INDIANAPOLIS -- Historical milestones weave the way through the 64-team field of competitors for the 2014 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, as announced on Monday by the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee.
Highlighting the selections are five programs that are making their first appearance, while two others are celebrating being selected more than 30 times in the 33-year history of the championship.
Earning No. 1 seeds are Connecticut (34-0), Notre Dame (32-0), Tennessee (27-5) and South Carolina (27-4). Tennessee was the Southeastern Conference (SEC) tournament champion, while South Carolina was an at-large selection from the SEC after winning the conference regular-season championship. UConn and Notre Dame each concluded the regular season with unblemished records en route to winning conference regular season and tournament titles in the American Athletic and Atlantic Coast Conferences, respectively. The perfect records mark only the second time in the history of Division I women’s basketball that two teams enter the tournament undefeated. The only other time was in 1998 when both Tennessee and Liberty were undefeated entering tournament play. Tennessee went on to win the national championship with a 39-0 record, while Liberty was eliminated in the first round.
Thirty-two conferences were granted automatic bids for the championship and the remaining 32 teams were selected at-large.
First- and second-round games will be played at 16 sites Saturday, March 22 through Tuesday, March 25, with the 16 second-round winners moving on to the four regional sites. The Lincoln Regional (Pinnacle Bank Arena, Lincoln, Neb.) and the Notre Dame Regional (Purcell Pavilion, Notre Dame, Ind.) will be played on Saturday, March 29 and Monday, March 31, while the Louisville Regional (KFC Yum! Center, Louisville, Ky.) and the Stanford Regional (Maples Pavilion, Stanford, Calif.) will be held Sunday, March 30 and Tuesday, April 1. The four regional winners will advance to the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four, April 6 and 8 in Nashville, Tenn. at Bridgestone Arena.
Tennessee continues its appearance streak, participating in all 33 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championships. Second on the all-time appearance list is Georgia, making its 31st overall appearance. Akron, North Dakota, South Dakota, Winthrop and Wright State are all making their first NCAA tournament appearance.
In the history of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, 14 schools have captured the national title. Tennessee and UConn lead the way with eight championships apiece. UConn is the defending national champion after claiming the 2013 title in New Orleans with a 93-60 win against Louisville in the title game, matching Tennessee for the most national championships won by a single school. If it is able to score six more wins in the 2014 championship, UConn would equal Baylor’s record for most wins in a season, with Baylor going 40-0 in 2012.