It's been 19 years since Geno Auriemma and UConn won their first national title. In the least surprising development all season, on Monday the 34-0 Huskies were awarded the No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. But only one other American Athletic Conference team qualified for the Big Dance: Louisville, which was in last year's championship game, earned a No. 3 seed.
For Auriemma, it was reminiscent of the old days.
“It reminds me of 1995, deja vu all over again,” the coach said, via SNY.com's Carl Adamec. “Didn’t Yogi Berra say that? In 1995 we got only two teams in the NCAA tournament (UConn and Seton Hall) and we did pretty well that year. I was really disappointed because I thought that South Florida played great down the stretch. So I was disappointed for them. The rest? Everybody is going to have to figure out a way to schedule the right games and beat the right teams. We’re going to have to do in our conference what we did in the late ’90s in the Big East.
“There’s really nothing you can do about that. We got Notre Dame, West Virginia, DePaul, Syracuse, St. John’s … We got a bunch of teams in,” Auriemma continued. “So I’ll hold on to that for a little while.”
Meanwhile, the ACC and SEC had eight teams each qualify for the tournament. The Big 12 got six, and the Big 10 and Pac-12 received five each.
“I believe in a lot of conspiracies," Auriemma said. "I know a couple of guys that know a couple of guys that were in the grassy knoll, I think. I don’t know if they sat around and said let’s intentionally do this to that conference. Conferences are treated as a whole. Here’s your RPI, here is what your teams did. You almost have to do what Wichita State’s men did. You just don’t know. You just don’t know.”
All the Huskies can do is control their destiny. That means defending their national championship, which begins in earnest Sunday at 8 p.m. when they face 16 seed Prairie View A&M at Gampel Pavilion.