NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament

The NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament is a single-elimination tournament played each spring in the United States, currently featuring 68 women's college basketball teams from the Division I level of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), to determine the national championship.

NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament
Current season, competition or edition:
2023 NCAA Division I women's basketball tournament
SportBasketball
Founded1982 (1982)
Inaugural season1982
Organising bodyNCAA
No. of teams68
Most recent
champion(s)
South Carolina
(2nd. title)
(2022)
Most titlesUConn (11)
TV partner(s)ABC, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPNEWS, WatchESPN
Level on pyramid1
Official websitencaa.com/basketball
Championships

The tournament was preceded by the AIAW women's basketball tournament, which was organized by the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) from 1972 to 1982. Basketball was one of 12 women's sports added to the NCAA championship program for the 1981–82 school year, as the NCAA engaged in battle with the AIAW for sole governance of women's collegiate sports. The AIAW continued to conduct its established championship program in the same 12 (and other) sports; however, after a year of dual women's championships, the NCAA prevailed, while the AIAW disbanded.

As of 2022, the tournament follows the same format and selection process as its men's counterpart, with 32 automatic bids awarded to the champions of the Division I conferences, and 36 "at-large bids" extended by the NCAA Selection Committee, which are placed into four regional divisions and seeded from 1 to 16. The four lowest-seeded automatic bids, and the four lowest-seeded at-large bids, compete in the First Four games to advance to the 64-team bracket in the first round. The national semi-finals, branded as the Women's Final Four, are traditionally scheduled on the same weekend as the men's Final Four, but in a different host city. Presently, the Women's Final Four uses a Friday/Sunday scheduling, with its games occurring one day prior to the men's Final Four and championship respectively.[1]

Attendance and interest in the women's championship have grown over the years, especially from 2003 to 2016, when the final championship game was moved to the Tuesday following the Monday men's championship game.[1] The tournament is often overshadowed by the more-prominent men's tournament; after a gender equality review following the 2021 tournament, the NCAA began to promote the women's tournament with the "March Madness" brand as with the men's tournament, and expanded it to the current 68-team format of the men's tournament. Still, the tournament receives a smaller amount of funding from broadcast rights (which are held by ESPN, and are pooled with those of other NCAA Division I championships besides golf and men's basketball) and sponsorship (which are sold by CBS and Turner Sports) than the men's tournament.

With 11 national titles, the UConn Huskies hold the record for the most NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championships, which included four straight championships from 2013 through 2016.[2] The team has also made the semi-finals for 14 consecutive tournaments.

Tournament format

From 1982 to 1990, 1996 to 2002, 2017 to 2019 and since 2021, the Women's Final Four is usually played on the Friday before the Men's Final Four or the hours before the men played on the final Saturday of the tournament. The final, come 2023, will be played the Sunday afternoon following the Men's Final Four; from 2017 to 2019, 2021 and 2022, Sunday evening.

The tournament bracket is made up of champions from each Division I conference, which receive automatic bids. The remaining slots are at-large bids, with teams chosen by an NCAA selection committee. The selection process and tournament seedings are based on several factors, including team rankings, win–loss records, and NET data.

Since 2022, 68 teams qualify for the tournament played in March and April. Of these teams, 32 earn automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournaments. Since 2017 the Ivy League conducts its own post-season tournament. The remaining teams are granted "at-large" bids, which are extended by the NCAA Selection Committee. Dr. Marilyn McNeil, vice president/director of athletics at Monmouth University is the current chairwoman. On March 1, 2011, Bowling Green State University's director of intercollegiate athletics, Greg Christopher, was appointed chair of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Committee during the 2011–12 academic year.[3]

The tournament begins with four opening-round games known as the First Four. Like the men's version, the women's First Four involves the four lowest-ranked conference champions playing for 16 seeds in the round of 64, and the four lowest-ranked at-large teams playing for their own spots in the round of 64.[4]

The tournament is split into four regional tournaments, and each regional has teams seeded from 1 to 16, with the committee ostensibly making every region as comparable to the others as possible. The top-seeded team in each region plays the #16 team, the #2 team plays the #15, etc. (meaning that all first-round games involve teams whose seeds add up to 17).

Number of teams, and seeding

The first NCAA women's basketball tournament was held in 1982. The AIAW also held a basketball tournament in 1982, but most of the top teams, including defending AIAW champion Louisiana Tech, decided to participate in the NCAA tournament.

The championship consisted of 32 teams from 1982 to 1985 (in 1983, 36), 40 teams from 1986 to 1988, and 48 teams from 1989 to 1993. From 1994 to 2021, 64 teams competed in each tournament. From 2022, the tournament will involve 68 teams, matching the size of the D-I men's tournament.

Prior to 1996, seeding was conducted on a regional basis. The top teams (eight in the 32-, 40-, and 48-team formats, and 16 in the 64-team format) were ranked and seeded on a national basis. The remaining teams were then seeded based on their geographic region. Teams were moved outside of its geographic region only if it was necessary to balance the bracket, or if the proximity of an opponent outside of its region would be comparable and a more competitive game would result. In 1993, all teams except for the top four were explicitly unseeded. The regional seeding resumed in 1994. In 1996, seeds were assigned on a national basis using an "S-Curve" format similar to the process used in selecting the field for the men's tournament.

The following table summarizes some of the key attributes of the seeding process:[5]

  Number of teams selected    
Year Automatic At-Large Total Location of first round(s) Seeding Basis
1982 12 20 32 Higher seed Regional
1983 14 22 36 Higher seed[seed 1]
1984 17 15 32
1985 18 14 Higher seed
1986 17 23 40 Higher seed[seed 1]
1987 18 22
1988
1989 19 29 48
1990 21 27
1991
1992 22 26
1993 23 25
1994 32 32 64
1995
1996 31 33 Higher seed National
1997 30 34 Higher seed[seed 1]
1998 Higher seed
1999
2000 Higher seed[seed 1]
2001 31 33
2002 Higher seed
2003 16 Sites[seed 2]
2004
2005 8 Sites[seed 2]
2006
2007
2008
2009 16 Sites[seed 2]
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014 32 32
2015 Higher seed[seed 1]
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021 31[seed 3] 33
2022 32 36 68
  1. Some exceptions. Due to venue availability, in some cases, the lower seed hosted, or the game was played at a neutral site.
  2. From 2003 to 2014, sixteen predetermined sites were selected for first and second-round games. Teams were allowed to play at home, if hosting.
    Between 2005 and 2008, eight sites were used for first-round games.
  3. Ivy League cancelled all winter athletics due to COVID-19

Selection process

A special selection committee appointed by the NCAA determines which 68 teams will enter the tournament, and where they will be seeded and placed in the bracket. Because of the automatic bids, only 36 teams (the at-large bids) rely on the selection committee to secure them a spot in the tournament.

Women's NCAA Division I basketball champions

Year Winner Score Opponent Venue Other Semifinalists
1982 Louisiana Tech
(1, 1–0)
76–62 Cheyney State
(1, 0–1)
Norfolk Scope (Norfolk, Virginia) Tennessee & Maryland
1983 USC
(1, 1–0)
69–67 Louisiana Tech
(2, 1–1)
Old Dominion & Georgia
1984 USC
(2, 2–0)
72–61 Tennessee
(1, 0–1)
Pauley Pavilion (Los Angeles, California) Cheyney State & Louisiana Tech
1985 Old Dominion
(1, 1–0)
70–65 Georgia
(1, 0–1)
Frank Erwin Center (Austin, Texas) Western Kentucky & Northeast Louisiana[lower-alpha 1]
1986 Texas
(1, 1–0)
97–81 USC
(3, 2–1)
Rupp Arena (Lexington, Kentucky) Western Kentucky & Tennessee
1987 Tennessee
(2, 1–1)
67–44 Louisiana Tech
(3, 1–2)
Frank Erwin Center (Austin, Texas) Texas & Long Beach State
1988 Louisiana Tech
(4, 2–2)
56–54 Auburn
(1, 0–1)
Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, Washington) Long Beach State & Tennessee
1989 Tennessee
(3, 2–1)
76–60 Auburn
(2, 0–2)
Louisiana Tech & Maryland
1990 Stanford
(1, 1–0)
88–81 Auburn
(3, 0–3)
Thompson–Boling Arena (Knoxville, Tennessee) Virginia & Louisiana Tech
1991 Tennessee
(4, 3–1)
70–67 (OT) Virginia
(1, 0–1)
Lakefront Arena (New Orleans, Louisiana) Connecticut[lower-alpha 2] & Stanford
1992 Stanford
(2, 2–0)
78–62 Western Kentucky
(1, 0–1)
Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (Los Angeles, California) Southwest Missouri State[lower-alpha 3] & Virginia
1993 Texas Tech
(1, 1–0)
84–82 Ohio State
(1, 0–1)
Omni Coliseum (Atlanta, Georgia) Iowa & Vanderbilt
1994 North Carolina
(1, 1–0)
60–59 Louisiana Tech
(5, 2–3)
Richmond Coliseum (Richmond, Virginia) Purdue & Alabama
1995 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(1, 1–0)
70–64 Tennessee
(5, 3–2)
Target Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Stanford & Georgia
1996 Tennessee
(6, 4–2)
83–65 Georgia
(2, 0–2)
Charlotte Coliseum (Charlotte, North Carolina) Connecticut[lower-alpha 2] & Stanford
1997 Tennessee
(7, 5–2)
68–59 Old Dominion
(2, 1–1)
Riverfront Coliseum (Cincinnati, Ohio) Notre Dame & Stanford
1998 Tennessee
(8, 6–2)
93–75 Louisiana Tech
(6, 2–4)
Kemper Arena (Kansas City, Missouri) Arkansas & NC State
1999 Purdue
(1, 1–0)
62–45 Duke
(1, 0–1)
San Jose Arena (San Jose, California) Louisiana Tech & Georgia
2000 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(2, 2–0)
71–52 Tennessee
(9, 6–3)
First Union Center (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Rutgers & Penn State
2001 Notre Dame
(1, 1–0)
68–66 Purdue
(2, 1–1)
Savvis Center (St. Louis, Missouri) Connecticut[lower-alpha 2] & Southwest Missouri State[lower-alpha 3]
2002 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(3, 3–0)
82–70 Oklahoma
(1, 0–1)
Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas) Tennessee & Duke
2003 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(4, 4–0)
73–68 Tennessee
(10, 6–4)
Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Georgia) Texas & Duke
2004 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(5, 5–0)
70–61 Tennessee
(11, 6–5)
New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, Louisiana) Minnesota & LSU
2005 Baylor
(1, 1–0)
84–62 Michigan State
(1, 0–1)
RCA Dome (Indianapolis, Indiana) LSU & Tennessee
2006 Maryland
(1, 1–0)
78–75 (OT) Duke
(2, 0–2)
TD Banknorth Garden (Boston, Massachusetts) North Carolina & LSU
2007 Tennessee
(12, 7–5)
59–46 Rutgers
(1, 0–1)
Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, Ohio)
2008 Tennessee
(13, 8–5)
64–48 Stanford
(3, 2–1)
St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa, Florida) LSU & Connecticut
2009 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(6, 6–0)
76–54 Louisville
(1, 0–1)
Scottrade Center (St. Louis, Missouri) Stanford & Oklahoma
2010 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(7, 7–0)
53–47 Stanford
(4, 2–2)
Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas) Baylor & Oklahoma
2011 Texas A&M
(1, 1–0)
76–70 Notre Dame
(2, 1–1)
Conseco Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Indiana) Connecticut & Stanford
2012 Baylor
(2, 2–0)
80–61 Notre Dame
(3, 1–2)
Pepsi Center (Denver, Colorado) Stanford & Connecticut
2013 Connecticut[lower-alpha 2]
(8, 8–0)
93–60 Louisville
(2, 0–2)
New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, Louisiana) Notre Dame & California
2014 UConn
(9, 9–0)
79–58 Notre Dame
(4, 1–3)
Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, Tennessee) Stanford & Maryland
2015 UConn
(10, 10–0)
63–53 Notre Dame
(5, 1–4)
Amalie Arena (Tampa, Florida) South Carolina & Maryland
2016 UConn
(11, 11–0)
82–51 Syracuse
(1, 0–1)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Indiana) Oregon State & Washington
2017 South Carolina
(1, 1–0)
67–55 Mississippi State
(1, 0–1)
American Airlines Center (Dallas, Texas) UConn & Stanford
2018 Notre Dame
(6, 2–4)
61–58 Mississippi State
(2, 0–2)
Nationwide Arena (Columbus, Ohio) UConn & Louisville
2019 Baylor
(3, 3–0)
82–81 Notre Dame
(7, 2–5)
Amalie Arena (Tampa, Florida) UConn & Oregon
2020 Tournament canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak
2021 Stanford
(5, 3–2)
54–53 Arizona
(1, 0–1)
Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas) UConn & South Carolina
2022 South Carolina
(2, 2–0)
64–49 UConn
(12, 11–1)
Target Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota) Stanford & Louisville
2023 American Airlines Center (Dallas, Texas)
2024 Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse (Cleveland, Ohio)
2025 Amalie Arena (Tampa, Florida)
2026 Footprint Center (Phoenix, Arizona)
2027 Nationwide Arena (Columbus, Ohio)
2028 Gainbridge Fieldhouse (Indianapolis, Indiana)
2029 Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)
2030 Moda Center (Portland, Oregon)
2031 American Airlines Center (Dallas, Texas)
  1. Known as Louisiana–Monroe since 1999–2000; alternately branded athletically as ULM.
  2. Branded athletically as "UConn" since the 2013–14 season.
  3. Known as Missouri State since 2005–06.

Team titles

UConn
Tennessee
Baylor
Stanford
Louisiana Tech
USC
Notre
Dame
Maryland
North
Carolina
Old Dominion
Purdue
South
Carolina
Texas
Texas
A&M
Texas
Tech
Schools that have won the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship
11, 8, 3, 2, 1
Team # Years
UConn 11 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016
Tennessee 8 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008
Baylor 3 2005, 2012, 2019
Stanford 1990, 1992, 2021
Louisiana Tech 2 1982, 1988
Notre Dame 2001, 2018
South Carolina 2017, 2022
USC 1983, 1984
Maryland 1 2006
North Carolina 1994
Old Dominion 1985
Purdue 1999
Texas 1986
Texas A&M 2011
Texas Tech 1993

Multiple NCAA championship coaches

Coach School Championships
Geno Auriemma UConn 11
Pat Summitt Tennessee 8
Kim Mulkey Baylor 3
Tara VanDerveer Stanford
Muffet McGraw Notre Dame 2
Linda Sharp Southern California
Dawn Staley South Carolina

NCAA Championship by Conference

Note: Conferences are listed by all champions' affiliations at that time; these do not necessarily match current affiliations.

Conference Year Championships
Southeastern 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008, 2017, 2022 10
Big East[a 1] 1995, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009, 2010, 2013 9
Pac-12[a 2] 1983, 1984, 1990, 1992, 2021 5
Big 12 2005, 2011, 2012, 2019 4
American Athletic 2014, 2015, 2016 3
Atlantic Coast 1994, 2006, 2018
Southwest 1986, 1993 2
Western Collegiate 1983, 1984
American South 1988 1
Big Ten 1999
Independent 1982
Sun Belt 1985
  1. The Big East Conference operated in its original form from 1979 until 2013. During that time, UConn won eight championships, and Notre Dame won one. Following the three-way 2013 split of that conference and subsequent settlement between the non-FBS schools and the remaining schools, the conference legally changed its name to the American Athletic Conference. Three schools (among them Notre Dame) left for the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013, with a fourth doing the same in 2014; one school left for the Big Ten in 2014; and the non-FBS schools retained the Big East name. However, the current Big East now maintains the history of the original conference in all sports that it sponsors, including women's basketball. The American no longer claims any of the original Big East's competitive history, though legally it does even in the two sports that it sponsors and the current Big East does not (football and women's rowing).
  2. Known as the Pacific-10 Conference, or Pac-10, when its first 4 titles were won.

NCAA Final Four locations

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85
86
87
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90
91
92
93
94
95
96
97
98
99
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03
04
05
06
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09
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12
13
14
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16
17
18
19
20
21
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23
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25
26
NCAA Final Four locations (hover over city to see arena)
  • 1982 – Norfolk, Virginia
  • 1983 – Norfolk, Virginia
  • 1984 – Los Angeles, California
  • 1985 – Austin, Texas
  • 1986 – Lexington, Kentucky
  • 1987 – Austin, Texas
  • 1988 – Tacoma, Washington
  • 1989 – Tacoma, Washington
  • 1990 – Knoxville, Tennessee
  • 1991 – New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 1992 – Los Angeles, California
  • 1993 – Atlanta, Georgia
  • 1994 – Richmond, Virginia
  • 1995 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 1996 – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • 1997 – Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 1998 – Kansas City, Missouri
  • 1999 – San Jose, California
  • 2000 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • 2001 – St. Louis, Missouri
  • 2002 – San Antonio, Texas
  • 2003 – Atlanta, Georgia
  • 2004 – New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 2005 – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 2006 – Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2007 – Cleveland, Ohio
  • 2008 – Tampa, Florida
  • 2009 – St. Louis, Missouri
  • 2010 – San Antonio, Texas
  • 2011 – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 2012 – Denver, Colorado
  • 2013 – New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 2014 – Nashville, Tennessee
  • 2015 – Tampa, Florida
  • 2016 – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 2017 – Dallas, Texas
  • 2018 – Columbus, Ohio
  • 2019 – Tampa, Florida
  • 2020 – New Orleans, Louisiana
  • 2021 – San Antonio, Texas
  • 2022 – Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • 2023 – Dallas, Texas
  • 2024 – Cleveland, Ohio
  • 2025 – Tampa, Florida
  • 2026 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • 2027 – Columbus, Ohio
  • 2028 – Indianapolis, Indiana
  • 2029 – San Antonio, Texas
  • 2030 – Portland, Oregon
  • 2031 – Dallas, Texas

Result by school and by year

283 teams have appeared in the NCAA tournament in at least one year starting with 1982 (the initial year that the post-season tournament was under the auspices of the NCAA). The results for all years are shown in this table below.[6]

  •  ƒ  First Four (First played in 2022.)
  •    Round of 64 (Fewer than 64 teams invited before 1994.)
  •  32  Round of 32
  •  16  Sweet Sixteen
  •  E8  Elite Eight
  •  F4  Final Four
  •  RU  National Runner-up
  •  CH  National Champion

For each season, the 4 teams seeded No. 1 are shown with double underline, and 12 teams seeded between No. 2 and No. 4 are shown with dotted underline.

# 16 F4 CH School 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 22
33292211UConn32 F432E8CHF4E8E816CHF4CHCHCH16E8E8F4CHCHF4F4CHCHCHCHF4F4 F4F4RU
4035188Tennessee F4E8RU16 F4CHF4CHE8CH16E816RUCHCHCHE8RU16 F4RURUF4E8CHCH16E8E8E816E8E832323216
3528153Stanford3216E8CH F4CH16E8 F4F4F432321632E8E8E832RU F4RUF4F416 F416E8 F416E8 CHF4
201543Baylor3216CH 16323216 F4E8CH16E8E8E8E816CHE832
2720102Louisiana TechCHRUF4E8E8RUCHF4F4E8RU16E816RUF4E8E81616
271892Notre Dame32F4163216CH32161632321616RURUF4RURU16E8CHRU16
181242South Carolina163216E832163216F416CHE816F4CH
161032USCE8CHCH16RU161632E816E8323232
291551Maryland F4163232E8F432E8323232CH32E8E832E816 F4F4321632321616
291831North Carolina32163216323216CH1616E816161632E8F4F4E8321632E81616
341731TexasE8E816CHF4E8E8E8323232323216 F41632323216E81616E8E8
261231Purdue32163216F4E832E8CH32RU32E8163216E832E83232323232
251231Old Dominion16 F4E8CH16323232323216RU161616E816
201111Texas Tech323216CH16E816323216E81616E83216
17911Texas A&M1632E81632CH1632E83232161616
35205-Georgia32 F4E8RU1616163232E832 F4RUE8 F4E83216E8161616321616E8323232
27145-LSU16E83216321616E83232E8 F4F4F4 F4 F4323232161632
24174-Duke32323232E8RU1616F4F4E8E8RU161632E8E8E8E832163216
24114-Louisville32323232323216RU1632RUE8163216F4E8E8F4
25123-Virginia32323216E816 F4RUF4E816E8E81632163232323232
22103-Oklahoma16321616RU32161632F4 F416321632323232
21103-Auburn32161616E8RURURUE81632E8323232323232
2063-Western Kentucky F4 F4323216RU1632163232
26112-RutgersE8E81632323216E8 F43232E816RUE8163232
1292-Long Beach State16E8E8E816F4 F4E83216
1752-Missouri State32F416323232F41616
1152-Mississippi State32323232163216RURUE8
332-Cheyney[lower-alpha 1]RU16F4
27151-NC State1632161632161616161632 F432161632161616E8
27141-Vanderbilt32321616E8F41616E81632E8E832161632321616323232
25131-Penn State16E8321616323232321632E8321632F41616E832163216
26121-Ohio State3232E816E8161632RU32323216321632163216163216
2881-Iowa32E8E816323232 F432163232323232323216E81632
1971-Washington3232321632E816323216E832F416
1161-Alabama163232F4161616163232
1251-Oregon State1632323232 F416E81632
1741-Oregon32323232323232E8E8 F416
1831-Michigan State32323232RU163216323232323232
1331-ArkansasE81632F43232323232
1031-Minnesota323216F4163232
1421-California32321632 F432323232
921-Arizona3216323232RU32
321-Louisiana–Monroe3216 F4
1211-Syracuse32323232RU323232
1810--Ole Miss321616E8E81616E816E832E8
177--Arizona State1616321632E832E8321632323216
177--UCLA32161632E8323232321616E81632
206--Iowa State32E81616323232E81632323216
176--KentuckyE8323232E832E8E8163216323232
146--Colorado3232E816E8321632E816
205--Stephen F. Austin3232321616321616163232
205--Florida State3232323232163232E8323232E816E83232ƒ
254--DePaul32323232321616321632163232ƒ
184--George Washington3232321632E832323232321616
164--Clemson32321616E8323232323216323232
144--Kansas32323216321632161632
134--Gonzaga3216E816163232
124--James Madison161616321632
173--Kansas StateE8163216323232323232323232
163--Oklahoma State321632163232163232
93--San Diego State1616323216
83--Indiana163232E816
73--Boston College323216163216
182--Utah3232163232E83232
162--Florida3232E8163232323232
152--BYU3232163216323232
152--Nebraska32323232161632
132--DrakeE832323216
132--Missouri163232323216323232
112--Georgia Tech3232321616
102--Michigan323232323216E8
102--Xavier32E8E832
82--Illinois32323216163232
42--Georgetown16321632
42--Pittsburgh32161632
211--Montana16323232323232
181--Green Bay3232321632
171--Liberty16
151--Miami (FL)1632323232323232
141--UC Santa Barbara323232323216
131--West Virginia3216323232323232323232
121--Villanova32323232E8323232
111--Bowling Green3216
111--Virginia Tech3232163232323232
111--Marist16323232
101--St. John's3232323232321632
101--South Dakota State323216
91--UNLV323232163232
91--Dayton3232E8
81--Southern Miss32321632
81--Creighton3232323232E8
81--New Mexico1632
71--Memphis16323232
61--Central Michigan323216
61--Colorado State32321632
51--Providence1632
51--Delaware3216
51--Quinnipiac1632
41--Southern Illinois321632
41--Seton Hall1632
41--San Francisco16
41--South Dakota16
41--Buffalo1632
21--LamarE8
21--UAB16
21--St. Bonaventure1632
19---Middle Tennessee32323232323232
15---Chattanooga32
13---Saint Joseph's323232323232323232
13---Marquette323232323232
12---Holy Cross3232
12---Saint Francis (PA)
11---Temple3232323232
11---Tulane323232
10---Tennessee Tech3232323232
9---Maine32
9---Hampton
9---TCU3232323232
9---Princeton3232
8---Northwestern323232323232
8---Toledo323232
8---South Florida32323232
8---Florida Gulf Coast323232
7---Saint Peter's32
7---Dartmouth
7---Hawaii32
7---Wisconsin3232
7---SMU323232
7---UCF32
7---Austin Peay
7---Belmont3232
7---Fresno State
7---Albany32
6---Jackson State32
6---Howard32
6---Illinois State323232
6---New Mexico State32
6---Santa Clara32
6---Vermont32
6---Florida International323232
6---Grambling
6---Boise State
6---Harvard32
6---Oral Roberts
6---Hartford3232
6---Robert Morris
6---Prairie View A&M
6---Little Rock3232
5---Kent State3232
5---Northwestern State
5---Houston3232
5---Fairfield
5---Northern Illinois3232
5---North Carolina A&T
5---Penn
5---Southern
4---La Salle32
4---Idaho32
4---Manhattan
4---Cincinnati32
4---Appalachian State
4---Portland
4---Radford
4---Mount St. Mary'sƒ
4---Lehigh
4---Troy
4---Cal State Northridge
4---Pepperdine
4---Idaho State
4---Bucknell
4---UT Martin
4---Mercer
3---Ohio
3---Richmond
3---Washington State
3---San Diego
3---Montana State
3---Tennessee State
3---Fordham
3---Youngstown State32
3---Massachusetts
3---Rice32
3---Alcorn State
3---Georgia State
3---Charlotte
3---Alabama State
3---Coppin State
3---Texas–Arlington
3---Stetson
3---UC Riverside
3---Sacred Heart
3---Army
3---UNC Asheville
3---East Tennessee State
3---Navy
3---UC Davis
3---Wichita State
3---Wright State32
3---American
2---East Carolina32
2---Western Michigan32
2---Wake Forest32
2---Cal State Fullerton32
2---Georgia Southern
2---Loyola (MD)
2---Florida A&M
2---Furman
2---Western Illinois
2---Texas State
2---Eastern Kentucky
2---Saint Mary's32
2---Evansville
2---Milwaukee
2---Weber State
2---Oakland
2---Valparaiso
2---Eastern Michigan
2---Western Carolina
2---Tulsa32
2---SE Missouri State
2---UTEP32
2---UTSA
2---Cleveland State
2---Wyoming
2---Drexel
2---VCU
2---Northern Iowa
2---Portland State
2---McNeese State
2---Samford
2---Central Arkansas
2---Elon
1---Monmouth32
1---South Carolina State32
1---North Texas
1---New Orleans32
1---Eastern Washington
1---South Alabama
1---Eastern Illinois
1---Brown
1---UC Irvine
1---Butler
1---Rhode Island
1---Detroit Mercy
1---Marshall
1---UNC Greensboro
1---Northeastern
1---Campbell
1---Denver
1---LIU[lower-alpha 2]
1---Siena
1---Norfolk State
1---Boston University
1---Colgate
1---Lipscomb
1---Loyola Marymount
1---Canisius
1---Florida Atlantic
1---Northern Arizona
1---Delaware State
1---Louisiana
1---UMBC
1---Cornell
1---Miami (OH)
1---Murray State
1---Ball State32
1---Gardner–Webb
1---Cal Poly
1---Akron
1---North Dakota
1---Winthrop
1---Savannah State[lower-alpha 1]
1---St. Francis Brooklyn
1---Duquesne32
1---Iona
1---Jacksonville
1---Texas Southern
1---Nicholls
1---Northern Colorado
1---Seattle
1---Abilene Christian
1---Bethune–Cookman
1---Towson
1---Bradley
1---High Point
1---Stony Brook
1---Utah Valley
1---Longwood
1---IUPUI
1---Incarnate Wordƒ
Notes
  1. No longer a member of NCAA Division I (as of 2019–20).
  2. Following the 2019 merger of the LIU Brooklyn and LIU Post athletic programs into a single LIU program, the new program inherited the athletic history of LIU Brooklyn.

Top-ranked teams

Since the women's tournament began in 1982, 19 teams have entered the tournament ranked #1 in at least 1 poll and gone on to win the tournament:

  • 1982: Louisiana Tech
  • 1983: USC
  • 1986: Texas
  • 1989: Tennessee
  • 1995: UConn
  • 1998: Tennessee
  • 1999: Purdue
  • 2000: UConn
  • 2002: UConn
  • 2003: UConn
  • 2009: UConn
  • 2010: UConn
  • 2012: Baylor
  • 2014: UConn
  • 2015: UConn
  • 2016: UConn
  • 2019: Baylor
  • 2021: Stanford
  • 2022: South Carolina

Champions excluded the next year

Only once has the reigning champion (the previous year's winner) not made it to the tournament the next year.

No. 1 seeds

Since 1982, at least one #1 seed has made the Final Four every year.

Under coach Geno Auriemma, Connecticut has been seeded #1 a record 22 times. Tennessee is second with 21 #1 seeds.

All four #1 seeds have made it to the Final Four 4 times (champion in bold):

  • 1989 Auburn, Louisiana Tech, Maryland, Tennessee
  • 2012 Baylor, UConn, Notre Dame, Stanford
  • 2015 UConn, Maryland, Notre Dame, South Carolina
  • 2018 UConn, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Louisville

The championship game has matched two #1 seeds 14 times:

  • 1983 USC beat Louisiana Tech
  • 1986 Texas beat USC
  • 1989 Tennessee beat Auburn
  • 1991 Tennessee beat Virginia
  • 1995 UConn beat Tennessee
  • 2000 UConn beat Tennessee
  • 2002 UConn beat Oklahoma
  • 2003 UConn beat Tennessee
  • 2010 UConn beat Stanford
  • 2012 Baylor beat Notre Dame
  • 2014 UConn beat Notre Dame
  • 2015 UConn beat Notre Dame
  • 2018 Notre Dame beat Mississippi State
  • 2019 Baylor beat Notre Dame

Three teams have beaten three #1 seeds during the course of a tournament (the largest number of such teams that can be faced) (all three teams won the national championship as beating a 3rd #1 seed in a single tournament can only happen in the finals):

  • 1987 Tennessee (beat Auburn, Long Beach State, Louisiana Tech)
  • 1988 Louisiana Tech (beat Auburn, Tennessee, Texas)
  • 2005 Baylor (beat LSU, Michigan State, North Carolina)

Prior to the expansion of the tournament to 64 teams, all four #1 seeds advanced to the Sweet Sixteen with three exceptions. Notably, the first two times this occurred were at the hands of the same school:

  • 1986 East #1 seed Virginia lost to #8 seed James Madison
  • 1991 East #1 seed Penn State lost to #8 seed James Madison
  • 1992 Midwest #1 seed Iowa lost to #8 seed Southwest Missouri State

High seeds

  • 1999 was the first time in tournament history (since the expansion to 64 teams) that all top seeds (1, 2, 3, and 4 seeds) made it to the Sweet Sixteen.

Low seeds

Lowest seeds to reach each round since the expansion to 64 teams:

  • Second Round: #16 seed[7]
    • Harvard in 1998 (the only #16 seed to beat a #1 seed in either the women's or men's tournament until 2018, and still the only one to do so in the women's tournament)
  • Regional semifinals (Sweet Sixteen): #13 seed[7]
    • Texas A&M in 1994
    • Liberty in 2005
    • Marist in 2007
  • Regional Finals (Elite Eight): #11 seed
  • National semifinals (Final Four): #9 seed[7]
    • Arkansas in 1998
  • National Finals (Championship Game): #5 seed
  • National Champion: #3 seed[7]
    • North Carolina in 1994
    • Tennessee in 1997

Best Performances by #14 & #15 Seeds

Unlike in the men's tournament, no #14 seed has beaten a #3 and no #15 seed has beaten a #2 seed, but they have come close.

  • 2 points: #14 Seed
    • Austin Peay lost to UNC in 2003 (2 points, 72–70)
    • Eastern Michigan lost to Boston College in 2004 (2 points, 58–56)
    • Creighton lost to St. John's in 2012 (2 points, 69–67)
  • Overtime games: #15 Seed
    • UTSA lost to Baylor in 2009 (5 points, 87–82). UTSA is the only #15 seed to take a game into overtime.
  • 1 point: #15 Seed
    • Long Beach State lost to Oregon State in 2017 (1 point, 56–55)

First-round games

Since the expansion to 64 teams in 1994, each seed-pairing has played 108 first-round games with these results:

  1. The #1 seed is 107–1 against the #16 seed (.991).
  2. The #2 & #3 seeds are 108–0 against the #15 & #14 seeds, respectively (1.000).
  3. The #4 seed is 101–7 against the #13 seed (.935).
  4. The #5 seed is 85–23 against the #12 seed (.787).
  5. The #6 seed is 75–33 against the #11 seed (.694).
  6. The #7 seed is 71–37 against the #10 seed (.657).
  7. The #8 seed is 53–55 against the #9 seed (.491).

Second-round games

Since the expansion to 64 teams in 1994, the following results have occurred for each pairing:

  • In the 1/16/8/9 bracket:
vs. #8 vs. #9
#1 48–1 (.980) 52–2 (.963)
#16 0–1 (.000)

note: The 3 losses by the #1 seed vs #8/9 were: Duke (vs Michigan St, 2009), Ohio St (vs Boston College, 2006), Texas Tech (vs Notre Dame, 1998).
note: The #9 vs. #16 game was Arkansas over Harvard in 1998.

  • In the 2/15/7/10 bracket:
vs. #7 vs. #10
#2 49–13 (.790) 31–3 (.912)
#15
  • In the 3/14/6/11 bracket:
vs. #6 vs. #11
#3 45–22 (.672) 17–12 (.586)
#14
  • In the 4/13/5/12 bracket:
vs. #5 vs. #12
#4 42–27 (.609) 18–3 (.857)
#13 3–3 (.500)

Teams entering the tournament unbeaten

Of the 18 teams who have entered the tournament unbeaten, 9 went on to win the National Championship.[8]

One exception is Cal Baptist, who was excluded from the 2021 tournament as a transitional Division I member, despite a 24–0 record.

  • In 1986, Texas entered the tournament 30–0, beat USC for the national title, and ended the season 34–0.
  • In 1990, Louisiana Tech entered the tournament 29–0, but lost in the Final Four to Auburn.
  • In 1992, Vermont entered the tournament 29–0, but lost in the first round to George Washington.
  • In 1993, Vermont entered the tournament 28–0, but lost in the first round to Rutgers.
  • In 1995, UConn entered the tournament 29–0, beat Tennessee for the national title, and ended the season 35–0.
  • In 1997, UConn entered the tournament 30–0, but lost in the Midwest Regional Final to Tennessee.
  • In 1998, Tennessee (33–0) and Liberty (28–0) both entered the tournament unbeaten; Liberty lost in the first round to Tennessee, which went on to beat Louisiana Tech for the national title and ended the season 39–0.
  • In 2002, 2009, and 2010, UConn entered the tournament 33–0, won the national title in each, and ended those seasons 39–0. They respectively beat Oklahoma, Louisville, and Stanford in those championship games.
  • In 2012, Baylor entered the tournament 34–0, beat Notre Dame for the national title, and ended the season 40–0. The Lady Bears became the first team in NCAA college basketball history, for either women or men, to win 40 games in a season. Notably, Louisiana Tech went 40–5 during the 1979–80 season. This was during the AIAW era for women's basketball.
  • In 2014, UConn (34–0) and Notre Dame (32–0) both entered the tournament unbeaten; UConn beat Notre Dame 79–58 for the national title, ended the season 40–0 and is the 8th team to end the season unbeaten.
  • In 2015, Princeton entered the tournament 30–0, but lost in the second round to Maryland.
  • In 2016, UConn entered the tournament 32–0, beat Syracuse for the national title, ending the season 38–0.
  • In 2017, UConn entered the tournament 32–0, but lost in the Final Four to Mississippi State, ending their 111-game winning streak to finish 36–1.
  • In 2018, UConn entered the tournament 32–0, but lost in the Final Four to Notre Dame, ending their 36-game winning streak to finish 36–1.

Undefeated teams not in the tournament

The NCAA tournament has undergone dramatic expansion since its first edition in 1982, and only one unbeaten team has failed to qualify for the tournament—California Baptist in 2021, which was 24–0 after winning the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.[9] As, by definition, a team would have to win its conference tournament, and thus secure an automatic bid to the tournament, to be undefeated in a season, the only way a team could finish undefeated and not reach the tournament is if the team is banned from postseason play. (Other possibilities are that the team is independent, or is from a conference not yet eligible for an automatic bid.) Postseason bans can come about for one of two reasons:

  • The team is serving a postseason ban due to NCAA sanctions.
  • The team is transitioning from a lower NCAA division, during which time it is barred by NCAA rule from participation in NCAA-sponsored postseason play. This is the case for California Baptist, which began a transition from Division II in 2018 and thus cannot play in the NCAA tournament until 2023.

California Baptist was eligible for the WNIT because that tournament is not operated by the NCAA, unlike the men's version; the Lancers lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Rice.

Home state

Only one team has ever played the Final Four on its home court. Two other teams have played the Final Four in their home cities, and seven others have played the Final Four in their home states.

The only team to play on its home court was Texas in 1987, which lost its semifinal game at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center.

Old Dominion enjoyed nearly as large an advantage in 1983 when the Final Four was played at the Norfolk Scope in its home city of Norfolk, Virginia, but also lost its semifinal. The Scope has never been the Lady Monarchs' regular home court. ODU has always used on-campus arenas, first the ODU Fieldhouse and since 2002 Chartway Arena. The following year, USC won the national title at Pauley Pavilion, the home court of its Los Angeles arch-rival UCLA.

Of the other teams to play in their home states, Stanford (1992) won the national title; Notre Dame (2011) lost in the championship game; and Western Kentucky (1986), Penn State (2000), Missouri State (2001), LSU (2004), and Baylor (2010) lost in the semifinals.

Championship margins

  • Overtime games in a championship game:[10]
    • Tennessee 70, Virginia 67/OT (1991)
    • Maryland 78, Duke 75/OT (2006)
  • Smallest margin of victory in a championship game: 1 point[11]
    • North Carolina 60, Louisiana Tech 59 (1994)
    • Baylor 82, Notre Dame 81 (2019)
    • Stanford 54, Arizona 53 (2021)
  • Biggest margin of victory in a championship game: 33 points[11]
    • UConn 93, Louisville 60 (2013)
  • Margin of 10 points: Louisiana Tech (1982), Tennessee (1987 & 1989), Purdue (1999), UConn (2000, 2002, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015 & 2016), and Baylor (2012) are teams to win every game in the tournament by 10 points or more on their way to a championship. The 2016 UConn team won every game by more than 20 points.
  • Top 9 largest point differentials accumulated over the entire tournament by tournament champion. Notably, Louisiana Tech's differential is prior to the expansion of 64 teams and the addition of one more round of play.
    • 2016 UConn (+239)
    • 2010 UConn (+214)
    • 2013 UConn (+208)
    • 2015 UConn (+197)
    • 2000 UConn (+187)
    • 2002 UConn (+161)
    • 2019 Baylor (+159)
    • 1982 Louisiana Tech (+158)
    • 2014 UConn (+156)

Same-conference championship games

7 championship games have featured two teams from the same conference (winner listed first and bolded):

  • 1989 SEC, Tennessee and Auburn
  • 1996 SEC, Tennessee and Georgia
  • 2006 ACC, Maryland and Duke
  • 2009 Big East, UConn and Louisville
  • 2013 Big East, UConn and Louisville
  • 2017 SEC, South Carolina and Mississippi State
  • 2021 Pac-12, Stanford and Arizona

Television coverage and revenues

Broadcast rights to the NCAA women's basketball tournament are included in a larger package covering the majority of Division I national championships outside of men's basketball (which is held by CBS Sports and Turner Sports),[12] and golf (which is held by Golf Channel).[13] ESPN has held exclusive rights to the tournament since 1996; beginning with an 11-year, $200 million contract renewal in 2003, ESPN would televise all 63 games in the tournament on television (increasing from 23), with games in the first and second rounds airing regionally on ESPN and ESPN2. Out-of-market games were carried via pay-per-view.[14] Coverage later expanded to include ESPN's college sports-oriented network ESPNU, and ESPN360 for streaming.[15] In 2011, ESPN renewed this agreement through the 2023–24 season, in a deal reported to be worth $500 million in total (also adding international rights to the men's tournament for ESPN International).[16]

In the first two rounds, one channel (typically ESPN or ESPN2's high definition feed) typically aired "whiparound" coverage during each window, carrying rolling coverage of all games in progress. ESPN's standard definition channels were used to broadcast games on a regional basis, while games could also be viewed in their entirety on ESPN3 or alternate channels.[15] In 2021, ESPN adopted a broadcast arrangement similar to the men's tournament, with all games airing nationally in their entirety on either an ESPN linear channel or, for the first time, ABC. The Women's Final Four and championship remained exclusive to ESPN.[17] In 2023, the national championship game will air on ABC for the first time; due to conflicts with ABC's prime time entertainment programming, the game will be played in the afternoon.[18]

In data issued by the NCAA in 2021, it was stated that 15.9% of the value of the contract was allocated to the women's tournament, or approximately $6.1 million annually. In comparison, the contract for the men's tournament is valued at over $700 million annually. Amid scrutiny of inequality between the men's and women's tournaments that year, it has been suggested by critics that the structure of the NCAA's contract undervalues the media rights to the women's tournament.[19][20] Based on average viewership, Emily Caron and Eben Novy-Williams of Sportico estimated that the women's tournament could fetch at least $20 million per-year if its media rights were sold separately. America East Conference commissioner Amy Huchthausen argued that the ESPN contract "provides a measure of financial certainty, but it does not provide women's basketball (or any of the other sports, for that matter) an incentive to grow".[21] Following major media criticism of inequities between the 2021 men's and women's tournaments, the NCAA commissioned a comprehensive gender equity review of its championships by the law firm Kaplan Hecker & Fink. Among the report's findings was that U.S. television rights for the women's tournament would be worth at least $81 million annually by the time the current broadcast contract with ESPN expires in 2024. The current contract, which includes rights not only to the women's tournament but also 28 other NCAA championship events, provides the NCAA an average of $34 million over the life of the contract.[22][23]

See also

References

  1. "NCAA may move Women's Final Four dates". ESPN.com. Retrieved December 17, 2016.
  2. "DI Women's Basketball Championship History". NCAA.com. Retrieved August 30, 2022.
  3. "Greg Christopher named chair of DI Women's Basketball Committee". NCAA. March 1, 2011.
  4. "Expansion of 2022 DI women's basketball tournament to 68 teams approved" (Press release). NCAA. November 17, 2021. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  5. "2013 NCAA Women's Final Four Records" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved April 15, 2013.
  6. Nixon, Rick. "Official 2020 NCAA Women's Final Four Records Book" (PDF). NCAA. Retrieved March 10, 2020.
  7. Official 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four Record p 58
  8. Official 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four Record p 67
  9. Baer, Jack (March 14, 2021). "College basketball's only undefeated women's team isn't going to NCAA tournament". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved March 14, 2021.
  10. Official 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four Record p 6,7
  11. Official 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four Record p 9
  12. "ESPN Sports NCAA women's basketball tourney gets new TV contract". ESPN.com. Retrieved April 6, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. "NCAA agrees long-term Golf Channel extension". SportsPro. August 29, 2017. Retrieved May 14, 2022.
  14. Official 2012 NCAA Women's Final Four Record p 75
  15. "ESPN 'Tweets' Fans To Enhance NCAA Women's Tournament Coverage". Sports Video Group. March 25, 2009. Retrieved April 6, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  16. "ESPN acquires NCAA rights for US$500 million". SportsPro Media. April 2, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  17. "2021 NCAA National Collegiate Women's Gymnastics Championships to Make Broadcast Debut on ABC". ESPN Press Room U.S. March 16, 2021. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  18. "NCAA women's title game to air on ABC in 2023". Associated Press. August 23, 2022. Retrieved August 24, 2022 via ESPN.com.
  19. Higgins, Laine (March 19, 2021). "Women's March Madness Is Growing in Popularity—and Undervalued". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  20. Strauss, Ben; Hensley-Clancy, Molly. "Women's sports can do at least one thing men's can't, experts say: Get bigger". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  21. Novy-Williams, Emily Caron,Eben (April 4, 2021). "March Madness Daily: The NCAA's Undervalued Women's TV Rights". Sportico.com. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  22. "Long-awaited NCAA gender equity review recommends combined Final Four for men's, women's basketball at same site". ESPN.com. Associated Press. August 3, 2021. Retrieved August 7, 2021.
  23. "NCAA External Gender Equity Review — Phase I: Basketball Championships". Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP. August 2, 2021. Retrieved August 11, 2021.
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