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Amna Subhan | | March 1, 2023

5 possible women's basketball teams that could be March Madness first-timers

Clutch shots in the NCAA women’s tournament, since 1994

March is upon us. Selection Sunday is less than two weeks away, and while we have an idea about what the top 16 may look like, the conference tournaments will fill out a large piece of the field with automatic qualifiers. 

These five DI women's basketball teams could clinch their first ticket to the Big Dance in program history. 

RELATED: We're tracking every conference tournament and auto bid

Southeastern Lousiana — Southland 

The Southeastern Lousiana women’s basketball glory days can be traced back before the first NCAA women’s tournament in 1982 when Good Morning America host Robin Roberts suited up in the green and yellow before taking the anchor desk. 

But the Lions have been on the rise. In her sixth season as head coach, Ayla Guzzardo has taken the program to back-to-back winning seasons (the first time since 1994-1996), with this season making it three straight. 

Southeastern Louisiana looks to clinch its first Southland regular season title against Houston Christian Wednesday. With a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, the Lions would already qualify for the semifinals with a chance to punch their ticket on March 9 in the championship game.

Southern Utah— WAC 

The Thunderbirds clinched the WAC regular season championship Tuesday. In just their first season in the conference, the move from the Big Sky proved fruitful for the women’s basketball program. 

Southern Utah is in the midst of its fourth consecutive winning season under coach Tracy Sanders. At 19-9 with one regular season game left, this season could surpass its best 23-10 record set in 2014. The Thunderbirds lost in the Big Sky tournament semifinal that year. 

The WAC conference tournament begins March 6. With a first-round bye, the Thunderbirds would start in the quarterfinals with the semifinals and championship following March 10 and 11. 

Wofford — Southern

Wofford women’s basketball broke not just program history but school history. The Terriers claimed their first conference championship — the first for any women’s sport at Wofford. 

The Terriers have trended upward each year since Jimmy Garrity took the coaching helm in 2016. The title-winning game marked Wofford’s first 20-win season since moving up to Division I. 

The Southern tournament bracket is set with No. 1 Wofford facing No. 8 Western Carolina in the quarterfinals on March 2; the championship takes place on March 5. 

Fairleigh Dickinson — NEC

Last season, Fairleigh Dickinson had its best women’s basketball season in over three decades. But the Knights couldn’t finish it out and clinch their first-ever NCAA tournament bid in Peter Cinella’s final season after 17 years. 

Angelika Szumilo, not missing a beat, might be in her first season as head coach, but picked up right where Cinella left off as the Knights celebrated their second-straight regular season conference championship on Saturday. The Knights also notched their first 20-win season in 32 years. 

They'll have another crack at making March Madness when the Northeast Conference tournament commences on March 6 with the quarterfinals, and the champion crowned on March 12. 

Columbia — Ivy 

Currently, Columbia sits in a deadlock in the Ivy League with Princeton — a team that won the conference last season. 

In the three meetings last year — including the conference championship — the Tigers mauled the Lions by at least 18 points. This season has been a different story for Columbia. The Lions split the season series with Princeton with both teams winning the road. Columbia won in 58-55 overtime in the first game but fell 74-56 at home to the Tigers in the second. 

Both teams have one final game to decide the regular season championship. Princeton will face Pennsylvania (17-9, 9-4 Ivy) while Columbia takes on Cornell (10-16, 3-10 Ivy). While the Lions have the advantage there, Princeton will have its own if these two meet again in the Ivy conference tournament in Princeton, NJ. 


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