64 teams we like heading into 2006-07

Updated: November 6, 2006, 8:14 PM ET
By Charlie Creme | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: Charlie Creme will project the 2006 NCAA Tournament bracket throughout the season, beginning Dec. 4.

Who will be in when Selection Monday rolls around in March? It's too early to tell. But come four months from now, here's what the NCAA Tournament field might look like:

CREME'S CROP
1. North Carolina Let's not forget the Tar Heels were the favorite heading into last season's NCAA Tournament and much of their key personnel is back.
2. Maryland The Terps can no longer use the "we don't get enough respect" mantra. Talent and effort take a back seat to no one, however.
3. Tennessee Depth might be a problem, but Candace Parker is the most gifted player in the country.
4. Stanford Candice Wiggins and Brooke Smith get the ink, but it's the youngsters who will make or break the Cardinal's Final Four hopes.
5. Oklahoma Courtney Paris leads a dominant frontcourt, but keep an eye on the health of the backcourt.
6. Connecticut The Huskies should return to a more dominant status in the Big East, especially if Tina Charles plays as well as publicized.
7. Ohio State Jessica Davenport is outstanding, but since her arrival in Columbus, the Buckeyes have done no better than a regional semifinal.
8. Duke Doesn't it feel like about 100 years since Duke didn't have Alana Beard or Monique Currie on the roster? That means Lindsay Harding has to score more.
9. Georgia Once Tasha Humphrey returns from her six-game suspension, the Lady Bulldogs should be the SEC's second-best team.
10. Purdue The Boilermakers have a new coach in Sharon Versyp, but the key is old star Katie Gearlds.
11. Rutgers Rutgers' hopes rest with the return of Matee Ajavon (surgery in September to repair a left tibial stress fracture). But when exactly she'll be back remains up in the air.
12. Texas A&M The Aggies are coming off 23 wins with all five starters back and have a big opportunity to make a huge leap in a slightly down Big 12.
13. Arizona State Highly regarded freshman guard Dymond Simon joins an already deep and versatile Sun Devils team fresh off a 25-win season.
14. LSU Seimone Augustus is gone and it's Sylvia Fowles' time so shine.
15. Kentucky Last year: upset of Tennessee, 22 victories, an NCAA Tournament win. This year: all five starters back … and high expectations in Lexington.
16. Michigan State Rene Haynes and Victoria Lucas-Perry will have to produce every night.
17. California A freshman-dominated Bears team snuck into the NCAAs a year ago. That's where the bar has been set for 2007.
18. Texas Youth and injuries kept the Longhorns out of March Madness last season. Tiffany Jackson shouldn't let that happen again.
19. DePaul Without Khara Smith it will be difficult to match last season's 27 wins and Sweet 16 appearance, but the Blue Demons are still an NCAA team.
20. Vanderbilt Inside-outside senior experience of Carla Thomas and Dee Davis keeps the Commodores in contention, but why can't the nonconference schedule get tougher?
21. New Mexico Dionne Marsh leads a Lobos club hoping to improve on last season's No. 11 seed.
22. Southern California Shay Murphy will again be the catalyst on a deep Women of Troy team.
23. George Washington If experienced guards win in March, then the Colonials are in good shape with Kimberly Beck, Kenan Cole and Sarah-Jo Lawrence.
24. Louisville Jazz Covington might be more important to her team than any player in the country.
25. NC State Legendary coach Kay Yow is just seven wins shy of 700.
26. Washington Cameo Hicks will have to raise her game just a bit more for the Huskies to reach the next level.
27. St. John's The Red Storm didn't waste their first NCAA appearance since 1988, beating Cal and taking eventual champion Maryland to the final minutes.
28. TCU Four starters back and LSU transfer Hanna Biernacka joins at midseason.
29. BYU One of 2006's biggest surprises, the Cougars are now a favorite in the Mountain West.
30. Baylor The Lady Bears will need a big impact from Florida transfer Bernice Mosby to help offset the graduation of All-American Sophia Young.
31. Florida The Gators are young but talented.
32. Bowling Green Only North Carolina and Oklahoma had more pre-NCAA Tournament wins than the Falcons, who return their entire starting lineup.
33. Temple What will life be like without Candice Dupree? Senior Kamesha Hairston hopes we don't notice.
34. Old Dominion Fifteen CAA championships in a row, but the league is getting more competitive.
35. Pittsburgh Last year, the Panthers established themselves as a program on the rise with a WNIT semifinal appearance. They should finish this season in the NCAA Tournament.
36. Rice The Owls should once again have to outdistance Tulsa in C-USA.
37. Florida State Much is expected of lone senior Alicia Gladden if the Seminoles are to make a third straight NCAA appearance.
38. UCLA No more "Triple Threat." This is now Noelle Quinn's team.
39. Kansas State That WNIT championship was nice, but with four starters back, that sort of finish would be a disappointment in 2007.
40. Marquette With four starters returning, including All-Big East pick Christina Quaye, March should mean more than a WNIT finals appearance.
41. Utah It's hard to imagine the Utes duplicating last season's Elite Eight bid without Kim Smith and Shona Thorburn. Utah will be in a fight all season to earn a tourney berth.
42. Nebraska Kiera Hardy might be a Big 12 Player of the Year favorite if someone named Courtney Paris didn't exist.
43. Hartford Stony Brook will present a signifcant challenge in the America East, but the Hawks should still get a chance to win another NCAA first-round game.
44. Louisiana Tech It's hard to pick against one of only two teams to reach every NCAA Tournament (25 straight appearances).
45. James Madison Four senior starters who got a taste of winning and the postseason (WNIT) make the Dukes a legitimate challenger to ODU in the CAA and for at-large consideration.
46. Tulsa Jillian Robbins averaged a double-double and was C-USA's top defensive player.
47. Middle Tennessee State Chrissy Givens is just the second player to win Sun Belt POY, Defensive POY and tournament MVP in the same season. And she's back for her senior season.
48. Wisconsin-
Green Bay
Five returning starters will try to win the Phoenix at least a share of a 10th straight Horizon regular-season title.
49. Chattanooga The Lady Mocs have won 34 of their last 35 Southern Conference games.
50. Drake Four starters return for a Bulldog team that finished second in the MVC last season. Added bonus: Drake hosts the league tournament in March.
51. Liberty Death, taxes … and Liberty winning the Big South. The Flames go for their 11th title in a row.
52. Northern Arizona The Lumberjacks look to make it two in a row in the Big Sky.
53. Iona The MAAC favorite won just six games two seasons ago.
54. UC Santa Barbara Jenna Green, plus two other starters, are going for a 12th straight Big West regular-season title.
55. Texas-
Arlington
The Mavericks are looking for their second NCAA trip in three years.
56. Oral Roberts Elisha Turek's Golden Eagles hope to end Western Illinois' four-year run as Mid-Con champ -- and finish the job with an NCAA berth.
57. Samford Alex Munday leads the Bulldogs, who look to build on last season's 21 wins.
58. Pepperdine The Waves hope the momentum of last season's late run carries over in the competitive WCC.
59. Holy Cross One point was all that separated the Crusaders from the NCAA Tournament a year ago; four starters return.
60. Dartmouth With a schedule that includes Duke, Michigan, Vanderbilt and Hartford, matching last season's school-record 23 wins won't be easy.
61. Sacred Heart Amanda Pape is back -- which should mean good things in Fairfield.
62. Belmont Alysha Clark, last season's Atlantic Sun POY as a freshman, leads the way following a disappointing finish in 2006.
63. Coppin State Unbeaten in MEAC play a year ago, the Eagles are big favorites again in 2007.
64. Jackson State The defending co-regular-season champion Lady Tigers look to make the next step.

Charlie Creme has been projecting the women's NCAA Tournament bracket for ESPN.com for four seasons. He can be reached at cwcreme@yahoo.com.

Charlie Creme | email

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

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