Way-too-early Top 25 for 2015-16

The women's basketball world has barely unpacked from a trip to Tampa ... and here we are, already eagerly looking ahead to next season.

1. Connecticut Huskies

The Huskies will be going for an unprecedented fourth consecutive championship with Breanna Stewart, Moriah Jefferson, Morgan Tuck and Kia Nurse still in the fold. In his pursuit of an 11th title, Geno Auriemma will have to replace the NCAA's career-leading 3-point shooter, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, but he brings in a freshman sharp-shooter in Katie Lou Samuelson, the nation's top-rated high school player. The Huskies will once again be the overwhelming favorite to win it all.

2. South Carolina Gamecocks

After reaching the Final Four for the first time in program history, the Gamecocks are poised to do more. With Elem Ibiam and Aleighsa Welch departing, A'ja Wilson and Alaina Coates are primed to move into the starting lineup and could be the best frontcourt duo in the country. Welch's production and leadership will be missed, but two-time SEC Player of the Year Tiffany Mitchell should have no problem making this her team in her senior season.

3. Tennessee Lady Vols

This could be the most talented team Holly Warlick has had in Knoxville with the addition of Diamond DeShields, who sat out 2014-15 after transferring from North Carolina, and Mercedes Russell -- the nation's No. 1 recruit in 2013 who redshirted this year to recover from off-season surgery on both feet. How the additions impact the chemistry of Bashaara Graves, Andraya Carter, Jordan Reynolds and Jaime Nared will be the major question. Breaking the now seven-year Final Four drought will depend on the combination working.

4. Maryland Terps

The Terrapins should once again win the Big Ten with everybody back except Laurin Mincy and top assistant coach Tina Langley, who took the head coaching job at Rice. Both will be missed, but having Lexie Brown, Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and Brionna Jones will mean more. A third straight Final Four could be in the cards.

5. Baylor Lady Bears

Despite losing 6-foot-4 Sune Agbuke, the Lady Bears will get bigger with the addition of 6-5 Kalani Brown, the daughter of former NBA standout P.J. Brown, and 6-5 Beatrice Mompremier in a well-regarded recruiting class. Of course, the real key is that All-American Nina Davis and point guard Niya Johnson, the nation's assist leader, return.

6. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Jewell Loyd's decision to forgo her senior season to begin her pro career changes things in South Bend. The Irish will still be very good with Brianna Turner, Lindsay Allen, Taya Reimer and Michaela Mabrey back, plus a top-five recruiting class led by Mabrey's sister, Marina, the New Jersey Player of the Year, and three-time Wisconsin Player of the Year Arike Ogunbowale. But a sixth consecutive Final Four has become far less likely.

7. Louisville Cardinals

Jeff Walz's new foundation has been established with Myisha Hines-Allen and Mariya Moore coming off great rookie seasons. Sprinkle in another outstanding incoming freshman class and the Cardinals will qualify as the best young team in the country.

8. North Carolina Tar Heels

Any team built around Allisha Gray and Stephanie Mavunga is a threat. Jamie Cherry came on at the end of her freshman year and should be an adequate replacement for Latifah Coleman at the point. The return of a healthy Xylina McDaniel would be a huge boost to the Tar Heels, who will be battling in an extremely competitive ACC.

9. Texas Longhorns

Anyone who played significant minutes in this past season's run to the Sweet 16 is back. The rebuild by Karen Aston seems about ready to really pay off. This was a top-five team in November-December until injuries started to take a toll. The frontcourt duo of Imani McGee-Stafford and Kelsey Lang will be difficult for the rest of Big 12 to handle.

10. Florida State Seminoles

Sue Semrau's club surprised nearly everyone in 2014-15 by finishing second in the ACC and falling two possessions shy of the Final Four. Leticia Romero, Adut Bulgak and Ivey Slaughter will form a nucleus of what should be another outstanding Seminoles team. Florida State was one of the country's dominant rebounding units, and 93 percent of it returns.

11. Mississippi State Bulldogs

Vic Schaefer's young team, which made great strides for the program in 2014-15, should get even better next season. The Bulldogs set school records for overall (27) and SEC (11) victories. The third-place SEC finish was the program's best. Victoria Vivians is the potential star whom the Bulldogs are built around.

12. Oregon State Beavers

Scott Rueck returns four of the five starters that produced the best season in school history -- a first-ever Pac-12 championship and a school-record 27 wins. Ruth Hamblin was the conference player of the year and returns for her senior season, one that should have the Beavers as the preseason favorite to repeat as league champs.

13. Ohio State Buckeyes

The highest-scoring backcourt duo in the country -- Kelsey Mitchell and Ameryst Alston -- is nowhere near done. Mitchell (24.9 PPG), the nation's leading scorer, will be a sophomore, and Alston (19.8 PPG) moves into her senior season. In fact, coach Kevin McGuff loses only one player from a roster that looked much better in March than it did in November; 6-3 Alexa Hart was the embodiment of the improvement.

14. Arizona State Sun Devils

With the exception of third-leading scorer Promise Amukamara, everyone returns from a team that surprised everybody outside of Tempe. Fearless shooter Kate Hempen and post Sophie Brunner will lead a typically balanced Charli Turner Thorne team into a Pac-12 race that is no longer just Stanford's domain.

15. Duke Blue Devils

The Blue Devils will move from being Elizabeth Williams' team to being Azura Stevens' team. The soon-to-be-sophomore forward/guard could on the cusp of being a top-10 or top-15 player in the game. Rebecca Greenwell needs some help in the backcourt, and the point guard problem could be solved by the arrival of Angela Salvadores, a top-10 recruit.

16. Kentucky Wildcats

With a second-round loss to Dayton on their home court, the Wildcats -- who were a 2-seed -- would certainly view the 2014-15 season as a disappointment. Matthew Mitchell will largely be relying on Makayla Epps, Linnae Harper and the healthy return of Janee Thompson to rectify that. Program mainstays Bria Goss and Jennifer O'Neill are gone, but a four-player recruiting class features two point guards who should help compensate.

17. Texas A&M Aggies

The entire season went sideways when point guard Jordan Jones went down with a knee injury in the final weeks. Her return, which might be closer to midseason, and the more rapid development of post Khaalia Hillsman, will be the keys to the Aggies' staying in the top four of tough SEC. Courtney Williams and Courtney Walker each had their usual solid seasons, but increased efficiency from them on the offensive end would also help.

18. George Washington Colonials

Jonquel Jones and Caira Washington -- and all their size and athleticism -- return, meaning the Colonials should continue to be a dominating rebounding club. The question will be replacing the top two distributors. Third-leading scorer Hannah Schaible will likely need to take on an even bigger role, and coach Jonathan Tsipis will have to find another shooter or two to improve upon what was a weakness in 2014-15.

19. Oklahoma Sooners

The Sooners graduate just one player and will look very similar to the 2014-15 team. The long-range shooting of Peyton Little and the point guard skills of Gabbi Ortiz will become the centerpiece of Sherri Coale's offense. That is an offense that put up 111 points in an NCAA tournament game. Oklahoma should be the biggest threat to Baylor in the Big 12.

20. Stanford Cardinal

Amber Orrange and Bonnie Samuelson depart, but look for Lili Thompson to be an even bigger scorer and for Erica McCall and Kaylee Johnson to blossom as sophomores. The Pac-12 run of dominance is over, but the Cardinal will still be one of the league's top-three teams.

21. South Florida Bulls

Coach Jose Fernandez has a contract extension, the Bulls just matched a program-high 27 wins and their highest-ever NCAA tournament seed (No. 6), and USF reached the second round. The best news of all is that All-American candidate Courtney Williams is back for her senior season. She led the American in scoring, while classmate Alisia Jenkins was the league's top rebounder.

22. LSU Lady Tigers

Having Danielle Ballard for a full season will be a huge boost. The Lady Tigers were a solid 10-6 in the SEC, but just 17-14 overall because Ballard and her 14.5 points per game missed the first 14 games due to a suspension. Second-leading scorer Raigyne Moncrief is back too. Nikki Caldwell could use some help in the post and brings in 6-1 freshman Ayanna Mitchell to improve LSU's rebounding and interior defense.

23. Northwestern Wildcats

The Wildcats are coming off the program's best season in nearly 20 years and their first NCAA tournament berth since 1997. Joe McKeown, who won his 600th game as a coach last season, returns his top five scorers and should only build on everything that happened in 2014-15. Junior Nia Coffey, who finished in the top 10 in the Big Ten in scoring and rebounding, will lead the way.

24. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles

With the return of Whitney Knight and Kaneisha Atwater, who each scored more than 14 points per game last season, the Eagles will be big favorites to win the Atlantic Sun for the sixth year in a row. They also earned their first NCAA tournament win. Karl Smesko's spread offense produced the third-most made 3-pointers per game (9.6) in the country -- and all his best shooters return.

25. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

A promising season wilted down the stretch, but C. Vivian Stringer has some of the pieces to avoid that next season. Kahleah Copper and Tyler Scaife, who combined for more than 30 points per game, will be the foundation. The tricky part will be compensating for Betnijah Laney's rebounding and Syessence Davis' perimeter defense. Scaife will likely have more control of the offense, and Rutgers will be in contention for a top-four Big Ten finish.

Also considered: Arkansas, Cal, Chattanooga, Dayton, James Madison, Iowa, Miami, Michigan, Michigan State, Syracuse, UCLA, West Virginia