STORRS, Conn. -- Geno Auriemma decided to look forward to the 2014 NCAA tournament by turning back the clock 19 years when his University of Connecticut women's basketball team won its first national championship.
UConn (34-0) was given the overall No. 1 seed Monday and was placed in the Lincoln (Neb.) Regional. The Huskies will take on 16th-seeded Prairie View A&M (14-17) -- the Southwestern Athletic Conference tournament champion -- Sunday at Gampel Pavilion at 8 p.m. The UConn-Prairie View winner will take on either ninth-seeded Saint Joseph's out of the Atlantic 10 or No. 8 Georgia out of the Southeastern Conference March 25 here at 7 p.m.
But the first-year American Athletic Conference received just two spots in the 64-team field -- UConn with the automatic bid and Louisville as an at-large. The Cardinals are the No. 3 seed in the regional they are hosting.
"It reminds me of 1995, deja vu all over again," Auriemma said. "Didn't Yogi Berra say that? In 1995 we got only two teams in the NCAA tournament (UConn and Seton Hall) and we did pretty well that year. I was really disappointed because I thought that South Florida played great down the stretch. So I was disappointed for them. The rest? Everybody is going to have to figure out a way to schedule the right games and beat the right teams. We're going to have to do in our conference what we did in the late '90s in the Big East.
"There's really nothing you can do about that. We got Notre Dame, West Virginia, DePaul, Syracuse, St. John's ... We got a bunch of teams in," he added with a smile. "So I'll hold on to that for a little while."
The Atlantic Coast Conference and the Southeastern Conference led the way with eight bids apiece. The Big 12 received six bids while the Big Ten and Pac-12 got five each. Even the A-10 topped the AAC with three. The new Big East got just two.
"I believe in a lot of conspiracies. I know a couple of guys that know a couple of guys that were in the grassy knoll, I think," Auriemma said. "I don't know if they sat around and said let's intentionally do this to that conference. Conferences are treated as a whole. Here's your RPI, here is what your teams did. You almost have to do it Wichita State's men did. You just don't know. You just don't know."
The other No. 1 seeds are Notre Dame on its home court in South Bend, Tennessee in the Louisville Regional, and South Carolina in the Stanford Regional. If the seeds hold up to the Final Four, the Huskies and Gamecocks would meet in the national semifinals.
Duke is the No. 2 seed in Lincoln followed by Texas A&M and the host school Nebraska. The Blue Devils and Aggies received at-large bids while the Cornhuskers earned the Big Ten's automatic bid.
The regional semifinals and final are scheduled for March 29 and 31 at Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln. UConn has never played a game in Nebraska. In fact, in their first 25 NCAA appearances the Huskies have played just one true road game -- at Vanderbilt in 1992.
"I felt all along we would probably end up in Lincoln, Nebraska," Auriemma said. "As it turns out, that's probably the right choice. I thought the committee did a pretty good job. Everyone was talking, 'We're going to go to Louisville. We're going to go to Louisville.' I don't know where everybody got that but it seemed to be a popular theory. I never thought we'd go to Louisville.
"You knew Nebraska was going to be there, you just didn't know what number. Texas A&M had a great year. People might be a little surprised at Duke as a No. 2 but when you look at how well they've played given their injuries, maybe they deserve it the way they responded from that kind of adversity."
For the players, they just want to play. By the time they take the court on Sunday, it will have been 13 days since they beat Louisville for the AAC tournament title.
"We want to go out there and prove why we've been voted the No. 1 team in the country all season," UConn All-American Bria Hartley said. "We want to go out and play our best basketball and go win the national championship. I don't know if we have anything to lose, but there is a lot for us to win."
The Huskies took some time off last week to rest. All-American center Stefanie Dolson has not practiced (flu) but is expected to take part in Tuesday's workout.
"The next two days will be really important, tomorrow and Wednesday," Auriemma said. "We'll take Thursday off and come back Friday and it will be a sprint from there. These next two days we'll get a lot done."
The Huskies, who are making their 26th consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, and Prairie View have played once -- in the 2012 NCAA first-round at Webster Bank Arena. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 21 points as UConn won 83-47.
The Panthers opened the season 0-11. They had a pair of five-game winning streaks before losing their last three regular season games. In the SWAC tournament, Alabama State, Southern, and Texas Southern to get the SWAC's automatic bid. Tourney MVP Jeanette Jackson had 22 points in the 63-58 final win.
The teams have one common opponent -- Houston. The Cougars defeated Prairie View 74-46 on Dec. 1. The Huskies routed Houston twice -- 90-40 on Jan. 7 and 92-41 on Feb. 22.
UConn has won 21 straight NCAA first-round games. The Huskies have not faced Saint Joseph's (22-9) in NCAA play. They've met Georgia (20-11) once, pulling out a Sweet 16 win in Bridgeport on Barbara Turner's 3-point basket in the final seconds.
"There are a lot of good teams in our brackets and we can't afford to take any team lightly," UConn guard Moriah Jefferson said. "We have to be prepared for every game right from the start because it's one and done."