The NCAA DII Women's Basketball Tournament pits 64 teams in the hunt for the most sought-after hardware in DII women's basketball.
Let’s take a look at how the NCAA DII women’s basketball tournament works.
2023 RECAP: Ashland wins the 2023 national championship
What is the selection process for the DII women’s basketball tournament?
Like March Madness on the Division I level, there are 64 teams that enter the DII women’s basketball tournament. Twenty-three teams get into the bracket by winning their respective conference tournaments and getting an automatic bid. Those 23 conferences are split up into eight regions. It looks like this:
|Atlantic||CIAA, MEC, PSAC (Independent — 2)*|
|Central||GAC, MIAA, NSIC|
|East||CACC, ECC, NE10|
|Midwest||GLIAC, GLVC, G-MAC, (Independent — 1)*|
|South||GSC, SIAC, SSC (Independent — 3)*|
|South Central||LSC, RMAC|
|Southeast||CC, PBC, SAC|
|West||CCAA, GNAC, PacWest|
(* = Independents do not receive automatic bids)
Now, how about those other 41 teams? We get an early look at that decision process three weeks before the season ends. This is when the NCAA releases its first regional rankings. Those rankings, released every Wednesday of each of the final three weeks of the season, ranks the top 10 teams per region. The top 8 of those will be the ones who make the bracket.
Of course, this changes over the course of three weeks but helps both the committee and fans alike keep an eye on who has a chance to be in the field of 64 as early as February.
Once the conference tournaments are complete and the 23 automatic bids are resolved, the DII women’s basketball selection committee has some choices to make. What are they looking for?
It starts with the schedule, with each team required to have competed against at least 22 DII women's basketball programs, 18 of which need to be in-region. If the program meets those qualifications, the committee considers the following:
- DII in-region winning percentage
- Overall DII winning percentage
- Strength of schedule against DII programs
- Head-to-head wins and losses against DII programs
- Results against common DII opponents
- In-region RPI
- Performance indicator
- Record vs. ranked teams
Once the committee comes to its consensus 40 at-large teams, the 64-team bracket is announced in a Selection Show on NCAA.com the Sunday before the tournament begins.
What does the DII women’s basketball championship bracket look like?
The championship bracket is set up like the traditional 64-team bracket we have become accustomed to thanks to March Madness. There are four quadrants with two regions each. Then the real fun begins.
Eight single-elimination regional tournaments kick off the tournament, with each of the eight regional champions heading to one final site location for the final three rounds of play. The entire duration of these three rounds is referred to as the DII Women's Elite Eight.
The DII Women’s Elite Eight field took on a new look in 2017. The advancing teams were seeded Nos. 1 through 8. The No. 1 overall seed has won just once since the change, and that was the undefeated 2017 Ashland Eagles.
Important dates for the 2022 DII women’s basketball tournament
Here are the dates you need to know for the coming DII women’s basketball championship. The DII Women's Elite Eight heads to the Birmingham CrossPlex in Birmingham, Alabama for the final three rounds.
|EVENT||DATE||TIME||HOW TO VIEW|
|First regional rankings released||Wed., Feb. 19||TBD||On NCAA.com|
|Selection show||Sun., March 6||10:30 p.m. ET||On NCAA.com|
|Regional rounds (Rounds 1-3)||March 11, 12 and 14||TBD||TBD|
|Elite Eight||Tues., March 21||Begins noon ET||On NCAA.com|
|National semifinals||Wed. March 23||6 p.m., 8:30 p.m. ET||CBS Sports Network|
|Championship game||Fri., March 25||7 p.m. ET||CBS Sports Network|
When did the DII women’s basketball tournament begin?
The first DII women's basketball championship took place in 1982 in Springfield, Mass. Cal Poly Pomona defeated Tuskegee 93-74 to become the first national champions in the sport's history and two years later, those same Broncos became the first team to repeat as champions.
The tournament spent the first six years in Springfield, the longest consecutive tenure at any of its stopping points. The 2019 championship was played in Columbus, Ohio where Lubbock Christian defeated Southwestern Oklahoma State for its second title in four years. This is certainly noteworthy when you consider that Lubbock Christian has only been a DII program for four seasons.
DII women’s basketball history
Ashland has certainly had a bit of a monopoly on the DII women's basketball landscape since 2012. The Eagles have been in four of those national championship games, winning two of them. Cal Poly Pomona, the winners of that first-ever DII women's basketball national championship are still tied as the winners of the most titles in the sport's history with five. There is no denying that Lubbock Christian is the current DII dynasty with three trips to the Elite Eight in four years resulting in two titles.
You can see which programs have the most titles here and take a look at the complete history of the national championship game below.
|2023||Ashland (37-0)||Kari Pickens||78-67||Minnesota Duluth||Dallas, TX|
|2022||Glenville State (35-1)||Kim Stephens||85-72||Western Washington||Birmingham, AL|
|2021||Lubbock Christian(23-0)||Steve Gomez||69-59||Drury||Columbus, Ohio|
|2020||No tournament (COVID)|
|2019||Lubbock Christian (32-5)||Steve Gomez||95-85 (2OT)||Southwestern Oklahoma State||Columbus, Ohio|
|2018||Central Missouri (30-3)||Dave Slifer||66-52||Ashland||Sioux Falls, S.D.|
|2017||Ashland (37-0)||Robyn Fralick||93-77||Virginia Union||Columbus, Ohio|
|2016||Lubbock Christian (35-0)||Steve Gomez||78-73||Alaska-Anch.||Indianapolis|
|2015||California (Pa.) (32-4)||Jess Strom||86-69||Cal Baptist||Sioux Falls, S.D.|
|2014||Bentley (35-0)||Barbara Stevens||73-65||West Texas A&M||Erie, Pa.|
|2013||Ashland (38-1)||Sue Ramsey||71-56||Dowling||San Antonio|
|2012||Shaw (29-6)||Jacques Curtis||88-82||Ashland||San Antonio|
|2011||Clayton State (35-1)||Dennis Cox||69-50||Michigan Tech||St. Joseph, Mo.|
|2010||Emporia State (30-5)||Brandon Schneider||65-53||Fort Lewis||St. Joseph, Mo.|
|2009||Minnesota State-Mankato (32-2)||Pam Gohl||103-94||Franklin Pierce||San Antonio|
|2008||Northern Kentucky (28-8)||Nancy Winstel||63-58||South Dakota||Kearney, Neb.|
|2007||Southern Connecticut State (34-2)||Joe Frager||61-45||Florida Gulf Coast||Kearney, Neb.|
|2006||Grand Valley State (33-3)||Dawn Plitzuweit||58-52||American International||Hot Springs, Ark.|
|2005||Washburn (35-2)||Ron McHenry||70-53||Seattle Pacific||Hot Springs, Ark.|
|2004||California (PA) (35-1)||Darcie Vincent||75-72||Drury||St. Joseph, Mo.|
|2003||South Dakota State (32-3)||Aaron Johnston||65-50||Northern Kentucky||St. Joseph, Mo.|
|2002||Cal Poly Pomona (28-4)||Paul Thomas||74-62||Southeastern Oklahoma||Rochester, Minn.|
|2001||Cal Poly Pomona (27-3)||Paul Thomas||87-80 (ot)||North Dakota||Rochester, Minn.|
|2000||Northern Kentucky (32-2)||Nancy Winstel||71-62 (ot)||North Dakota State||Pine Bluff, Ark.|
|1999||North Dakota (31-1)||Gene Roebuck||80-63||Arkansas Tech||Pine Bluff, Ark.|
|1998||North Dakota (31-1)||Gene Roebuck||92-76||Emporia State||Pine Bluff, Ark.|
|1997||North Dakota (28-4)||Gene Roebuck||94-78||Southern Indiana||Grand Forks, N.D.|
|1996||North Dakota State (30-2)||Amy Ruley||104-78||Shippensburg||Fargo, N.D.|
|1995||North Dakota State (32-0)||Amy Ruley||98-85||Portland State||Fargo, N.D.|
|1994||North Dakota State (27-5)||Amy Ruley||89-56||Cal State San B'dino||Fargo, N.D.|
|1993||North Dakota State (30-2)||Amy Ruley||95-63||Delta State||Waltham, Mass.|
|1992||Delta State (30-4)||Lloyd Clark||65-63||North Dakota State||Fargo, N.D.|
|1991||North Dakota State (31-2)||Amy Ruley||81-74||Southeast Missouri State||Cape Giradeau, Mo.|
|1990||Delta State (32-1)||Lloyd Clark||77-43||Bentley||Pomona, Calif.|
|1989||Delta State (30-4)||Lloyd Clark||88-58||Cal Poly Pomona||Cleveland, Miss.|
|1988||Hampton (33-1)||James Sweat||65-48||West Texas A&M||Fargo, N.D.|
|1987||New Haven (29-2)||Jan Rossman||77-75||Cal Poly Pomona||Springfield, Mass.|
|1986||Cal Poly Pomona (30-3)||Darlene May||70-63||North Dakota State||Springfield, Mass.|
|1985||Cal Poly Pomona (26-7)||Darlene May||80-69||Central Missouri||Springfield, Mass.|
|1984||Central Missouri (27-5)||Jorja Hoehn||80-73||Virginia Union||Springfield, Mass.|
|1983||Virginia Union (27-2)||Louis Hearn||73-60||Cal Poly Pomona||Springfield, Mass.|
|1982||Cal Poly Pomona (29-7)||Darlene May||93-74||Tuskegee||Springfield, Mass.|