Team to watch
There has been no better team in the nation than three-time defending champion Connecticut when it comes to tournament time and this year should be no different.
Led by star G Breanna Stewart, Geno Auerimma's top-seeded Huskies (32-0) open at home in Storrs against No. 16 Robert Morris on Saturday.
The 6-foot-4 Stewart, who has a chance to conclude her collegiate career with four rings, has averaged a team-high 19.2 points and 8.3 rebounds. She's also been a force defensively, blocking 107 shots. Senior PG Moriah Jefferson, the American Athletic Conference defensive player of the year, leads UConn in assists (167) and steals (83).
UConn's biggest test could come from American rival USF, a sixth seed which was the first team in almost a year to lead the Huskies at halftime in an eventual 79-59 defeat on Feb. 29.
Still, it's hard to see any team slowing the Huskies from capturing a record 11th national title.
Missouri might have surprised some in making the Big Dance for the first time since 2006 after three straight WNIT appearances. But the 10th-seeded Tigers (21-9) might have gotten their most favorable matchup in No. 6 BYU, which is coming off an upset defeat to San Francisco in the West Coast Conference tournament final.
Missouri will need all it can get from junior F Jordan Frericks, who leads the team in rebounding (7.9) and free-throw percentage (67.8).
Hawaii (21-10) is back in the tournament for the first time since 1998 as a No. 14 seed, opening against UCLA.
Colorado State (31-1), an 11th seed, returns for the first time since 2002 and plays USF on Saturday.
Jeff Odom, Times correspondent