The NCAA women’s basketball tournament selection committee didn’t do any favors for defending national champion South Carolina.
It placed Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks in the same Albany Regional as traditional powerhouse Connecticut, making the Huskies the No. 1 seed and the Gamecocks No. 2. Part of the blame, of course, for that tough road to the Final Four rests on the shoulders of national player of the year A’ja Wilson and her teammates for losing six games, including an 83-58 home loss to Geno Auriemma’s UConn team.
Staley has never beaten UConn. The Gamecocks avoided that matchup in the Final Four a year ago when Mississippi State stunned the Huskies in the semifinals.
This season Staley and her players pulled off another win in the SEC Tournament final over Mississippi State, ending the Bulldogs’ shot at finishing the season unbeaten.
Now UConn is the only remaining team with an unblemished record.
If it weren’t for UConn’s historical dominance in the tournament, the Albany Region could be tagged the Group of Death.
The top four seeds are # 1 Connecticut (32-0), #7 South Carolina (26-6), #11 Florida State (25-6). and #17 Georgia (25-6). Traditional ACC powers Duke and Virginia are also in the region,
The other regional top four seeds:
Spokane: #5 Notre Dame (29-3), #6 Oregon (30-4), #10 Ohio State (27-6) and #14 Texas A&M (24-9).
Kansas City: #4 Mississippi State (32-1), #8 Texas (26-6), #9 UCLA (24-7) and #21 N.C. State (24-8).
Lexington: #2 Baylor (31-1) #3 Louisville (32-2), #12 Tennessee (24-7) and #15 Stanford (22-10).
The top four teams in Albany have 18 combined losses. In Lexington, the top four have 20 combined losses. Meanwhile, the top four teams in the Spokane and Kansas City regionals have 22 losses.
But before they get to a possible meeting in the Albany Regional finals, South Carolina will have a chance to advance on its home court against N.C. A&T, California (21-10) and Virginia (18-13). The Gamecocks play N.C. A&T at 6:30 p.m. on Friday.