As a sophomore last season, UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson was...

As a sophomore last season, UConn's Katie Lou Samuelson was co-player of the year in the American Conference. Credit: AP / Robert Franklin

1. Connecticut: UConn will be a serious national title contender with All-Americans Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier and Gabby Williams, and starting guard Kia Nurse back. Duke transfer Azura Stevens, a versatile 6-6 matchup nightmare, is finally eligible.

2. Mississippi State: A run to the national title game last season makes the Bulldogs a Final Four contender this season. Morgan William, the hero of last season’s Final Four win over Connecticut, Victoria Vivians and 6-7 center Teaira McCowan are back.

3. South Carolina: The defending national champion lost Alaina Coates, Allisha Gray and Kaela Davis to the WNBA. But All-American forward Aja Wilson, who was the most outstanding player of last season’s Final Four, and guards Bianca Cuevas-Moore and Tyasha Harris are back.

4. Texas: The Longhorns return their top three scorers, including the backcourt of Brooke McCarty and Ariel Atkins. Joyner Holmes, a 6-3 guard/forward, showed signs of becoming a star by averaging 12.1 points and 8.2 rebounds as a freshman.

5. Baylor: The Lady Bears will miss Alexis Jones, Alexis Prince and Nina Davis. Kalani Brown, a 6-7 center, and starting guard Kristy Wallace return. Expect sophomores Natalie Chou, a guard, and Lauren Cox, a forward, to play bigger roles this season.

6. Ohio State: All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell decided to return to Columbus rather than enter the WNBA draft, instantly putting the Buckeyes among the Final Four contenders. Ohio State will need a healthy season from Stephanie Mavunga to reach its potential.

7. UCLA: The Bruins return guard Jordin Canada, who averaged 17.8 points last season, and 6-4 forward Monique Billings, who averaged 16.7 points and 10.5 rebounds. UCLA adds talented freshmen Michaela Onyenwere and Chantel Horvat.

8. Notre Dame: The Irish got a huge boost when Nebraska transfer Jessica Shepard was declared eligible for this season by the NCAA, helping to ease the loss of Brianna Turner. Guards Marina Mabrey, Arike Ogunbowale, Jackie Young and Stanford graduate transfer Lili Thompson should be strong.

9. Louisville: Louisville returns its top two scorers, including guard Asia Durr, who averaged 19.2 points as a sophomore. The Cardinals were a young team in 2016-17, with six freshman, including guard Sydney Zambrotta of North Babylon, who played in 29 games.

10. Oregon: The Ducks made a surprising run to the Elite Eight last season, losing to Connecticut. The sophomore duo of Sabrina Ionescu, who had an amazing four triple-doubles and was the consensus national freshman of the year last season, and Ruthy Hebard are back.


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