Charlie Creme, 949d

UConn leads way in 1-through-64 power rankings

Women's College Basketball, Notre Dame Fighting Irish, South Carolina Gamecocks, Princeton Tigers, Tennessee Lady Vols, Michigan State Spartans, Mississippi State Bulldogs, Connecticut Huskies

What better way to get ready for the first round than to read up on every team in the field?

We rank the 64 teams ahead of Friday's women's NCAA tournament openers.

64. Robert Morris Colonials
The Colonials' two best opponents this season were Iowa and Florida, which beat them by a combined 46 points. They should feel good if they stay within that number against Connecticut.

63. Jacksonville Dolphins
Dolphins' coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin is also the national coach for the Bahamas. Perhaps she can convince Dawn Staley to move the game there. South Carolina fans do like to travel, right?

62. North Carolina A&T Aggies
The Aggies are in the NCAA tournament for the first time in seven years. North Carolina isn't. Duke isn't. NC State isn't. Wake Forest isn't. Who would have guessed North Carolina A&T and UNC Asheville would have the state to themselves?

61. Idaho Vandals
The Vandals play their home games in Moscow (Idaho), have four players from Australia, one from Bosnia and one from Spain on the roster.

60. Troy Trojans
La'Tia Fils-Aime' might have the best name in the entire tournament, and her 10 clutch points in the Sun Belt championship game against UALR are a big reason why the Trojans are in the tournament for the second time. This after winning just two games in 2012.

59. Alabama State Lady Hornets
Coach Freda Freeman-Jackson calls top Lady Hornets Britney Wright, Jasmine Peeples and Daniele Ewert her three-headed monster. Has Austin ever been the site of a horror movie?

58. Iona Gaels
"The Dick Van Dyke Show" took place in New Rochelle, New York, home of the Gaels' campus about 20 miles north of Midtown Manhattan. The odds of Iona beating Maryland are probably better than the chances of any of the players having heard of the show, which was popular in the early 1960s.

57. New Mexico State Aggies
Coach Mark Trakh has led three different programs to the NCAA tournament and is the just the second coach in Aggies history to do it two years in a row.

56. UNC Asheville Bulldogs
Three years ago, the Bulldogs won two games all season. Last week they won three in three days to win the Big South tournament.

55. Hawaii Rainbow Wahine
Hawaii has five players from Southern California on the roster. Maybe they will get a home-cooked meal while in town to play UCLA.

54. Buffalo Bulls
The Bulls are one of seven schools from New York state in the tournament. One of the others is Syracuse, where Buffalo coach Felisha Legette-Jack graduated in 1989 as the Orange's all-time leading scorer and rebounder.

53. Central Arkansas Sugar Bears
It's just a coincidence that the Sugar Bears are playing their first-round game in the Yum! Center, right?

52. Missouri State Lady Bears
The Lady Bears haven't been to the NCAA tournament since 2006. But given the program's history (two Final Fours, a Sweet 16), it should be no surprise that Missouri State is a combined 5-2 all-time against Texas A&M, Florida State and Middle Tennessee, the other three teams in its sub-regional.

51. Belmont Bruins
The Bruins rank ninth in the country in total rebounds. Michigan State, their opponent in the first round, is 13th. Our best advice? Don't miss.

50. San Francisco Dons
Coach Jennifer Azzi won the Wade Trophy, the Naismith Award and a national championship in 1990 as the captain and point guard at Stanford. Now she is just trying to win one game against Stanford.

49. Army West Point
Senior point guard Kelsey Minato enters the NCAA tournament averaging 23.6 points per game and shooting 48.4 percent from 3-point range and 87.2 percent from the free throw line. Worth the watch if you haven't seen this already.

48. Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders
Conference USA Freshman of the Year Alex Johnson might be the next great player in a long line under Rick Insell in Murfreesboro.

47. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
South Dakota State, which was ranked No. 7 in Graham Hays' final mid-major poll earlier this month, has now won the Summit League in seven of the past eight seasons.

46. Chattanooga Lady Mocs
Proof that mid-majors can schedule? The Lady Mocs had six NCAA tournament teams on their slate this season.

45. Albany Great Danes
Senior Shereesha Richards has had the biggest career in Great Danes' history. She became Albany's all-time leading scorer as a junior, is a three-time America East Player of the Year and as a senior averages 23.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Now she gets to play in the biggest arena of her career -- the Carrier Dome.

44. Colorado State Rams
The Rams have the best record (29-1) in the field of any team that doesn't have a No. 1 in front of its name.

43. James Madison Dukes
The Dukes lost their best player, Precious Hall, to a knee injury in the preseason and still won the Colonial Athletic Association by four games.

42. Princeton Tigers
I'll take "another first" for $200, Alex. "Answer: This team was the first from the Ivy League to earn an at-large berth to the women's NCAA tournament."

41. Purdue Boilermakers
April Wilson is Purdue's best player. Wilson is from Kentucky. The Boilermakers play their first game in Lexington. Have to love career symmetry.

40. Penn Quakers
Sydney Stipanovich is the Quakers' and the Ivy League's best player. To be continued below.

39. Missouri Tigers
Stipanovich's uncle, Steve, was an All-American at Missouri in the early 1980s and was the second overall pick in the 1983 NBA draft.

38. St. Bonaventure Bonnies
The Bonnies have made the tournament just one other time, in 2012, and they made that one count, getting to the Sweet 16.

37. Auburn Tigers
Being the ninth of nine SEC teams in the tournament field is a good thing. Imagine being the ninth child in a family trying to get dinner?

36. Indiana Hoosiers
Sophomore Tyra Buss is the next great Big Ten player. She and Minnesota's Rachel Banham were the only two players in the conference's top-10 in scoring, assists and steals.

35. Georgia Lady Dogs
Without second-leading scorer Shacobia Barbee, the Lady Dogs scored just 60 and 49 points (in overtime, no less) in their past two games. The Georgia "D" might have to grade an A to advance.

34. Green Bay Phoenix
In their previous three NCAA tournament appearances, the Phoenix have drawn LSU in Baton Rouge, 30-0 Princeton, and now Tennessee as a No. 7 seed. And the Green Bay players seem like such nice people.

33. Kansas State Wildcats
Junior forward Breanna Lewis was first-team All-Big 12 and on the league's all-defensive team. Now she gets to put that hardware to the test against George Washington's Jonquel Jones.

32. Duquesne Dukes
Guard April Robinson should be on the short list of players in this tournament capable of a triple-double.

31. Seton Hall Pirates
Tony Bozzella has guided the Pirates to consecutive NCAA tournament appearances after a 19-year drought.

30. St. John's Red Storm
Danaejah Grant and Aliyyah Handford can be the most scintillating pair of teammates in the country. They average a combined 36.1 points per game and dominate the ball in the Red Storm offense.

29. George Washington Colonials
The return of Jonquel Jones from injury seems to have transformed the Colonials back into the team many thought they would in the beginning of the season. Even with Jones healthy, GW didn't always play like that team, which might be why the Colonials are only a No. 8 seed.

28. Oklahoma State Cowgirls
Only Iona's Joy Adams has more double-doubles than the Cowgirls' Brittney Martin, who averaged 20.3 points and 11.2 rebounds per game.

27. Washington Huskies
Kelsey Plum was the nation's third-leading scorer and apparently began a coaching apprenticeship by drawing up plays occasionally in the huddle. Now coach Mike Neighbors and the Huskies are headed across the country to College Park to play in the first two rounds of the tournament.

26. BYU Cougars
Lexi Rydalch became the WCC's all-time leading scorer, man or woman, passing the late Hank Gathers at the conference tournament last week. Then when the 5-foot-10 senior fouled out in a title game, the Cougars surrendered to San Francisco and out came the quiet, fiery rage of a competitor who belies physical appearance. If she carries that over to Saturday against Missouri, we could have a shootout.

25. Tennessee Lady Vols
The most talked about team of 2016 this side of UConn has a chance to dress up a uneven season. A trip to the Sweet 16 might do that. The idea that the Lady Vols are measured only by Final Fours might need some revisiting.

24. Oklahoma Sooners
The Sooners are in their 17th straight tournament -- this time with only two double-figure scorers. Sherri Coale kept this team together and winning despite never finding a consistent shooting stroke from anyone.

23. West Virginia Mountaineers
Mike Carey is one of those coaches who no other coach really wants to play. He took a team with eight freshmen and small expectations to a third-place finish in the Big 12 and a No. 6 seed.

22. South Florida Bulls
Three of South Florida's top four players missed time with injury in what wasn't the season coach Jose Fernandez had hoped for. The good news is the one starter who didn't miss any time was All-American Courtney Williams, who helped the Bulls still finish second in the American.

21. DePaul Blue Demons
The Blue Demons are one of just six programs to have reached the past 14 NCAA tournaments. This version won the Big East regular-season title and is loaded with veteran firepower such as Chanise Jenkins, Megan Podkowa and Jessica January.

20. Florida Gators
The Gators were supposed to finish 12th in the SEC. Instead they are a No. 5 seed. And Amanda Butler wasn't conference coach of the year.

19. Miami Hurricanes
The Hurricanes stopped beating good teams until tripping Florida State in the ACC tournament. That win probably got Miami to a No. 5 seed and dropped the Seminoles from being able to host. Good team or bad, whoever is playing Miami has to stop Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas.

18. Florida State Seminoles
After last season's incredible success, the Seminoles probably didn't have quite the year they had hoped in 2015-16. When 23-7 overall and 13-3 in the ACC feels a little disappointing, that's an indicator of how far the program has grown in the past few years.

17. Mississippi State Bulldogs
Sophomore Victoria Vivians has to be the highest-scoring player (17.2 points per game) with the initials V.V. in the tournament. Do we even need a research department for that?

16. Michigan State Spartans
The Spartans earned themselves some home games and then got bumped from the Breslin Center by a high school tournament. Now Aerial Powers will have to do her fabulous work on the road in Starkville, Mississippi.

15. Texas A&M Aggies
Courtney Walker, Jordan Jones and Courtney Williams can all carry the Aggies for stretches, but two straight losses, both by double figures, could be small cause for concern. Two home games and then a possible Sweet 16 meeting with an familiar foe in Baylor could help a little.

14. Stanford Cardinal
If the Cardinal are to do any major damage, Erica McCall could be a breakout March player. Her numbers -- 14.3 points and 9.3 rebounds per game -- are already outstanding.

13. Syracuse Orange
No player in the country launches more 3-pointers than Brianna Butler. The senior headlines a shoot-first, ask-questions-later approach that is also predicated on forcing turnovers and getting on the offensive glass. The Orange are No. 1 and No. 5 in those categories nationally.

12. Kentucky Wildcats
The Wildcats will still likely have to get through Notre Dame to do it, but they could make the Final Four without leaving the city of Lexington with two games at Memorial Coliseum and two games at Rupp Arena. Even with the comfy accommodations, Kentucky will have to get stellar performances from Makayla Epps and Janae Thompson to keep playing.

11. Louisville Cardinals
Mariya Moore was supposed to be the breakout sophomore at Louisville. While Moore was still good, it was Myisha Hines-Allen who really broke out. After a tough start with a young team, the Cardinals turned into one of the best teams in the country behind ACC player of the year Hines-Allen.

10. Ohio State Buckeyes
With two losses in the past three games, there might be cause for concern in Columbus. Ameryst Alston suffered a hand injury in Ohio State's first Big Ten tournament game, which might be of even greater concern. Two home games and a favorable draw might be enough to get things rolling for the Buckeyes again.

9. UCLA Bruins
The last image of the Bruins was of them looking lost for most of the Pac-12 championship game against Oregon State. That wasn't UCLA all season. The Bruins played Notre Dame and South Carolina tough and finished third in the Pac-12regular season behind the up-tempo play of Jordin Canada, Monique Billings and Nirra Fields.

8. Texas Longhorns
The Longhorns' inability to stay even a little competitive with Baylor twice in a seven-day span might have cost them enough ground and push them into the Bridgeport Region with UConn. Karen Aston has many options to turn to on offense, but Texas lacks a bona-fide go-to star.

7. Arizona State Sun Devils
The Sun Devils are another team like that: A good collection of talent with plenty of chemistry -- but without that one truly special player. ASU has lost its past two games and struggled in some other wins down the stretch. Have the Sun Devils peaked? Can Sophie Brunner or Katie Hempen or Quinn Dornstauder be that breakout player?

6. Maryland Terrapins
Shatori Walker-Kimbrough is the only player in the nation with enough attempts to matter that is shooting better than 50 percent from 3-point range. She's far from the only good deep shooter on the team. Throw in a post player as dangerous as Brionna Jones and the top rebounding team in the country and you have the recipe for a Final Four team.

5. Oregon State Beavers
The Beavers' run to the Pac-12 tournament title was one of the most impressive championship week runs by any team and got some folks talking Final Four. Jamie Weisner has become a good enough player to play big in big moments, but can't carry a team. Fortunately, with Ruth Hamblin (fourth in the country in blocks) and Sydney Wiese at the point, she doesn't have to.

4. Baylor Lady Bears
Some are saying the media has overlooked the Lady Bears, but Kim Mulkey doesn't seem to feel that way. Baylor has bulldozed everything in its path, other than one stumble against Oklahoma State without point guard Niya Johnson, the nation's assist leader. The Lady Bears won't have to leave Texas to reach the Final Four, although the road could be wrought with potential pitfalls.

3. South Carolina Gamecocks
Twelve months ago, Dawn Staley and her team accomplished a primary goal: getting to a Final Four. Then the Gamecocks came a play short against Notre Dame in the national semifinal -- and just being in the Final Four didn't seem so satisfying anymore. South Carolina showed no mercy this season on an SEC that put nine teams in the field, going unbeaten and prepping itself for the time that has arrived. Just getting to Indianapolis won't be enough.

2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Remember when Taya Reimer left the team. That's right, neither does anyone else. The talented post player decided to step away after playing five games to start her junior season, and the Irish missed nothing. That's because Muffet McGraw has created such a hearty program that for every rare Tara Reimer case, there are two like Madison Cable and Michaela Mabrey, players who continually improved under the veteran coach. Those two seniors are part of another dominant Notre Dame team that can only wonder what life would be like if Storrs, Connecticut, was not on the map. The committee might have South Carolina as the overall No. 2, but Notre Dame really looks like the better team.

1. Connecticut Huskies
This might not be the greatest UConn team of all time, but it's pretty darn close. It's hard to envision a scenario that would deny Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Geno Auriemma and the entire Huskies program an unprecedented fourth consecutive national championship. Much of UConn's chief competition for the title -- Notre Dame, South Carolina, Ohio State and Maryland -- have already been vanquished this season. Few sure things exist in sports these days. The Huskies are at the top of that short list.

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