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Great Danes to Face Greatest Team in College Basketball

UAlbany given worst seed in tournament despite winning six consecutive conference titles.

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In 2016, University at Albany’s women’s basketball team defeated Florida in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to advance the Danes into the second round for the first time in school history.

Barring an upset that would be on par with the “Miracle on Ice,” UAlbany won’t get the chance to do it again.

Despite winning the America East title for an unprecedented sixth year in a row, the NCAA selection committee awarded (or disrespected) UAlbany with a No. 16 seed.

For those not well-versed in college basketball, a 16 seed is the worst one a team can get. The 16 plays a No. 1 seed. On the men’s side, a 16 has never beaten a 1. It’s only happened once in women’s basketball, and that was in 1998 when Harvard shocked the world by beating Stanford.

And by the way, UAlbany isn’t playing just any regular 1 seed.

UAlbany will play the University of Connecticut, currently the most dominant team in collegiate and professional sports.

The Huskies, led by Hall of Fame coach Geno Auriemma, have won 107 games in a row dating back to November 2014.

UConn has won four national titles in a row and has shown no signs it won’t win a fifth in 2017. Auriemma’s squad has won by an average of 33 points per game this year despite playing the most difficult schedule in the NCAA. The Huskies have even won a few games by 60+ points.

All of this is despite losing their three best players to the pros this season. And oh yeah, those three women were the first, second, and third picks in the WNBA Draft.

To be perfectly blunt, UAlbany has no chance. Not even a fighting chance. And what a shame it is.

Head coach Joanna Bernabei-McNamee just won a conference title in her first season at the helm. Imani Tate, one of the program’s all-time players, will be the focal point of a UConn defense that will swarm her at every opportunity. Tate will likely finish her illustrious career with one of the worst games of her life.

Why did the committee give UAlbany the worst matchup in the tournament? That’s a great question.

Championships don’t grow on trees. They have to be earned, especially in a low-major conference like the America East. It’s astounding that UAlbany has gone on this streak of dominance over the past six seasons. By giving it this seed, the committee is saying UAlbany is the worst team in the NCAA Tournament. And that is simply not true.

This team claws. This team fights. They’re proven winners, and yet they’ve been disrespected in the biggest of ways. UAlbany was originally projected for a No. 13/14 seed. To get a 16 is laughable.

A 16 seed is reserved for the teams that finish the season with a 15-15 record and who get lucky by winning their conference tournament to automatically qualify for the Big Dance. It’s not reserved for teams who finish with a 21-11 record and win six titles in a row.

It’s embarrassing. And it’s even more embarrassing that UAlbany’s tremendous season will have to come to an end like this.

 

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