February 11, 2015

With selection Monday about a month away, the NCAA women's basketball committee gave coaches, players and fans a look at how the top teams rank.

There isn't much of a surprise that Connecticut is the overall No. 1 seed. South Carolina, Notre Dame and Tennessee are the other top teams. The committee was impressed with UConn's 25-point win over the Gamecocks on Monday night.

''Whoever would win that game would be the No. 1 overall seed,'' committee chair Dru Hancock said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday. ''We felt very confident about South Carolina as a clear No. 2. Notre Dame's body of work distinguished them from the other three teams. Tennessee narrowly got in as the four seed edging Maryland and Baylor.''

Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley was proud when she heard of her potential No. 1 seed.

''It's amazingly exciting for us,'' she said. ''Our players put us in position to be in this position, which is possibly hosting and being a No. 1 seed. It hasn't happened overnight, I think it's progressed to this point. I think it's great for this program to be seen in this light. And I hope other programs are looking at us to be a model to doing things the right way.''

The committee also put out a list of the next 16 teams, in alphabetical order.

''We had some robust conversation to do this,'' Hancock said. ''Folks I've talked to said there's been a lot of support for this as it generates some interest and buzz. It reminds people that we are going back to top 16 seeds hosting. By giving the top 20 it gets people ready for the possibility that they might be able to host.''

The women's committee met over the past few days in Indianapolis and came up with its list, which will likely change over the next month.

''The biggest difficulty with coming up with the top 20 was that we had situations where teams hadn't played the best teams in their conference yet,'' said Hancock, who is the senior associate commissioner of the Big 12. ''Some teams have had a chance to get top 25, top 50 wins against teams that hadn't done it yet. There are a couple teams left out of the top 20 narrowly like Princeton and Mississippi State. Their resumes are so different. It's tough to measure them against each other.''

Princeton is the lone unbeaten team left in women's college basketball.

Five teams in the Pac-12 were among the 20 schools, including Arizona State, which isn't able to host the first two rounds because of a scheduling conflict at the school with gymnastics. Oregon State, California, Stanford and Washington joined Arizona State.

Louisville also was on the list, but the Cardinals can't host because the men's NCAA tournament is using their arena on those dates. Duke, Florida State and North Carolina were the other Atlantic Coast Conference schools.

Kentucky and Texas A&M joined Tennessee and South Carolina to represent the Southeastern Conference. The Big 12 and Big Ten each had two teams with Oklahoma and Baylor and Maryland and Iowa.

''That's fantastic. Thank you. Merry Christmas,'' Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale when finding out the Sooners were on the list after an 89-66 loss at No. 3 Baylor on Wednesday night.

The Lady Bears weren't listed as one of the top four seeds even with 22 wins in a row, matching UConn for the longest winning streak.

''Well, good Tennessee can be the TCU ... All right, we'll be the Ohio State,'' said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, referring to the first College Football Playoff this season, when the Horned Frogs were in the top four before being replaced by the eventual national champion Buckeyes in the final standings. ''I guess it draws interest in women's basketball. But to me, I don't know why you do it. I don't get it.''

Connecticut and George Washington were the only schools not from the power five conferences to make the top 20. ''We're thrilled and honored that the NCAA selection committee has us currently in their top 20,'' said George Washington coach Jonathan Tsipis, before his team was upset 79-61 at St. Louis on Wednesday night. ''At the same time, there's an awfully long way to go in the season and our focus is only on the Atlantic-10.''

Over 40 schools bid for the rights to host the opening rounds, the most the NCAA has had in some time.

This is the first time since 2003 that the women have had the top teams host the opening rounds which means that schools will only have a few days to sell tickets once the actually bracket is released on March 16. The first two rounds also were moved up a day so that the opening games will be played on Friday and Saturday.

''This is just a snapshot on Feb. 11,'' Hancock said. ''It could look a whole lot different on Feb. 12 and we were looking at RPIs this morning and some of that changed overnight. There could be some significant changes when we get back together in March.''

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AP Sports Writer Pete Iacobelli in Columbia, South Carolina, and Stephen Hawkins in Waco, Texas, contributed to this story

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