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UConn Displeased With Tournament Seeding

WATCH video from other players and head coach Geno Auriemma here!

STORRS — UConn women’s basketball isn’t happy about being a No. 2 seed. And they aren’t afraid to let anyone know it.

“Obviously we don’t agree with that decision, I don’t know why it happened,” senior Napheesa Collier said. “It doesn’t change what our game plan is and we’re still going to prepare the same way we would’ve before.”

There’s merit to their anger, too.

The Huskies are 31-2, with both losses coming on the road to top-10 teams. And while Baylor was only No. 7 when UConn lost to them, they are now the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. Mississippi State had a 30-2 record, and one of those losses came at home to Missouri, a seven seed in this year’s field. UConn finished with a higher RPI and strength of schedule than the Bulldogs, but was somehow seeded lower.

It’s not as if the selection committee had inside info on Katie Lou Samuelson potentially missing time in the tournament, since the senior declared herself “ready to go” on Monday.

Instead, UConn believes they are held to a higher standard than everyone else because they have been so dominant for so long.

“I mean, we did lose two games,” head coach Geno Auriemma said sarcastically. “I’m surprised we’re a number two. I thought we’d be a four or five. We’re not in one of those conferences that perennially wins national championships so we can’t be expected to lose two games and not drop. I’m just happy they kept us at two, not four.”

When asked about the decision to place UConn on the two line, a member of the NCAA’s selection committee cited the “strength of conference.” Auriemma wasn’t buying that standard, however.

“Not if we went undefeated,” Auriemma sarcastically retorted when asked if the AAC’s weak women’s basketball slate had any effect. “So if we won the two games we lost we’d be a one seed? Then the strength of our conference wouldn’t mean s---. There goes that theory. We have to go undefeated every year is what they’re saying.”

Auriemma always says what he thinks and isn't afraid to rock the boat-- he's earned it. However, Auriemma wasn’t the only one to convey those feelings. Collier, the typically soft-spoken, reserved senior didn’t hesitate to point out the disparity.

“Yeah, I think it’s pretty clear (that the committee grades UConn on a different scale),” she said. “We lost to two teams that were in the top five at the time. Whatever. We’re held to a different standard and because we win so much.

"People are going to have a different opinion of us and we’re either going to prove them right or wrong. I guess we’ll see in the tournament.”

Samuelson was less direct than her classmate, but she didn’t try to hide her displeasure at the committee’s decision.

“We didn’t make the decisions, the committee did,” Samuelson said. “That’s up to them what they’re thinking. I can’t say much on what the committee decided, I wasn’t in the room. ... The only thing I’m focused on is the game on Friday.”

For a team that is so guarded in what they say, so cautious about not making waves, all that went out the window. It didn’t stop once the media left either.

On Instagram, Samuelson posted a quote on her story that said “Keep your head held high and your middle finger higher,” which was shared by Collier on her own story.

Typically, the Huskies M.O. is to ignore all the outside noise and commentary — good or bad — and just focus on their own beliefs within the building. But they admitted that with all the negativity this season, they’ve let some creep in to help motivate themselves.

“It’s no secret what people have said about our team, but we’re not focused on that,” Crystal Dangerfield said. “We know within this walls we have these people behind us.”

And now, once the NCAA Tournament begins against Towson on Friday, UConn will be even more determined to show the world why they shouldn’t be a two-seed.

“If you are going to do that, we’re going to do everything we can to prove everyone wrong,” Collier said. “We’re going to come in with that much more fire and that much more (desire) to beat everyone.”

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