“I’m feeling well but disappointed that I will be away from the team for the next several days,” said Auriemma, who has won 11 national championships with the Huskies.
Because all the games were being staged in one state rather than sprawled across sites around the country, the bracket looked like a smoother ranking of the teams, 1-64, than it would in another year in which geographical considerations would be given more weight. The four regions that split up the bracket were named after San Antonio landmarks: Alamo, Hemisfair, Mercado and River Walk.
The toughest region might be topped by No. 1 UConn and No. 2 Baylor. Placing the defending champion, Baylor, and a perpetual favorite, UConn, in the same region is a nifty way for the selection committee to potentially continue what has, over the past decade, become something of a rivalry. As it stands now, each team has beaten the other four times. Also in the region, No. 3 seed Tennessee and No. 4 seed Kentucky are both battle tested thanks to their slog through the Southeastern Conference, where both churned out nine wins that spotlighted their respective stars Rennia Davis and Rhyne Howard.
Some of the seeding tracked with the changes in the metrics used by the N.C.A.A. selection committee to assess teams. The committee used the N.C.A.A.’s composite NET ranking on the women’s side for the first time this year as one of the 14 criteria that determine teams’ eligibility and seeding. Although the metric was intended to provide some transparency, it also gave some fans more fuel for grievances. Rutgers fans, for example, might wonder how a team ranked No. 12 overall according to NET wound up as a No. 6 seed.
The lower seeds also show some of the limits of even the most advanced analytics. High Point, Bradley and Stony Brook are all slated to compete in the Division I tournament for the first time, as is Utah Valley, which was selected in place of California Baptist to represent the Western Athletic Conference. California Baptist went undefeated and won the WAC tournament title, but is only in its third year competing at the Division I level and not yet eligible.
Wyoming, which won its first Mountain West title last week while becoming the first No. 7 seeded team to win that conference’s tournament, made the field for just the second time in the program’s history, thanks in large part to a defense that rebounds 74 percent of its opponents’ misses, according to Her Hoop Stats. Wyoming earned a No. 14 seed. Virginia Commonwealth University, a No. 13 seed, also earned its second tournament bid thanks to a title run in the Atlantic 10 Conference tournament, which it won for the first time despite beginning play as a No. 5 seed.
After spending plenty of time on the bubble, Wake Forest earned a No. 9 seed. Brigham Young University earned a No. 11 seed, even after losing the West Coast Conference championship game, 43-42 to Gonzaga.