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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Geno Auriemma says Jackson State, HBCUs deserve higher seeding

The Jackson State women’s basketball team has long been one of the best in the Southwestern Athletic Conference and all of HBCU hoops, but their seeding in the NCAA tournament hasn’t reflected that in recent trips to the dance.

UConn head coach Geno Auriemma believes that perception is not reality as the Tigers played a competitive game before falling 86-64 to his No. 3 seed Huskies at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, Saturday afternoon.

“They go on the road against the best teams, probably lose, and the reputation is ‘They’re good in their league, but they don’t compete nationally,” Auriemma said of the road-intensive schedule Jackson State and most HBCUs play to start the season. “Jackson State and some of the programs have proven they can go on the road and compete.”

Auriemma also said that the Tigers earning a 14 seed could be a step in the right direction for themselves and similar programs.

“I remember when we were the No. 1 seed, we’d play schools from that league as a 16 seed. So I think them being a 14 means there is some understanding that hey, these guys deserve it a little more than a team that finishes with a losing record in their own conference and gets a 6 or a 7 seed.”

Jackson State head coach Tomekia Reed was encouraged by Auriemma’s remarks, and also suggested a way to even the playing field.

“I would love to see this tournament to go to a neutral site like men’s basketball. We would have a better chance, teams coming in at the 16 seed, 15, 14 have a better chance to compete and not have those jitters and be on an even playing field,” Reed said. “So I would love to see the game continue to grow to that, but overall, it’s all about agreeing the game of women’s basketball, and having those big-time coaches talk about us is phenomenal. It’s outstanding and much appreciated.”

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