One streak continues and another one ends.
Tennessee will play in the women's NCAA tournament for the 38th consecutive season. But for the first time since 2006, UConn is not a No. 1 seed.
The Huskies receiving the No. 2 seed in the Albany Regional is the biggest and perhaps only surprise in the 64-team bracket that was released Monday.
UConn (31-2) was a No. 1 seed in the selection committee's final reveal on March 4. Since then, the Huskies won the AAC tournament, Mississippi State (30-2) won the SEC tournament and Louisville (29-3) lost in decisive fashion to Notre Dame in the final of the ACC tournament.
That loss was not enough, according to the committee, to drop Louisville from No. 2 overall on its board two weeks ago to No. 5 overall. The Cardinals stayed among the first four and landed a No. 1 seed.
While UConn didn't stumble or do anything to fall, the committee felt the Bulldogs did enough -- in beating Tennessee, Missouri and Arkansas in the SEC tourney -- to leapfrog the Huskies and land a top seed.
If we needed any evidence that more parity has crept into the women's game, UConn as a No. 2 seed is it.
The last time the Huskies failed to fall on the 1-line was in 2006, when they were paired with another ACC team, No. 1 seed Duke, in the Bridgeport Regional. That year, the Blue Devils beat UConn in the regional final on their way to the national championship game.
From a historical standpoint, the placement of the Huskies as a No. 2 seed is significant. From a competitive balance standpoint in 2019, it doesn't mean too much. If UConn had been a No. 1, the Huskies still would be in Albany and Louisville would have been the region's No. 2 seed. Changing the color of the uniforms in the Elite Eight if that matchup happens is the most significant on-court ramification.
Lady Vols make it 38 straight
Tennessee's NCAA tournament fate was the biggest topic in women's college basketball in March. The Lady Vols' inclusion in Sunday's debatable eight ratcheted up the angst for those in orange and white, but that big breeze blowing through the southeastern United States on Monday night is the collective sigh of relief emanating from Knoxville.
Tennessee's five top-50 RPI wins -- including a pair of victories over NCAA tournament teams Missouri and Texas, plus two over Auburn, another debatable eight bubble team -- seemed to have carried the day. The Lady Vols were one of the last four in, but at this point, being in is all that matters for the one school that has never missed a women's NCAA tournament.
Knights almost on wrong side of history
UCF is in -- barely. The committee has been telling us for years that the RPI is one of the tools it uses, but not always as the end-all, be-all metric. The Knights' seed backs that up.
As a No. 12 seed, UCF was the last at-large team chosen for the field, despite the fact that the Knights finished the season at No. 15 in the RPI. This is the worst seed for a team that high in the RPI in history. As an automatic qualifier out of the West Coast Conference in 2012, Gonzaga, which was 12th in the RPI, received an 11-seed. That's the best comparison.
Had it not made the committee's cut, UCF would have been by far the highest-rated RPI team ever left out of the field. USC, with an RPI of 36 in 2010, was the last team in a remotely similar scenario that did not get selected.
The Knights had one of the most unusual profiles in recent memory. Despite the high RPI, they didn't play an exceptional schedule (ranked 49th) that still included six sub-200 RPI opponents. Beating Quinnipiac in December was their only win over a tournament-bound team. The No. 15 RPI got UCF on the table for discussion, and the committee felt the Knights were just good enough for inclusion in the field.