The USF women's basketball team, seeking its fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance, is No. 23 in the Associated Press preseason poll released Thursday.
The Bulls, who open the season a week from Friday at home against LSU, return four starters and seven of their top eight scorers from last season's 24-9 team.
It's essentially five starters counting 5-foot-11 senior Laura Ferreira, was limited to nine games last season due to a plantar fascia injury but averaged 9.6 points and 4.4 rebounds as a sophomore.
"I think this team started to have expectations after our last game against Missouri (a 66-64 loss on a buzzer beater) in the NCAA Tournament, and deservedly so," veteran coach Jose Fernandez said.
"There should be expectations when you return four starters and Laura Ferreira's healthy. We signed a really good recruiting class, there should be expectations. That's where our program's at."
Eleven-time national champion Connecticut, stunned by Mississippi state in the national semifinals last season, is the AP's preseason No. 1 team, three spots ahead of reigning national champ South Carolina. FSU, which fell to South Carolina in last season's Elite Eight, is No. 18