Big East at-large
Record: 31-1 (16-0).
Coach: Geno Auriemma.
Top Players: G Diana Taurasi, 6-0, Jr. (16.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 83 FT%); C Jessica Moore, 6-3, Soph. (10.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 62 FG%); G Ann Strother, 6-2, Fr. (10.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 38 3-pt. FG%); F Barbara Turner, 6-0, Fr. (10.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 49 FG%).
Data: The Huskies will try to begin a new winning streak after their 70-game run ended with a stunning loss to Villanova in the Big East tournament final last week. A new streak might last a while, considering the Huskies have no seniors and Taurasi is the only junior among their top five scorers. The players have a history of scoring points: Six of them were the all-time leading scorers at their high schools. This glamour team certainly draws a crowd -- they played in front of at least 8,000 fans 18 times this season, including five times on the road.
Big Ten champion
Record: 26-5 (12-4).
Coach: Kristy Curry.
Top Players: F Shereka Wright, 5-10, Jr. (19.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.5 apg); G Erika Valek, 5-6, Jr. (13.4 ppg, 5.2 apg, 4.0 rpg); C Mary Jo Noon, 6-5, Sr. (10.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg).
Data: Few teams have as much experience as the Boilermakers -- Wright, Noon and forward Lindsey Hicks played in the 2001 title game against Notre Dame. Valek suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the round of 16 that year, but with hard work she reestablished herself as the team's leader this season. That core of players helped the Boilermakers excel in their biggest games, winning five of seven contests against ranked opponents. Wright, who has attempted the most free throws in school history, as a junior, goes to the line nine times a game and shoots 77 percent.
3 Kansas State
Big 12 at-large
Record: 28-4 (14-2).
Coach: Deb Patterson.
Top Players: F Kendra Wecker, 5-11, Soph. (19.2 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.7 apg); F-C Nicole Ohlde, 6-4, Jr., (18.4 ppg, 9 rpg, 1.9 bpg); G-F Megan Mahoney, 6-0, Soph. (14.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 4.8 apg).
Data: In three seasons the Wildcats have gone from 12-16 to a high seed and early favorite in the NCAA tournament. Moreover, they did it despite foot and ankle injuries that kept sharpshooting sophomore guard Laurie Koehn, who averaged nearly 18 points per game last season, out of 10 games. Kansas State ranks in the nation's top 10 in six statistical categories, and its best could be yet to come -- there are no seniors and just three juniors on the roster. Ohlde earned Big 12 player of the year honors.
Record: 21-9 (11-6).
Coach: Melanie Balcomb.
Top Players: G Ashley McElhiney, 5-6, Sr. (10.1 ppg, 7.7 apg, 42.1 3-pt.%); F Jenni Benningfield, 6-3, Jr. (16.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 56.5 FG%); C Chantelle Anderson, 6-6, Sr. (18.1 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 62.4 FG%).
Data: The Commodores had a disappointing -- by their standards -- season, initially struggling in league play before rallying to finish tied for fifth and failing to repeat their SEC tournament title. But this is a very dangerous team, one which plays a high-tempo style installed by first-year coach Balcomb and can outscore anyone on any given day. Vandy's offensive prowess, as orchestrated by national assist leader McElhiney, is reflected by the fact that it is the only SEC team shooting above 50 percent. The Commodores feature three of the conference's top six three-point shooters, including sophomore guard Abi Ramsey, who has come on strong lately.
5 Boston College
Big East at-large
Record: 20-8 (12-4).
Coach: Cathy Inglese.
Top players: G Jessalyn Deveny, 5-9, Soph. (17.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 84 FT%); F Becky Gottstein, 6-1, Sr. (15.3 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 55 FG%); G Amber Jacobs, 5-8, Jr. (11.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 89 FT%).
Data: Deveny is one of five players to have led the team in scoring this season; she also missed three late-season games with an injured right ankle but came back for the Big East tournament. Deveny became acquainted with BC when she went there for baton-twirling practice as a 6-year-old, and selected the school out of more than 100 scholarship offers she received -- for basketball -- as a high school senior. Inglese gets the most out of her players, which isn't a surprise: She graduated magna cum laude from college and has a master's degree in education.
Record: 22-8 (13-5).
Coach: Joan Bonvicini.
Top Players: C Shawntinice Polk, 6-5, Fr. (17.7 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.7 bpg); G Dee-Dee Wheeler, 5-6, Soph. (16.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 37 3-pt.%); F Krista Warren, 6-2, Sr. (11.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 57.4 FG%).
Data: Polk has had a phenomenal rookie season, ranking sixth in the nation in field goal percentage (62.5 percent), 10th in blocked shots and 12th in rebounding. But the Wildcats still depend on Wheeler, who averaged 19.5 points on 50.3 percent shooting in their last 11 regular season wins but only 13.3 points on 36.6 percent shooting in their last four losses. Arizona beat three ranked teams (Georgia, Washington and Stanford) and lost to LSU in overtime at home, but were 7-6 in road games. They also shot just 62.6 percent from the free throw line and averaged 18.7 turnovers per game.
7 Virginia Tech
Big East at-large
Record: 21-9 (10-6).
Coach: Bonnie Henrickson.
Key Players: F Ieva Kublina, 6-4, Jr. (15.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 80 FT%); G Chrystal Starling, 5-11, Sr. (11.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 86 FT%); G Carrie Mason, 5-7, Fr. (10.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 77 FT%).
Data: Henrickson was worried Kublina would wear down as the season progressed after she spent the summer playing in the European championships; instead, Kublina averaged 16 points over the final six regular season and Big East tournament games. Freshman G Dawn Chriss (St. John's) also has played well lately; she had 27 points in three Big East tournament games.
8 Michigan St.
Big Ten at-large
Record: 17-11 (10-6).
Coach: Joanne P. McCallie.
Top Players: F Syreeta Bromfield, 6-0, Sr. (15.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.1 apg); G Lindsay Bowen, 5-7, Fr. (13.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 48 3-pt.%); C Kelli Roehrig, 6-4, Soph. (12.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 60 FG%).
Data: The two best first-year players in the Big Ten play for the Spartans -- Bowen and forward Liz Shimek (10.6 ppg, 9.3 rpg) were named co-freshmen of the year. Those two are just part of a balanced scoring attack for Michigan State, as five players average in double figures. The Spartans like to get to the line -- they made more free throws (383) than opponents attempted (349) -- and they are third in the nation in free throw percentage (79 percent). Michigan State usually dominates the boards -- the Spartans have a plus-8.3 rebounding margin.
9 Texas Christian
Conference USA champion
Record: 19-13 (8-6).
Coach: Jeff Mittie.
Top Players: C Sandora Irvin, 6-4, Soph. (12 ppg, 9.6 rpg, 4 bpg); G Ebony Shaw, 5-10, Jr. (10.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 37 3-pt.%); F Tiffany Evans, 6-2, Jr. (9.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 39 3-pt.%).
Data: Irvin carried the Lady Frogs through their surprising run to the Conference USA tournament championship, upending East Carolina, Tulane, Charlotte and Cincinnati over four days. Irvin dominated, particularly with a 26-point, 19-rebound performance in the overtime final victory over the Bearcats. Texas Christian might not have made the NCAA field otherwise, as the Frogs lost virtually all of their big-time games during the regular season.
10 Georgia Tech
Record: 20-10 (8-8).
Coach: Agnus Berenato.
Top Players: F Fallon Stokes, 5-10, Jr. (15.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 40.8 FG%), C Sonja Mallory, 6-5, Sr. (16.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.8 bpg), G Megan Isom, 5-10, Jr. (10 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 2.1 spg).
Data: The Yellow Jackets earned their first NCAA bid since 1993, which was also the last time they hosted the Final Four. Georgia Tech, which beat in-state rival Georgia early in the season, finished with its best ACC record in school history and its first 20-win season since 1991-92. The Yellow Jackets, who are 4-6 in their last 10 games, are one of the best rebounding teams in the ACC. They average nearly eight more rebounds per game than their opponents. They are not a very good free throw shooting team, making just 65.3 percent of their foul shots.
11 Notre Dame
Big East at-large
Record: 19-10 (10-6).
Coach: Muffet McGraw.
Top Players: F Jacqueline Batteast, 6-2, Soph. (14.9 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 32 mpg); F Courtney LaVere, 6-3, Fr. (12.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 51 FG%); G Alicia Ratay, 6-0, Sr. (11.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 46 3-pt.%).
Data: Ratay's scoring average is the lowest of her four seasons -- she averaged 14.0 as a freshman, 12.9 as a sophomore and 15.4 last season. She also was held scoreless in a first-round Big East Conference loss to Villanova. In all, six players led the team in scoring. Irish would claim 10th consecutive 20-win season with a first-round victory. LaVere is the fourth California native to play for Notre Dame in its history; Batteast had fewer miles to travel -- she is from South Bend.
12 Old Dominion
Record: 21-10 (15-3).
Coach: Wendy Larry.
Top Players: G Okeisha Howard, 5-5, Sr. (14.9 ppg, 4.5 apg, 35 3-pt.%); G Shareese Grant, 5-8, Soph. (12.2 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 52 FG%); F Monique Coker, 6-1, Jr. (10.2 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.2 spg).
Data: The Monarchs continued their domination of the CAA tournament, even if the rest of the league is beginning to catch up. ODU tied Delaware in the regular season standings but beat the Blue Hens in the tournament final, improving to 35-0 all-time in the CAA tourney and winning it for the 12th time. Victories over Virginia Tech and North Carolina State bolster the Monarchs' credibility, but do not cover up a 36-point loss to North Carolina.
Big South champion
Record: 26-3 (14-0).
Coach: Carey Green.
Top Players: C-F Katie Feenstra, 6-8, Soph. (15.4 ppg, 9 rpg, 2.5 bpg); G-F Kristal Tharp, 5-10, Soph. (12.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 1.8 apg); G-F Daina Stagaitene, 5-10, Soph. (6.3 ppg, 3.9 apg, 1.6 spg).
Data: Few programs have dominated their conferences like the Lady Flames, who beat High Point, 84-71, for their seventh consecutive Big South tournament championship. Liberty, which has not lost a conference game in more than two years, also boasts 22 straight wins overall, the second-longest active streak in Division I. The Lady Flames performed well against two of its state's higher-profile teams, beating Virginia, 77-69, on Nov. 26 and losing by three to Virginia Tech less than a month later. Feenstra was the Big South player of the year and its tournament most valuable player.
Record: 22-4 (14-0).
Coach: Kathy Delaney-Smith.
Top Players: F Hana Peljto, 6-2, Jr. (21.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 48.6 FG%), C Reka Cserny, 6-3, Soph. (14.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 84.4 FT%), G Tricia Tubridy, 6-0, Jr. (8.0 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 3.2 apg).
Data: The Crimson went 14-0 in the Ivy League to record its first undefeated season since 1996-97. Harvard comes into the tournament on a roll, having won a school-record 16 consecutive games. Peljto, who led the Ivy League in scoring, has 12 double-doubles this season. Three of the Crimson's four losses were to top 25 teams. Harvard remains the only No. 16 seed to knock off a No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Crimson upset No. 1 Stanford, 71-67, in 1998.
Record: 18-12 (8-6).
Coach: Keith Freeman.
Top Players: F Jeanette Gray, 5-10, Sr. (11.3 ppg, 7.3 ppg, 1.7 spg); G Katie Boone, 5-7, Soph. (8.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4 apg); F Meredith Baugher, 6-0, Soph. (8.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.9 spg).
Data: Not an offensive powerhouse to begin with, averaging 64.3 points per game while shooting 39.4 percent for the season, the Crusaders' postseason hopes looked grim without leading scorer Suzie Hammel (11.5 ppg), who missed their last six games. But Valpo relied on suffocating defense in its conference tournament -- its three opponents averaged just 49 points -- to clinch its first NCAA berth.
16 Boston University
America East champion
Record: 16-14 (10-6).
Coach: Margaret McKeon.
Top Players: G Katie Terhune, 5-11, Jr. (17.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 53-124 3-pt. FG%); G Katie Meinhardt, 5-9, Fr. (11.2 ppg, 2.5 rpg); F Adrienne Norris, 6-1, Soph. (8.2 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg).
Data: The Terriers secured their first NCAA berth with an upset over Maine, the top seed in the America East tournament with a 16-0 record in the conference during the regular season and a 22-game winning streak overall. Boston University relies a great deal on its depth, with 10 players averaging at least 10.9 minutes per game, and pressure defense, which has forced an average of 22 turnovers per game. McKeon is a former George Washington assistant coach.