Chasing Huskies (Again)
With forward Jessica Breland unlikely to play after undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's lymphoma, much is expected of freshmen Krista Gross, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt and Cierra Robertson-Warren.
The Longhorns have a talented backcourt in senior Brittainey Raven (13.4 points) and junior Kathleen Nash (11.4), but the development of freshman center Cokie Reed is the key to a deep run.
Duke's streak of 11 consecutive trips to the Sweet 16 ended last season, but a new one should begin if junior guard Jasmine Thomas (10.2 points) has anything to say about it.
Senior forward Alysha Clark, the nation's leading scorer (27.5), a presence on the boards (9.8 rebounds a game) and a preseason Wooden Award candidate, leads a stocked team.
Last season senior guard Monica Wright set Virginia's single-season scoring record with 696 points (a 20.5 average); she needs 329 more to surpass Dawn Staley's career record of 2,135.
Top scorer Epiphanny Prince passed up her senior year to play overseas, but the Scarlet Knights have talented returnees in guards Brittany Ray (10.2 points) and Khadijah Rushdan (7.0).
The Commodores need junior forward Hannah Tuomi (11.4 points) and senior guard Merideth Marsh (81 three-pointers) to make up for the loss of All-SEC forward Christina Wirth.
Senior forward Heather Bowman (19.4 points, 7.5 rebounds) and junior guard Courtney Vandersloot (7.5 assists) -- back-to-back WCC players? of the year -- are preseason Wooden candidates.
Senior guard Ashley Houts, one of four returning starters, led the Lady Bulldogs in scoring (12.0), assists (4.7) and steals (2.2) and broke the school's record for average minutes played (37.7).
Freshman Kelsey Bone, a 6' 5" center, highlights a top five recruiting class for second-year coach Staley. There's plenty of talent around sophomore guard La'Keisha Sutton (11.0 points).