It was a good news/bad news situation for Kentucky on Monday night.
The No. 11 Cats, a projected No. 4 seed by ESPN's Bracketology, actually were selected as a No. 2 seed in the Women's NCAA Tournament and will get to play their first two rounds at home.
The bad news is the Cats are in the same bracket as top-ranked Connecticut for the second time in three years.
"They just can't escape the UConn shadow," analyst Kara Lawson said on the ESPN broadcast while UK fans cheered with the players during a selection show party at Memorial Coliseum.
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As the crowd died down and started to digest the matchups that include a rematch with Ohio Valley Conference Tournament champion Tennessee State in the first round on Friday, the ESPN analysts noted that No. 2 seeds are 0-for-17 versus the Huskies in the NCAA Tournament.
Doesn't matter, Mitchell and his players said.
"If you are sad about that opportunity, then you deserve to get beat and you need to go home," he said.
His players are not going to focus on Connecticut or any of the other storylines that litter the Albany Regional.
"I'll tell you what you do if you start thinking about UConn, you won't have to worry about them because you won't see them," Mitchell said. "If we see UConn, we will have played some good basketball because that means we are in the final eight and then we will address UConn."
On the bus ride from Ole Miss to the Memphis airport after the Cats had dropped three in a row a couple of weeks ago, the UK players never imagined they'd be awarded a No. 2 seed by the NCAA Selection Committee.
Kentucky looked broken, but it found its way back.
A difficult schedule — ranked seventh-toughest in the nation, including wins over No. 3 South Carolina, No. 5 Baylor, No. 8 Louisville and No. 12 Mississippi State (twice) — helped elevate the Cats to a No. 2 seed.
Bria Goss said she was so excited she didn't even see what team Kentucky was playing.
"Seeing our name up there as a No. 2 seed, you think about all the adversity we've been through and it was almost like a sigh of relief," she said.
No matter what round or what opponent, Kentucky is going to wear that seed like a badge of honor, fellow senior Jennifer O'Neill said.
"It's not even the fact that nobody thought that we were going to be a No. 2 seed," she said. "It's just the fact that we are a No. 2 seed. You can't take it away now. We are what we are."
There is loads of familiarity in the Albany Regional, long before the Cats could potentially hit Connecticut again.
First-round opponent Tennessee State fell to UK 87-75 at Memorial Coliseum in late December. The Cats were without leading scorer O'Neill, who tweaked her knee the day before.
The Cats fell behind by eight points before pulling away in the second half behind a career-high 27 points from freshman forward Alexis Jennings.
Potentially looming in the next round is Dayton, a team UK topped in the 2013 NCAA Tournament when Cats assistant coach Adeniyi Amadou had the same role on the Flyers' bench.
Seventh-seeded Dayton (25-6) will meet No. 10 seed Iowa State (18-12) in the first game Friday at noon at Memorial Coliseum.
The second-round game at Memorial Coliseum will be played at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. All games will be shown on ESPN2.
If the Cats survive their home games, a potential rematch with No. 3 seed Louisville could be in the cards.
While not straying much from the focus-on-the-next-game coaching mantra, Mitchell acknowledged that the region presented some "very intriguing matchups.
"I understand the desire to talk about those matchups," he continued. "I will say this could be a very, very entertaining region and we just want to go in and play our very best and work really hard and try to win four games and get to the Final Four."
When asked about the potential female version of the "Dream Game" in the region semifinal, Louisville Coach Jeff Walz said he was excited to be in the same region as Kentucky, which has beaten the Cardinals four straight times, including a come-from-behind win at Louisville in early December.
"But we've got a lot of work to do before we can worry about that," Walz said.
Unlike the men's programs, which seem to meet up in the NCAA Tournament every season, the women's Cardinals and Cats have never met in postseason play.
Another Kentucky team, Western Kentucky, also is in the Albany bracket as a No. 12 seed. The Lady Tops will meet fifth-seeded Texas in the first round.
"It speaks volumes for our state," Walz said. "When you've got three teams that are being represented in the NCAA Tournament, it's an exciting time."