After earning the top spot in the regular season’s final AP Poll, it surprised no one when the Huskies were revealed as the No. 1 seed of the River Walk Region in this year’s NCAA Tournament. And even if it’s not quite how they imagined the day would happen, yesterday’s Selection Monday is one these players won’t soon forget.
“It was amazing,” Paige Bueckers said to media Monday night. “This is what you dream of as a kid, being able to play in March Madness and going in as a one-seed is amazing and stuff you dream of. So for it to become a reality, it was really amazing to hear.”
With the top seeding comes a matchup against Big South Conference Champion High Point University in the Round of 64 which, barring a major upset, will see the Huskies play the winner of the Syracuse/South Dakota State game in the Round of 32. From there, the intrigue picks up a little bit, with UConn facing one of the tougher regions in the tournament.
Beginning in the Sweet 16, the Huskies could match up against the freshman phenom not named Paige Bueckers in Caitlin Clark and Iowa, followed by a rematch against either Tennessee or Baylor in the Elite Eight. Assuming they win in both of those games, the Huskies would then likely face No. 2 seeded Baylor, who according to NET Rankings are placed as the third best team in the country, making for an incredibly exciting Final Four matchup.
But even amid a difficult challenge ahead, junior Christyn Williams made it clear that UConn is happy to even get a chance to play after last year’s tournament was taken from them.
“We have a lot of great teams in our bracket, [but] we’re just gonna take it game by game and prepare each game like it’s our last,” Christyn Williams said. “We’re just happy to play really, that’s all I can continue to say, we’re just excited to be in the tournament and grateful that we can be there and play.”
Looking at the larger picture, this will be the first time a lot of these Huskies are playing in the NCAA Tournament and the first time any of them are in as the top seed, but head coach Geno Auriemma says that lack of experience might not be such a bad thing.
“They don’t know enough to know what they don’t know,” Auriemma said Monday night. “So they’re going into this tournament for the first time and they don’t know what’s out there. They’ve read about it and heard about it, but [their inexperience] may [help]. What do they say, ignorance is bliss right? I hope we’ve got enough bliss to last us six games.”
Above all else, UConn is headed to Texas as a No. 1 seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, and while they are sure to have as much (safe) fun as they can for as long as they are there, this group of players knows there is only one goal they have in mind.
“At the end of the day we’re there for business,” Evina Westbrook said. “We’re there to get our job done, handle our tasks and make sure we keep advancing.”
The tournament kicks off Sunday for UConn in their matchup against High Point, with tipoff set for 8 p.m. Let the madness begin.