Geno Auriemma on UConn's NCAA tournament No. 2 seed: 'If we weren't called UConn, we'd be a No. 1'

Geno Auriemma was all over the place Sunday when asked how he feels about UConn's NCAA tournament seeding.

The 38th-year Huskies head coach with 11 NCAA titles on his résumé seemed at times frustrated and understanding about UConn not landing a No. 1 seed in the aftermath of Sunday's bracket reveal that placed UConn as a No. 2 seed. The Huskies have a first-round date with Vermont, with both New England schools traveling across the country to play in Seattle.

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Here's what Auriemma said to reporters about UConn's seeding during a post-reveal media scrum:

"I think if we weren't called UConn, we'd be a No. 1," Auriemma said. "Or if they used the men's criteria when you think about the wins that we've had in Quadrant 1, 2 all of that. Who has a better record than us against those teams?

"So being a No. 2, I'm kind of happy we are. There were a lot of teams that had great years. The four No. 1s, they all did great things this year or they wouldn't be No. 1 seeds."

That's Aureimma somehow sounding both disappointed and satisfied with UConn's standing in the same response. When answering questions directly from SNY, Auriemma called UConn's seeding "expected." He again didn't sound stoked about the trip to the Northwest.

"It was kind of expected," Aueriemma said of UConn's No. 2 seed. "When you hear it all week long leading up to it, you kind of expect it.

"The only surprise that I had was we're out in Seattle. I just assumed for whatever reason — I don't know why — that we would be here on the East Coast. Other than that, I'm not privy to ... how they're bracketed. I think if you look at the four No. 1s and then you look at the four No. 2s, you think that's kind of where we belong. We belong with that group."

Reluctant acceptance appears to be where Aueriemma landed on the subject, a feeling that can fairly sum up a regular season that produced largely outstanding results but was overshadowed by a glut of injuries — most notably to Paige Bueckers, who's missed the season with an ACL tear.

There are worse places to be in the NCAA tournament than a No. 2 seed. It's just not the rarified air UConn and Auriemma are used to. The No. 1 seeds belong to South Carolina, Indiana, Virginia Tech and Stanford. UConn joins Iowa, Utah and Maryland on the No. 2 line.

Mar 5, 2023; Uncasville, CT, USA; UConn Huskies head coach Geno Auriemma watches from the sideline as they take on the Marquette Golden Eagles at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Geno Auriemma isn't used to being a No. 2 seed. (David Butler II/Reuters)

Is UConn underseeded?

Does Auriemma have a point about UConn not getting proper due for its results against top opponents? Women's basketball doesn't rate teams along the same quadrant metrics used in the men's game. But it uses a similar system of NET rankings that rates teams into groups of 25 based on efficiency and opponent strength among other metrics.

Based on those numbers, UConn played the nation's most difficult schedule this season. It finished 11-3 against teams ranked in the NET top 25. That's more wins against the top 25 than any other program.

Virginia Tech finished 10-2, while South Carolina finished a perfect 9-0 against top-tier opponents en route to a 32-0 campaign. No. 1 seed Indiana finished 6-2 against the NET top 25 while Stanford finished 9-3.

Those numbers appear to be what Auriemma alluded to when citing "men's criteria." They paint a strong case for UConn, but they don't tell the whole story about a team that finished 29-5 and has lost three of those games since the start of February.

UConn made a borderline case for the top line and ended up drawing a No. 2 seed, which is fine. Only four teams can earn No. 1 seeds. It's a conclusion that Auriemma appeared to eventually land on — even if he's not pleased about it.