University of Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma said he doesn’t care that his team is the top seed entering the national women’s college basketball tournament. It only matters if the Huskies finish No. 1.
Expectations at UConn have risen as the school seeks a third consecutive championship, matching its run from 2002-04 and Tennessee’s streak from 1996-98.
“Winning 30 games is not a big deal. Going to the Sweet 16 is not a big deal. Going to the Final Four is not a big deal. Winning the national championship is,” Auriemma said yesterday after Connecticut was seeded as the top team in the 64-team National Collegiate Athletic Association field.
The University of Tennessee, Stanford University and Baylor University are the other regional No. 1 seeds.
If UConn (32-1) reaches the Final Four in Indianapolis, the Huskies could face Tennessee (31-2) for a spot in the championship game. Auriemma has seven national titles, one fewer than Tennessee coach Pat Summitt.
Connecticut’s tournament run will start March 19 at home against American East Conference champion Hartford. The Hawks are coached by former Huskies player Jen Rizzotti, who was the point guard for Auriemma’s first championship team in 1995. Hartford is 0-11 all-time against UConn.
Auriemma said while he’s “thrilled” for Rizzoti, whose team recovered after a 1-9 start this season, those emotions won’t carry over to the court.
“The kids that play for me, they were in grade school when Jennifer played here. They don’t know about that stuff,” Auriemma said. “They just want to play in their first NCAA game. We have an agenda here. We’ve got work to do.”
The women’s championship game is April 5.