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Mitchell Northam | | March 18, 2019

Women’s basketball: Longest active NCAA tournament streaks

March is here to bring the madness in women's basketball

Since the women’s NCAA basketball tournament began in 1982, just one team has appeared in every edition of it: the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, one of the teams synonymous with excellence in women’s college basketball.

But several other schools have pieced together impressive streaks too, some lasting more than two decades.

Here are longest active appearance streaks in the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.

Tennessee (38)

This could've been the first year in the history of the tournament that Tennessee wasn’t a part of the tournament, but the Lady Vols were one of the last four in, earning a nod as a No. 11 seed.

Tennessee hired the late, great Pat Summitt as its head coach in 1974, and four years later they were in AIAW Final Four, the tournament that preceded the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. Summitt’s teams appeared in four AIAW Final Fours, and made the Final Four in the first year of the NCAA tournament in 1982 too. Summitt’s teams went to 18 Final Fours and won 16 SEC tournament titles.

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Holly Warlick succeeded Summitt as head coach in 2012 and has kept their NCAA tournament streak alive, as the Lady Vols have made it each season since she took over, a run that includes three Elite Eight appearances.

The Lady Vols have a 19-12 overall record and went 7-9 in conference play. The Lady Vols had an early exit from the SEC tournament and have lost four of the last six games they’ve played. Tennessee received zero votes in the latest AP and Coaches polls.

Despite that, they got in. The Lady Vols will face UCLA in College Park, Maryland in the first round.

Stanford (32) 

The Cardinal won the Pac-12 tournament title this season for the 13th time, which extended their NCAA tournament streak to 32.

Stanford appeared in the first ever NCAA tournament in 1982, but lost in the first round and were spectators for the next five season. In 1988, the streak began with a Sweet 16 trip under head coach Tara VanDerveer.

During their run, the Cardinal has won two national championships and appeared in 13 Final Fours. The Cardinal did not make it out of the first weekend just six times out of the past 30 seasons. Stanford has won at least one tournament game 19 years in a row, and if the Cardinal win their first game in this tournament, that will make it postseason win No. 80 for VanDerveer.


UConn (31)

Believe it or not, there was a time where UConn wasn’t in the NCAA tournament. Geno Auriemma was hired in 1985 and missed the Big Dance in each of his first three seasons. But the fourth year, in 1989, UConn won the Big East and got in.

The Huskies have appeared in the NCAA tournament ever since. They made their first Final Four in 1991 and captured their first national championship in 1995.

UConn has advanced to at least the Sweet 16 in every season dating back to 1994, and has appeared in every Final Four since 2008. That’s 11 straight Final Four trips, for y’all keeping score at home.

The Huskies won the American Athletic Conference crown this season — for the sixth straight time — so they’re be back in the tournament. With a No. 2 ranking in the AP and Coaches poll, it’d be weird to see UConn not in the Final Four again too, but the sport is very competitive this season and it’s possible we could see an early slip from the Huskies.

Notre Dame (24)

The Irish didn’t appear in their first NCAA tournament until 1992, Muffet McGraw’s fifth season on the job. They were in and out of the Big Dance over the next three seasons, but began their current streak in 1996, their first season in the Big East.

Since then, Notre Dame has won two national championships — including last year’s — and has appeared in eight Final Fours. The Irish have advanced to at least the Sweet 16 every season since 2010.

Notre Dame joined the ACC for the 2013-14 season and have won every regular season conference title since.

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DePaul (17)

With a 26-7 overall record, a No. 23 ranking in the latest Coaches Poll and a Big East tournament title, DePaul is back in the tournament for its 17th straight trip.

Doug Bruno returned to coach at DePaul in 1988 and took DePaul to the NCAA tournament seven times in his first nine seasons, which also featured two conference moves. After missing the tournament from 1998 to 2002, Bruno took DePaul back to the Big Dance in 2003, where its current streak began.

During this run, DePaul has been to the Sweet 16 three times.

Baylor (16)

Baylor is making its 16th trip to the NCAA tournament this season, and is doing so as a No. 1 seed in the Greensboro Region.

Prior to Kim Mulkey’s hiring in 2000, the Lady Bears had never been to the NCAA tournament. Since she’s been in Waco, they’ve been every year except 2003, where they finished as runner-ups in the WNIT.

During this run, the Bears have captured two national championships, and had a streak from 2014 through 2017 where they made the Elite Eight every year.

Mitchell Northam is a graduate of Salisbury University. His work has been featured at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Orlando Sentinel, SB Nation, FanSided, USA Today and the Delmarva Daily Times. He grew up on Maryland's Eastern Shore and is now based in Durham, N.C.

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