- Associated Press - Monday, March 12, 2012

Stanford and Connecticut have received No. 1 seeds in the women’s NCAA tournament.

The basketball madness gets started Saturday _ the first step en route to the Final Four, which begins April 1 in Denver.

Connecticut hopes to win its eighth national championship, tying Tennessee, and will start with a matchup against Prairie View.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma had told the Huskies’ faithful in the preseason that this team wouldn’t win a national championship. His young team has developed over the past five months, and Connecticut looks poised to make another run after beating Notre Dame for the Big East tournament title.

The Irish knocked the Huskies out in the Final Four last season. It was the fourth straight season that UConn made the Final Four.

The Cardinal also have advanced four straight seasons to the Final Four, and coach Tara VanDerveer is looking to get her first title in 20 years. She’ll begin with a trip East to Norfolk, Va. to face Hampton. Stanford hasn’t been east of the Rockies since 2001 when they went to Oklahoma.

Standing in the way of a fifth-trip to the Final Four could be second-seed Duke, which lost in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. The Blue Devils are led by talented freshman post Elizabeth Williams and sophomore guard Chelsea Grey and will face Samford in the opening round.

Another intriguing team in that region is third-seeded St. John’s, which ended UConn’s 99-game homecourt winning streak in February. The Red Storm have won 14 of their last 17 games after falling to the Huskies in the semifinals of the Big East tournament. Third seed St. John’s faces Creighton in its opener.

In the Fresno regional, eight-seed West Virginia plays No. 9 Texas; No. 5 South Carolina meets 12th-seed Eastern Michigan; No. 4 Purdue faces 13th-seed South Dakota State; sixth-seed Oklahoma hosts No. 11 Michigan; and No. 7 Vanderbilt hosts No. 10 Middle Tennessee.

In the Bridgeport regional, No. 8 Kansas State will play ninth-ranked Princeton, which became the first Ivy League team to make the Top 25 on Monday; fifth-seed LSU hosts No. 12 San Diego State; No. 4 Penn State plays 13th-ranked UTEP; No. 6 Rutgers visits 11th-seed Gonzaga; No. 3 Miami plays 14th-seed Idaho State; No. 7 Green Bay takes on 10th-seed Iowa State; and second-seed Kentucky plays No. 15 McNeese State.