NCAA March Madness brings together the best women's college basketball teams in the country, all vying for the national championship and the right to showcase their talents on the big stage. For aspiring basketball stars, attending one of the top schools for women's basketball dramatically improves the odds of making it to the WNBA. Additionally, other students who attend these schools get the pleasure of watching and cheering for a top team.
This page looks at the best women's college basketball teams nationwide, highlighting what makes them great. To determine this ranking, we considered many factors, including NCAA championships, Final Four appearances, team wins, winning percentage, and success at the WNBA draft — specifically in the first round. While team history plays a large role, recent success weighs more heavily in the ranking.
Top Women's College Basketball Teams
University of Connecticut
The University of Connecticut has boasted one of the best women's college basketball teams over the last two decades. Though the team won its first national title in 1995, its championship in 2000 kicked off a remarkable 10 titles in 16 seasons. Between 2014 and 2017, the team won 111 consecutive games. The UConn Huskies have also churned out 25 first-round WNBA picks — 10 more than the next-best team.
University of Tennessee - Knoxville
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville stakes its claim as one of the best women's college basketball teams by posting more wins than any other school and an .801 winning percentage. The Volunteers have won eight NCAA championships, including back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008. UT Knoxville players have gone on to be selected in the first round of the WNBA draft 15 times, which only ranks behind UConn.
Its three national titles, including championships in 2005, 2012, and 2019, put Baylor University squarely in the ranking of the best women's college basketball teams. In addition to 10 conference championships, the school boasts a .661 winning percentage and has reached the Final Four four times. At the WNBA draft, eight Bears have gone on to be selected in the first round — seventh-most among all colleges.
|Stanford , California||
In addition to winning NCAA championships in 1990 and 1992, Stanford University boasts the fifth-most wins in collegiate basketball, along with a .766 winning percentage. Ranked among the top three women's college basketball teams going into the 2020-21 season, Stanford looks to return to the Final Four for the 14th time in team history — the third most of all time. The school has produced 12 first-round picks in the WNBA draft, which also ranks third-best overall.
University of Notre Dame
|Notre Dame , Indiana||
Boasting one of the best women's college basketball teams, the University of Notre Dame has a .750 winning percentage and almost 1,000 wins. The school also holds two national titles. From 2011-2019, the school appeared in all but two Final Fours, bringing its overall total to nine appearances. Ten Fighting Irish players have been selected in the first round of the WNBA draft.
University of Maryland, College Park
|College Park, Maryland||
In 2006, the University of Maryland, College Park won a thrilling game in overtime to capture its first NCAA title in team history. UMD would return to the Final Four two more times, in 2014 and 2015, bringing its total national semifinal appearances to five. The Terrapins also rank among the best women's college basketball teams due to the program's more than 1,000 wins, .701 winning percentage, and development of eight first-round picks.
University of South Carolina
|Columbia, South Carolina||
Winning the NCAA championship in 2017, the University of South Carolina has secured a spot as one of the best women's college basketball teams in the country. Though March Madness was canceled in 2020, the school was set to enter the tournament as the top seed. UofSC has also produced seven first-round picks in the WNBA draft, ranking in the top 10 among all women's college basketball teams.
|Durham, North Carolina||
Despite never winning an NCAA title, Duke University makes the ranking of the best women's college basketball teams because of the program's consistency through the years. Since 1999, Duke has made the Final Four four times. The Blue Devils made the finals in 1999 and 2006 (which they lost in overtime). This college basketball powerhouse has produced 11 first-round picks, which ranks fourth on the all-time list.
Mississippi State University
A relative newcomer to the ranks of the best women's college basketball teams, Mississippi State University has made recent noise on the national stage, making back-to-back NCAA finals in 2017 and 2018 (losing both games). MSU looks to return to the Final Four for the third time in team history in 2020-21, ranking fifth in the nation heading into the season. At the WNBA draft, five Bulldogs have been selected in the first round, including the third pick in 2019.
University of Louisville
The University of Louisville earns a spot among the best women's college basketball teams on the basis of three trips to the NCAA Final Four in 2009, 2013, and 2018. The Cardinals finished sixth in the national rankings in the shortened 2019-20 season, maintaining that rank heading into the 2020-21 season. UofL has also performed well at the WNBA draft, watching four players get chosen in the first round, including the first overall selection in 2009.
Louisiana Tech University
Despite not making the Final Four since 1999, Louisiana Tech University has a history that cannot be denied. Louisiana Tech won the first-ever NCAA title in women's college basketball in 1982 (and another in 1988), appeared in the finals six times, and reached the Final Four 10 times. Additionally, the team sits third among the best women's college basketball teams in wins, with over 1,100 total victories and a .769 winning percentage.
Louisiana State University and A&M College
|Baton Rouge, Louisiana||
Louisiana State University's women's college basketball team has never won the NCAA championship, but it has made the Final Four on five occasions, which is tied for the sixth-most Final Four appearances of all time. All five of those appearances came between 2004-2008, representing one of the most dominant runs in NCAA basketball history. LSU has also developed seven first-round WNBA picks.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
|Chapel Hill, North Carolina||
The 1994 championship winner, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill boasts one of the best women's college basketball teams due to its nearly 1,000 wins and a .680 winning percentage. The Tar Heels also made the Final Four in back-to-back years in 2006 and 2007. At the WNBA draft, UNC-Chapel Hill players have been selected in the first round nine times, which is the sixth-most of all time.
University of Oregon
After losing a heartbreaking game in the 2019 Final Four, the University of Oregon made another claim as one of the best women's college basketball teams in 2020, securing the second seed in the country before the NCAA tournament was canceled. Entering the 2020-21 season, the Ducks rank ninth and look to build on the 2019-20 season, which saw three UO players selected in the first eight picks of the WNBA draft.
University of Oklahoma
Rounding out the list of the best women's college basketball teams, the University of Oklahoma has made three trips to the Final Four, including a loss in the 2002 final and back-to-back national semifinal losses in 2009 and 2010. The team also captured the Big 12 conference championship eight times, including seven times between 2000 and 2009. On the WNBA draft floor, OU has developed five first-round picks.
How Many NCAA Women's College Basketball Teams Are There?
The NCAA features more than 350 women's college basketball teams in Division I, which is the division that plays for the national championship during March Madness. Across all three divisions, there are nearly 1,100 school teams and over 100 conferences, including 32 conferences in Division I.
For entry into the NCAA national tournament, 32 of the 64 teams receive a spot by winning their conference tournament. The remaining 32 teams receive spots via at-large bids — bids that members of the NCAA selection committee vote on based on a team's performance throughout the season. The NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament was first played after the 1981-82 regular season.
Do College Basketball Players Get Paid?
Traditionally, women's college basketball players in the NCAA do not receive pay for their play on the court. This ensures that all colleges enjoy an equal opportunity during the player recruitment process. Schools can and do provide scholarship funding and financial support for educational purposes.
The NCAA Board of Governors did, however, support a new ruling that would allow NCAA student-athletes to receive financial benefits from external sources under certain conditions. For example, they can profit off of their name and likeness, but they still cannot receive money directly schools.
What Percentage of Women's College Basketball Players Go to the WNBA?
While some women's college basketball players do go on to play professional basketball in the WNBA, the odds of that happening actually sit lower than any of the other major sports leagues, including the NBA, MLB, NHL, and NFL.
According to numbers reported by the NCAA, more than 16,500 women play NCAA basketball each year, but only approximately 3,600 are draft eligible. Additionally, during the WNBA draft, only about 31 women get selected from that NCAA pool. That means roughly 0.8% of eligible players get drafted.