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NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Championship
Current season or competition:
2010 NCAA Women's Division I Basketball Tournament
Sport Basketball
Founded 1982
No. of teams 64
Country(ies) NCAA Division I ( United States)
Most recent champion(s) Connecticut
TV partner(s) ESPN (Championship game)
Official website

The NCAA Women's Division I Championship is an annual basketball tournament for women. Held each April, the Women's Championship was inaugurated in the 1981-82 season. The NCAA tournament was preceded by the AIAW Women's Basketball Tournament, which was held annually from 1972 to 1982.

Attendance and interest have grown over the years, especially since 2003, when the final championship game was moved to the Tuesday following the Monday men's championship game. The women's championship game is now the final overall game of the college basketball season.

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 Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) data.

Unlike the men's tournament, there are only 33 at-large bids, and no play-in game. The women's tournament, like the men's, is staged in a single elimination format, and is part of the media and public frenzy known colloquially as March Madness.

All 63 games have been broadcast on television since 2003 on ESPN and ESPN2. Similar to men's tournament coverage on CBS, local teams are shown on each channel when available, with "whip-around" coverage designed to showcase the most competitive contests in the rest of the country.


Tournament format

A total of 64 teams qualify for the tournament played in March and April. 30 of the 64 teams earn automatic bids by winning their respective conference tournaments. Since the Ivy League does not conduct a post-season tournament, the regular-season conference champion receives an automatic bid. The remaining teams are granted "at-large" bids, which are extended by the NCAA Selection Committee.

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[citation needed]. The top-seeded team in each region plays the #16 team, the #2 team plays the #15, etc.

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 1982-1985, 40 teams from 1986-1988, and 48 teams from 1989-1993. Since 1994 64 teams compete in each 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, the 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.

Selection process

A special selection committee appointed by the NCAA determines which 64 teams will enter the tournament, and where they will be seeded and placed in the bracket. Because of the automatic bids, only 33 teams (the at-large bids) rely on the selection committee to secure them a spot in the tournament.

Tournament Trends


Top-ranked Teams

Since the women's tournament began in 1982, 12 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
  • 1988: Tennessee
  • 1989: Tennessee
  • 1995: Connecticut
  • 1998: Tennessee
  • 1999: Purdue
  • 2000: Connecticut
  • 2002: Connecticut
  • 2003: Connecticut
  • 2009: Connecticut

#1 Seeds

Since 1982, only once have all #1 seeds made it to the Final Four:

  • 1989 Auburn, Louisiana Tech, Maryland, Tennessee

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

  • 1983 USC defeated Louisiana Tech
  • 1986 Texas defeated USC
  • 1989 Tennessee defeated Auburn
  • 1991 Tennessee defeated Virginia
  • 1995 Connecticut defeated Tennessee
  • 2000 Connecticut defeated Tennessee
  • 2002 Connecticut defeated Oklahoma
  • 2003 Connecticut defeated Tennessee

At least one #1 seed has made the Final Four every year.

3 teams have beaten three #1 seeds during the course of a tournament:

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

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
  • Regional Semifinals (Sweet Sixteen): #13 seeds
  • National Semifinals (Final Four): #9 seed

First-round Games

Since the expansion to 64 teams only one #16 seed has defeated a #1 seed:

  • Stanford lost to Harvard in 1998 (4 points, 71-67)

No #14 or #15 seeds have made it to the Second Round.

Since the expansion to 64 teams in 1994, each seed-pairing has played a total of 64 first round games.

  1. The #1 seed has beaten the #16 seed 63 times (98%).
  2. The #2 seed has beaten the #15 seed 64 times (100%).
  3. The #3 seed has beaten the #14 seed 64 times (100%).
  4. The #4 seed has beaten the #13 seed 59 times (92%).
  5. The #5 seed has beaten the #12 seed 52 times (81%).
  6. The #6 seed has beaten the #11 seed 46 times (72%).
  7. The #7 seed has beaten the #10 seed 42 times (66%).
  8. The #8 seed has beaten the #9 seed 29 times (45%).

Teams Entering the Tournament Undefeated

  • In 1986, Texas entered the tournament 30-0, won 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 29-0, but lost in the first round to Rutgers.
  • In 1995, Connecticut entered the tournament 29-0, won the national title, and ended the season 35-0.
  • In 1998, Tennessee (33-0) and Liberty (28-0) each entered the tournament undefeated. Liberty lost in the first round to Tennessee. Tennessee won the national title and ended the season 39-0.
  • In 2002, Connecticut entered the tournament 33-0, won the national title, and ended the season 39-0.
  • In 2009, Connecticut entered the tournament 33-0, won the national title, and ended the season 39-0.

Home state

Seven teams have played the Final Four in their home states. USC (1984) won the national title, while Old Dominion (1983), Western Kentucky (1986), Texas (1987), Penn St. (2000), Missouri St. (2001), and LSU (2004) lost in the Final Four. The biggest advantages came in 1983 when Old Dominion played their Final Four game at Norfolk Scope, their home before the Ted Constant Convocation Center was built; and in 1987 when Texas played their Final Four game at the Frank Erwin Special Events Center, their home.

Championship Margins

  • Smallest margin of victory in a championship game: 1 point
    • North Carolina 60, Louisiana Tech 59 (1994)
  • Biggest margin of victory in a championship game: 23 points
    • Tennessee 67, Louisiana Tech 44 (1987)

Same-conference Championship Games

4 championship games have featured two teams from the same conference:

  • 1989 SEC, Tennessee and Auburn
  • 1996 SEC, Tennessee and Georgia
  • 2006 ACC, Maryland and Duke
  • 2009 Big East, Connecticut and Louisville

Women's NCAA Division I basketball champions

Year Winner Score Opponent Venue
1982 Louisiana Tech 76-62 Cheyney State Norfolk Scope (Norfolk, Virginia)
1983 USC 69-67 Louisiana Tech Norfolk Scope (Norfolk, Virginia)
1984 USC 72-61 Tennessee Pauley Pavilion (Los Angeles, California)
1985 Old Dominion 70-65 Georgia Frank Erwin Center (Austin, Texas)
1986 Texas 97-81 USC Rupp Arena (Lexington, Kentucky)
1987 Tennessee 67-44 Louisiana Tech Frank Erwin Center (Austin, Texas)
1988 Louisiana Tech 56-54 Auburn Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, Washington)
1989 Tennessee 76-70 Auburn Tacoma Dome (Tacoma, Washington)
1990 Stanford 88-81 Auburn Thompson-Boling Arena (Knoxville, Tennessee)
1991 Tennessee 70-67 (OT) Virginia Lakefront Arena (New Orleans, Louisiana)
1992 Stanford 78-62 Western Kentucky Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (Los Angeles, California)
1993 Texas Tech 84-82 Ohio State Omni Coliseum (Atlanta, Georgia)
1994 North Carolina 60-59 Louisiana Tech Richmond Coliseum (Richmond, Virginia)
1995 Connecticut 70-64 Tennessee Target Center (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
1996 Tennessee 83-65 Georgia Charlotte Coliseum (Charlotte, North Carolina)
1997 Tennessee 68-59 Old Dominion Riverfront Coliseum (Cincinnati, Ohio)
1998 Tennessee 93-75 Louisiana Tech Kemper Arena (Kansas City, Missouri)
1999 Purdue 62-45 Duke HP Pavilion at San Jose (San Jose, California)
2000 Connecticut 71-52 Tennessee Wachovia Center (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
2001 Notre Dame 68-66 Purdue Scottrade Center (St. Louis, Missouri)
2002 Connecticut 82-70 Oklahoma Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)
2003 Connecticut 73-68 Tennessee Georgia Dome (Atlanta, Georgia)
2004 Connecticut 70-61 Tennessee New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, Louisiana)
2005 Baylor 84-62 Michigan State RCA Dome (Indianapolis, Indiana)
2006 Maryland 78-75 (OT) Duke TD Banknorth Garden (Boston, Massachusetts)
2007 Tennessee 59-46 Rutgers Quicken Loans Arena (Cleveland, Ohio)
2008 Tennessee 64-48 Stanford St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa, Florida)
2009 Connecticut 76-54 Louisville Scottrade Center (St. Louis, Missouri)
2010 Alamodome (San Antonio, Texas)
2011 Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana)
2012 Pepsi Center (Denver, Colorado)
2013 New Orleans Arena (New Orleans, Louisiana)
2014 Sommet Center (Nashville, Tennessee)
2015 St. Pete Times Forum (Tampa, Florida)
2016 Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, Indiana)

NCAA championships by school

Wins School Championships
8 Tennessee 1987, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2007, 2008
6 Connecticut 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2009
2 Louisiana Tech 1982, 1988
Southern California 1983, 1984
Stanford 1990, 1992
1 Old Dominion 1985
Texas 1986
Texas Tech 1993
North Carolina 1994
Purdue 1999
Notre Dame 2001
Baylor 2005
Maryland 2006

NCAA Final Fours by school

School Number
Tennessee 18
Louisiana Tech, Connecticut 10
Stanford 8
LSU, Georgia 5
Duke 4
North Carolina, Maryland, Purdue, Old Dominion, Virginia, USC, Texas, Auburn, Western Kentucky 3
Rutgers, Notre Dame, Cheyney St., Missouri St., Long Beach St., Oklahoma 2
Texas Tech, Baylor, Louisville, Ohio St., Iowa, Minnesota, Alabama, NC State, Arkansas,

Michigan St., Penn St.,Louisiana- Monroe, South Dakota State, Vanderbilt


Multiple NCAA championship coaches

Coach School Championships
Pat Summitt Tennessee 8
Geno Auriemma Connecticut 6
Tara VanDerveer Stanford 2

See also



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