying to extend a long winning streak.

Their 52-48 loss to Villanova in the Big East tournament finals broke a 70-game streak that was the longest in NCAA women's history, showed that UConn was vulnerable on a given night and gave hope to others.

"I think this is probably the most exciting year of all," Duke coach Gail Goestenkors said. "Because I think so many teams can get to the Final Four and win the national title. It's wide open."

Connecticut, which also won national titles in 1995 and 2000, has a first-round game Sunday against Boston University. The Terriers made the NCAA Tournament for the first time and look what they get for their trouble: a team stinging from its first loss since the 2001 Final Four.

Two victories would send UConn to Dayton for the East Regional.

Tennessee, a top seed for the 14th time in 16 years, could play its way to the Final Four in Atlanta without leaving home. The Vols are hosting first- and second-round games and also have the Mideast Regional on their court.

They open Saturday against Alabama State.

Duke, which plays Georgia State Sunday, has a much more challenging road to Atlanta. If the Blue Devils get out of Raleigh, they would head for the Pit at New Mexico for the Midwest Regional and a possible meeting with the home team.

New Mexico is the No. 6 seed in the Midwest and is hosting first- and second-round games, too.

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