Connecticut is looking at this NCAA tournament as a chance for
The third-ranked Huskies, who lost both the Big East
regular-season and tournament titles to Notre Dame, received the
top seed in the Bridgeport Regional and will face 16th-seeded Idaho
(17-15) from the Western Athletic Conference in the first round on
The Huskies are again on the same side of the bracket with Notre
Dame, setting up a possible third straight meeting in the national
semifinals. The Irish have won the previous two and have beaten
UConn seven of the last eight times the two teams have played,
including all three meetings this season.
“I’m sure they want to play us just as much as we want to play
them,” said forward Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, UConn’s leading scorer
at 17.4 points per game. “They are trying to prove that they are
the top team and we’re trying to prove that we can beat them.”
The Huskies (29-4), who are making their 25th consecutive
tournament appearance, are looking for a record sixth consecutive
trip to the Final Four and an eighth national title. But coach Geno
Auriemma said he feels UConn can’t be considered a favorite.
“I think any time you’re not the number-one No. 1 seed, you’re
an underdog, given the success that Notre Dame and Baylor have
had,” he said.
UConn will host the first two rounds at Gampel Pavilion, and is
looking at a second-round matchup with either No. 8 seed Vanderbilt
(20-11) or St. Joseph’s (23-8). Should the Huskies advance, they
would play the next two rounds about 80 miles from campus in
The second seed in the Bridgeport Regional is Kentucky, a team
UConn beat in last year’s regional final.
Connecticut’s only other loss this season was to top-ranked
Baylor, a team it would not face again until the national
championship game. The Huskies beat eight other Top-25 teams this
“There’s still a gap there, obviously,” Auriemma said. “If you
look at the scores of our games against all the teams that won
their conference tournaments this year, there’s still a gap.”
Connecticut hasn’t lost a first-round matchup since falling to
Louisville in 1993, and Idaho is not expected to pose much of a
threat. The Vandals, making their second tournament appearance and
their first since 1985, upset top-seeded Seattle 67-64 in the WAC
Idaho likes to shoot the long ball, ranking in the top 10
nationally in both 3-pointers made (258) and attempts (793).
Freshman Christina Salvatore puts up 8.3 per game, hitting 33.0
percent, while junior Alyssa Charlston leads the team with 13.7
points per contest.
The Huskies and Vandals have never played each other.