TIPPING OFF: Top seeds restore order in women's bracket
Connecticut's Breanna Stewart, left, blocks a shot by Mississippi State's Morgan William during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the regional semifinals of the women's NCAA Tournament, Saturday, March 26, 2016, in Bridgeport, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) It took about 4 minutes for UConn to restore a semblance of order to the women's bracket Saturday.
Other top seeds Baylor, Texas and Oregon State continued that trend a day after half the bracket was hit with upsets.
Friday's bracket busters – including losses for No. 1 seeds South Carolina and Notre Dame – caught the Huskies' attention.
Article continues below ...
''I think it was an awakening for our players and for everybody else, that if you show up in March and you don't bring your `A' game, and your guys aren't focused and locked in and playing their best basketball, that this can happen,'' UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ''In the past that could never happen.''
''The talent was just too one sided. But now – plus you got teams that are seeded really low, that because they had a bad year, they probably shouldn't be seeded that low. So it makes it look even worse than it is. But that's where the game is right now.''
UConn gave Mississippi State no chance of an upset, scoring the game's first 13 points and leading 32-4 after one quarter. It only got worse from there for the Bulldogs.
So the regional finals have 1 vs 2 matchups on one side of the bracket. The other features seven seeds playing four seeds. This will mark the first time that the Final Four will have least two teams seeded fourth or lower since 2004.
This will also mark the first time that the Pac-12 has three teams in the regional final with Stanford, Washington and Oregon State all advancing. The Cardinal and Huskies will play for a trip to the Final Four.
''I'm thrilled to see the work of our coaches and their athletes rewarded,'' Pac-12 associate commissioner Chris Dawson said. ''They worked hard on raising the profile nationally. … This is the time of year people pay attention.''
Here are some other tournament tidbits:
WATCHING FROM AFAR: Syracuse men's coach Jim Boeheim is a huge fan of the women's team. He was proud to have both of the school's basketball programs in the regional finals.
''Well, as I said last night, I've been a big fan – I've been to several games and I watch all their games on TV. I watched the whole game yesterday. It ended about 5 minutes before our game started or whatever it was, but I was still watching it on my phone,'' he said. ''I've got that ESPN app. I thought it was great. I think they've just – it's a fun team to watch.''
Coach Quentin Hillsman's team plays a 2-3 zone defense similar to the men's program.
''I take a little credit because they play a familiar defense to mine,'' Boeheim said. ''I've seen that defense they play before, and they've just got a great group of girls. They played great this year, and I couldn't be happier for them.''
The Syracuse women face Tennessee on Sunday.
SAMUELSON SISTERS: Stanford's Karlie Samuelson says she hasn't talked much to her sister about the possibility of a family showdown in the NCAA Tournament, even as that possibility becomes increasingly realistic.
Samuelson's younger sister, Katie Lou Samuelson, plays for Connecticut and scored 21 points Saturday in a 98-38 rout of Mississippi State, one day after Karlie scored 20 points and shot 5 of 6 from 3-point range in a 90-84 upset of Notre Dame.
Stanford and Connecticut couldn't meet unless both reach the championship game.
''We don't joke about that,'' Karlie Samuelson said. ''We talk about how well we're doing and I tell her how well she's doing, and we're just really happy for each other.''
Karlie Samuelson helped seal Stanford's victory over Notre Dame by banking in an off-balance 3-pointer from about 25 feet away with the shot clock expiring. Karlie said Katie Lou sent a congratulatory text saying, ''Nice work, Karlie. Good shot.''
Katie Lou said she ''got super excited when she banked in that 3. (Jefferson) my roommate, she can tell you. She was laughing at me the whole time.''
The family's divided loyalties were evident Saturday during the telecast of the Connecticut-Mississippi State game. When the Samuelsons' father, Jon, was interviewed during the game, he pulled up his Connecticut sweatshirt to reveal a Stanford T-shirt.
''I got a bunch of texts and pictures (saying), `Your dad was on ESPN,''' Karlie Samuelson said. ''I texted him, `Nice interview,' and he was like, `How did I do?'''
AP Sports Writers Jay Cohen in Chicago and Steve Megargee in Lexington, Kentucky contributed to this story.