- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 16 teams left standing in the NCAA women’s tournament include many of the usual suspects and a few surprises too.

Brittney Griner and her undefeated Baylor Lady Bears slammed their way through the first two rounds. So did Geno Auriemma’s Connecticut Huskies, who advanced to the second weekend for the 19th straight year.

Pat Summitt’s Tennessee is still around, too. The Lady Vols seniors are desperately trying to make another Final Four run for their Hall of Fame coach, who announced in early August that she has early onset dementia. This Tennessee senior class is trying to avoid becoming the first not to make it to the Final Four during its time at the school.

Notre Dame and Stanford are hoping for a return trip to the Final Four. The Irish are looking to avenge their loss last year in the national championship game. Stanford is trying for a fifth-straight trip to the national semifinals.

There are a few surprises and fresh faces left. Eleventh-seeded Gonzaga and Kansas advanced, marking the first time two 11-seeds made it to the regional semifinals in the same season. St. Bonaventure, Georgia Tech and St. John’s all are making their first appearance in the Sweet 16.

The Red Storm needed a last-second shot in the opening round and then had to beat Oklahoma on its home court to advance, much to the joy of President Obama, who picked St. John’s to reach the Final Four in his women’s bracket.

“I’m excited to still be dancing,” St. John’s coach Kim Barnes Arica said.

Like their male counterparts, 14 of the 16 teams still playing come from the power conferences. Only the Zags and Bonnies are outside the BCS. It may not be a huge shock that Gonzaga is still playing, as the Zags made a run to the regional final last year

St. Bonaventure coach Jim Crowley is making the most of his first trip to the NCAAs. The fifth-seeded Bonnies had to survive the mid-major pod by knocking off Florida Gulf Coast in overtime and NCAA darling Marist in the second round.

“We’re the new kids to the party,” Crowley said. “That’s pretty cool.”

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