Lady Tigers -- not Vols -- start at No. 1

Updated: November 9, 2004, 3:29 AM ET
By Charlie Creme | Special to ESPN.com

It's barely November and the games haven't started. But it's not too early for a peek at what March might look like. So here it is, a first look at the 64 teams predicted to battle for a trip to Indianapolis.

CREME'S CROP
1. LSU Final Four trip might just be the beginning for Augustus, T.J. & Co.
2. Texas Jackson, Schreiber and Carey are probably the best trio in the country.
3. Tennessee Probably a healthy Candace Parker away from being the runaway No. 1.
4. Connecticut Taurasi's in Phoenix, but UConn still has enough to get to Indianapolis.
5. Georgia Andy Landers has depth to burn; Lady Dogs are good enough to more than challenge Tennessee, LSU.
6. Stanford As good as Powell was, the Cardinal have a chance to be even better.
7. Michigan State With five starters back in a Big Ten that lost a bunch, Spartans might be ready to move to the top.
8. Baylor Should have made Elite Eight last year. Could easily happen for real in 2005.
9. Duke Graduation of Beard and suspension of Harding mean Duke isn't the sure thing we're used to.
10. Notre Dame Batteast gets the pub, but LaVere's return to the form she displayed as a freshman might be the key.
11. North Carolina Wouldn't be a surprise if Tar Heels supplant Duke as ACC's best.
12. Kansas State No Ohlde, but still the same great team game and 3-point shooting.
13. Ohio State Buckeyes will continue to reflect relentless nature of Foster in what could be a power shift atop the Big Ten.
14. Texas Tech Lady Raiders have to shake off terrible finish to last season.
15. Minnesota McCarville has the most talked about hand(s) in Minneapolis this side of Randy Moss.
16. Vanderbilt Commodores are ready, but a weak nonconference schedule means they won't have to be until SEC play.
17. Purdue Slightly easier early-season schedule will help Boilermakers survive the transition to four new starters.
18. Boston College Almost everyone is back to defend conference tournament title in the Big East swan song.
19. DePaul Top three scorers from the nation's top performing offense are back.
20. Rutgers Will Pondexter be back for midseason three-game stretch vs. Tennessee, Texas and LSU?
21. Penn State Mazzante's gone. Does that mean more balance or more confusion in crunch time?
22. Arizona Just making the NCAA Tournament isn't good enough anymore.
23. Maryland Perhaps the "up-and-coming" program in the nation.
24. Oklahoma Sooners looking for something significant from freshman McGhee.
25. Louisiana Tech Will likely add to its mere two L's in three WAC seasons, but not by much despite losing bulk of offense.
26. UCLA Guards Quinn and Blue should lead Bruins back to the Big Dance.
27. Old Dominion Last time ODU didn't win the CAA, George W. Bush was merely the president's son.
28. Utah Reigning MWC Player of Year Smith might be the X-factor in a competitive league race.
29. Florida Peck has established the Gators as a winning program, but replacing Hayden won't be easy.
30. Villanova Replacing the leadership of last year's senior class is Perretta's biggest early task.
31. TCU Loss of three starters puts an even bigger burden on 6-3 senior post Irvin.
32. Chattanooga NCAA seed has gotten higher each of last three tournaments -- and the Mocs won a first-rounder last year.
33. Miami New conference doesn't change Hurricanes' tournament chances.
34. Houston Taurasi? Whalen? Powell? Chandi Jones might be most missed superstar from last season.
35. Southwest Missouri State League POY Koch is back for Lady Bears, who opened eyes by taking Notre Dame to OT last year.
36. Auburn A winning SEC mark virtually guarantees an NCAA berth; Tigers should be able to do it again.
37. Temple Staley hoping for third NCAA appearance in five seasons as Owls' head coach.
38. Virginia Tech New league, new coach, same success.
39. Mississippi State White returns for senior year run to a team that was a No. 3 seed just two seasons ago.
40. Marquette The schedule is better. The Golden Eagles might be, too.
41. UNLV Soft schedule could be a big problem again come March.
42. UC Santa Barbara Mann should lead the Gauchos to a 10th straight Big West title.
43. Arizona State Rebuilding is over; Sun Devils are loaded with experience and should return to the NCAAs.
44. Virginia Embarrassment of missing the tournament for the first time in 21 seasons helps Cavs reach field of 64.
45. Oregon Ducks looked like a tournament team last year before Kraayeveld went down; she's back for another run.
46. Richmond Spiders hope appearance in WNIT semifinals propels them to bigger things this March.
47. New Mexico The Lobos have Texas, Missouri and Arizona State coming to Albuquerque.
48. Middle Tennessee State Must hold off South Alabama in the Sun Belt.
49. Montana Tyler headlines the return of three starters for last season's Big Sky champ.
50. UW-Green Bay Five starters return as team chases seventh consecutive regular-season title.
51. Gonzaga The Bulldogs have all five starters back from an 18-win, WNIT squad.
52. Tennessee Tech Christian, who averages 20 points per game, leads the way.
53. Eastern Michigan Last season marked EMU's first MAC title; Eagles did it by holding nine foes to fewer than 50 points.
54. Maine Still the America East favorite, even without two-time player of the year Ernest.
55. Liberty Feenstra, a 6-8 center, wraps up her dominant career this season.
56. Valparaiso Crusaders looking for third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.
57. Loyola Greyhounds look to make leap from fifth to first in MAAC.
58. Georgia State In a battle with Lipscomb, Central Florida and Belmont for Atlantic Sun's bid.
59. St. Francis (Pa.) With eight trips to the NCAAs in nine years, few teams dominate their league like the Red Flash.
60. Holy Cross Crusaders go for their 11th regular-season Patriot League title.
61. Dartmouth Harvard and Penn won't make this easy in a hotly contested Ivy League.
62. Delaware State MEAC's top scorer Clark leads the Lady Hornets.
63. Northwestern State Still the Southland favorite despite losing coach (Smith) and the conference POY (Dobin).
64. Southern Jaguars have to hold off Alabama State for second straight trip to the Big Dance.

Charlie Creme | email

Women's College Basketball
Charlie Creme projects the women's NCAA Tournament bracket for ESPN.com.

ALSO SEE