With nearly 83 percent of its offense returning from the 35-4 team that won an eighth national championship, the NCAA might be challenged to spawn an opponent strong enough to take UConn down.
And what makes that list more compelling is that UConn will play all but Notre Dame, now ensconced in the ACC, in the regular season.
The Irish, who lost to UConn in the national semifinal last season – their third straight Final Four appearance - also lost record-setting All-America guard Skylar Diggins.
But Notre Dame returns a staunch lineup that features two potential All-Americans, guard Kayla McBride and center Natalie Achonwa.
“Some of our team goals with this new team, which is full of more underclassmen than upperclassmen, are definitely the same,” McBride said on Irish media day.
“Even though our team may look a little different, we have the same philosophy, the same coaches and the same expectations. That's an ACC championship and that's a national championship. Being a senior, I've fallen short of that three times, being in the Final Four, and I want nothing more than a national championship.”
The Golden Bears, who won a record 32 games last year before losing to Louisville in the national semifinals, will be without guard Layshia Clarendon, who led the team in scoring and was a first-round pick in the WNBA draft.
But they are primed with returning starters Brittany Boyd (junior) and seniors Gennifer Brandon and Afure Jemerigbe.
Louisville, in its first and final season in the American Athletic Conference, seems able to make a third run to the national championship game under Jeff Walz since 2008.
With senior guards Shoni Schimmel and Antonia Slaughter and junior Sara Hammond, the Cardinals upset No. 1 Baylor in the Sweet 16, then defeated Tennessee and California before losing the national championship game to UConn in New Orleans
“It seems like we didn't really have an offseason around here,” Schimmel said. “We've just been working on our game, getting ready for the season because we all remember how special last year was.”
Stanford has senior Chiney Ogwumike, the player regarded as the likely first pick in the 2014 WNBA draft. The Cardinal will be without senior guard Toni Kokenis, who took a medical retirement because of concussions that ultimately kept her out of the last 14 games.
“We all know that this is the right decision for Toni's long-term well-being,” said Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer.
Stanford, which adds top-flight freshmen Erica McCall and Karlie Samuelson, will also be without sophomore forward Aly Beebe who had a third torn ACL during a summer workout and will miss the season.
Duke welcomes the return of senior guard Chelsea Gray from a season-ending knee injury team as well as junior center Elizabeth Williams and sophomore guard Alexis Jones, the ACC tournament MVP last season.
And Maryland is always a tough, physical team. Last year it played without starting point guard Brene Moseley [ACL] all season and then lost guard Laurin Mincy and center Essence Townsend early in the year, also to ACL tears.
The team will rely heavily on senior Alyssa Thomas, the two-time reigning ACC player of the year and a likely top five pick in this year's WNBA draft.