The UConn women's basketball team left the Final Four in Dallas last season without a national championship and without a winning streak but, players will tell you, with the perspective, motivation and preparedness that comes with a realization that championships aren't won simply because one is used to winning them.
The Golden Eagles (23-9, 15-3 BIG EAST) received a No. 8 seed and will travel to Louisville for their first round game against the No. 9-seeded Dayton Flyers (23-6, 15-1 Atlantic 10).
Marquette is 14-12 in 26 previous meetings with the Flyers and have claimed 12 of the last 14 matchups in the series.
It also provides the other No. 1 seeds with one fewer foe to take on at the Final Four, as SC is easily the most unsafe of the No. 2 seeds. The program has never advanced past the second round.
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Final Four and title game: March 30, April 1.
One interesting part of the bracket is that UConn and last year's title victor, South Carolina, landed in the same regional and could face each other in a regional final in Albany, N.Y. Louisville was a runner-up for the national championship in both 2009 and 2013, while Notre Dame has played in five of the last seven Women's Final Four's.
"I think we played in such a way that, if you were really watching, you were saying: 'OK, this team can elevate". "I think one thing that came out of past year is that we know, and I think everyone else does, that we are beatable".
Louisville (32-2) is making its 21st appearance in the NCAA Tournament - eighth straight - and 10th under head coach Jeff Walz. Maybe even more than we wished for.
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Notre Dame finished the regular season with a 29-3 record with losses to UConn on December 3rd and twice to Louisville on January 11th and then in the ACC Tournament Championship game on March 4th. With most of their players back from last season's runner-up finish - including Morgan William, who hit the game-winner in overtime to knock off UConn - the Bulldogs hope to make another deep NCAA run. The game time will be announced Tuesday.
Buffalo, Creighton, Minnesota and Oklahoma were the final teams to get bids to the tournament.
"We felt there was a razor-thin margin between Baylor and Notre Dame", said NCAA women's basketball committee chair Rhonda Bennett. "I think this team made a decision to get better and chose to dig in".
The Cardinals will play in the Lexington regional and will open the postseason on Friday with No. 16-seed Boise State (23-9) at 12:00 p.m. ET.
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