1. Baylor: Reigning national champs. Reigning national player of the year Brittney Griner. All five starters return. Need I say more?
2. Connecticut: Perennial national power Uconn is seemingly always in the hunt for the title. This year is no different.
3. Duke: The Blue Devils haven’t won national titles like the men’s program, but they have been one of the best in women’s hoops for a while.
4. Stanford: All-American Chiney Ogwumike (15 ppg, 10.1 rpg) leads a program that has made five straight Final Four appearances and won 12 straight conference titles.
5. Maryland: The Terrapins return three all-ACC starters, including ACC Player of the Year Alyssa Thomas who helped Maryland to a 31-5 record and an Elite Eight appearance.
6. Kentucky: Second Elite Eight appearance in three years coupled with first SEC regular-season title in 30 years makes this team a true contender.
7. Notre Dame: Skylar Diggins is one of the best players in the nation and because of that she gives the Irish a great shot to win a national title.
8. Penn State: Alex Bentley (preseason co-Big Ten player of the year) leads a team that won the Big Ten regular season and made the Sweet 16 for the first time in eight years.
9. Louisville: Four starters return with huge expectations after the Cardinals made their sixth NCAA tournament appearance in seven years.
10. Georgia: The last time the Bulldogs had four returning double-digit scorers (2001), they won their second straight SEC title.
11. Ohio State: Returns four starters, including senior guard Taylor Hill who is one of the nation’s best players.
12. Delaware: All-American Elena Delle Donne makes this the women’s version of Butler.
13. California: Nearly everyone returns for second-year coach Lindsay Gottlieb, who guided the Bears to runner-up finishes in the Pac-12 regular season and tournament.
14. Vanderbilt: All five starters return, including first-team All-SEC player Christina Foggie, for a program that has had 10 straight NCAA tournament berths.
15. Oklahoma: Guard Whitney Hand, wife of OU quarterback Landry Jones, leads a team that returns all five starters who helped the Sooners finish second in the Big 12 and make their 13th straight NCAA tournament.
16. West Virginia: First season in the Big12 could be interesting after playing in the always tough Big East.
17. St. John’s: Looking for its fourth straight NCAA tournament berth from a team that returns four starters from the program’s first Sweet 16 appearance.
18. Texas A&M: Led by Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame coach Gary Blair, the Aggies first season in the deep SEC won’t be a shock for a program that won the NCAA title in 2011 and has reached the Sweet 16 four of the last five years.
19. Nebraska: Jordan Hooper and Lindsey Moore, two of the nation’s best players, will lead a team that returns four starters.
20. Tennessee: Odd to see the Lady Vols this low, but we’ll see if the rift between the school and Pat Summit’s leaving is a distraction.
21. Middle Tennessee: As odd as it is to see Tennessee low, it’s even stranger to see Middle Tennessee competing for the best women’s hoops program in the Volunteer state.
22. Oklahoma State: Last year’s WNIT champions won nine of their last 10 games and return all five starters, including Big 12 Freshman of the Year Liz Donohoe.
23. Purdue: Last year’s Big Ten tournament champions have a lot to prove to their conference, which picked the Boilermakers third in the preseason team.
24. Miami (Fla.): The return of All-ACC players Stefanie Yderstrom and Morgan Stroman make the Hurricanes a threat nationally.
25. DePaul: Six of the top seven players return, including All-American Anna Martin and the Big East’s leading rebounder in Katherine Harry.