GENO AURIEMMA and his Connecticut Huskies are ready to begin their quest for a third straight national championship.

The Huskies (32-1) earned the first overall seed in the women's NCAA Tournament and placed in the Albany Region. They are looking for their 10th overall title, which would tie Auriemma with UCLA men's coach John Wooden for most all-time.

"This is why you coach," Auriemma said of going for a third straight championship. "This is why you come to Connecticut if you are one of these players. Are we mature enough to handle it? We will find that out very soon."

Though Connecticut is favored to threepeat, Auriemma said winning another title isn't a guarantee.

"The fact that everybody thinks it's a done deal, that we're going to win the whole thing," Auriemma said, "those are probably people who have never coached, or haven't coached in a Final Four or have won a national championship."

Joining the Huskies as top seeds in the 64-team tournament that begins Friday are Maryland, South Carolina and Notre Dame.

Notre Dame and UConn, former Big East rivals, met in the national championship game last season as undefeated teams with the Huskies coming away with the victory. The pair played earlier this season in South Bend, Ind., and the Huskies won by 18 points. UConn also beat South Carolina on Feb. 9 by 25.

The Huskies, who are led by Breanna Stewart, seem to be improving and have been rolling - winning games by an average of 42 points this season.

UConn will open on Saturday in Storrs, Conn., against St. Francis, Brooklyn, which is making its first tournament appearance. The Terriers (15-18) are the 10th team to enter the NCAAs with a losing record.