2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Primer: Powerhouse Teams and Rising Stars

2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Primer: Powerhouse Teams and Rising Stars

It’s going to be a fun season.

The field of NCAA women’s basketball teams is absolutely loaded with massive talent and big personalities from the coaches to the star players, meaning this season should be filled with exciting games, electric performances and plenty of intriguing storylines to watch.

Last season’s NCAA Tournament was one for the ages with Iowa’s Caitlin Clark delivering extraordinary scoring performances, and LSU coach Kim Mulkey leading the Tigers to the title behind a core of star players.

Now, those key figures and plenty of others are back for an encore this season, which promises to be as entertaining as ever.

If you want to follow along on the road to March Madness, here’s a quick guide to get you tuned in and fired up for the season.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Teams to Watch


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The defending national champions opened as the preseason No. 1 team in the country, but they were upset by then No. 20 Colorado in their first game. Can Mulkey get her team back on track? She returns a strong core of players, including reigning national player of the year Angel Reese and senior guard Khayla Pointer. Expect to be hearing from LSU in March.

South Carolina

After LSU’s loss, the Gamecocks stepped into the No. 1 spot in the rankings. Dawn Staley’s squad is always a force in the SEC, and this year is no exception. Senior center Kamilla Cardoso is averaging a double-double early in the season, and freshman guard MiLaysia Fulwiley is providing early scoring punch.


The Hawkeyes lost some key players from last season’s team, but they still have one of the most dynamic scorers in the country in senior forward Caitlin Clark. With sophomore forward Hannah Stuelke backing up Clark in the scoring column and pulling in rebounds, Iowa remains a threat to win it all.


Stanford is always one of the most well-coached teams in the country, having had Coach Tara VanDerveer at the helm since 1985. Behind junior forward Kiki Iriafen and senior guard Cameron Brink, the Cardinals should be one of the top teams in the Pac-12 and the nation.


Alissa Pili, Gianna Kneepkens and Isabel Palmer provide a potent 1-2-3 scoring punch for the Utes, who are a fast-rising team to watch on the national stage. In a Pac-12 loaded with ranked teams, expect them to be in the mix for the conference championship — and perhaps much more.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Players in the Spotlight

Caitlin Clark, Iowa

Clark averaged more than 31 points per game in the NCAA Tournament last season, including back-to-back 40-point performances. Though the Hawkeyes fell to LSU in the championship game, Clark is back for her senior season, and she’s picked up right where she left off.

Alissa Pili, Utah

Pili played three seasons at USC before transferring to Utah before last season. She promptly averaged more than 20 points per game and was named Pac-12 Player of the Year. The Alaska native is back for one more season with the Utes, and she’s looking to add some team trophies to her shelf.

Paige Bueckers, UConn

After missing last season with a torn ACL, Bueckers is back on the court and providing plenty of optimism for the UConn faithful. She’s leading the Huskies in scoring through the early games, and she’s poised to lead their charge back toward the top of the standings.

Cameron Brink, Stanford

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Brink helped the Cardinal to an NCAA championship as a freshman in 2021, and she’s out for one more title as a senior this year. One of the most versatile players in the country, she can score in the paint and from beyond the arc.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Storylines to Follow

Can LSU and Reese Get on the Same Page?

Reese earned National Player of the Year honors last season, her first with the Tigers after transferring from Maryland. Yet this season has gotten off to a shaky start. Reese was benched in the second half against Kent State and then wasn’t with the team for its next game against Southeastern Louisiana. If LSU is to repeat as champions, it’s going to need Reese as a major contributor.

Will Bueckers lead Connecticut Back to the Final Four?

With Bueckers sidelined with a torn ACL, the Huskies streak of 14 consecutive Final Four appearances came to an end last season. Bueckers is back, and she’ll need to stay healthy and productive for the Huskies to return to the championship conversation.

Who Will Rise to the Top of the Pac-12?

By mid-November, the Top 10 rankings included five — yes, five — Pac-12 teams. UCLA, Colorado, Utah, Stanford and USC are all among the nation’s top teams in the early going. Once conference play begins, that’s likely to change as these teams square off against each other. It’ll be fun to see which team steps to the forefront.

NCAA Women’s Basketball Must-See Freshmen

Juju Watkins, USC

Watkins, a 6-foot-2 forward, is a skilled scorer, rebounder and defender. She has wasted little time becoming one of the Trojans top players as a freshman. She can play multiple positions, and she’s always a force on the defensive end of the court. Her growth will have a lot to do with how far the Trojans go this season.

Mikaylah Williams, LSU

While the Reese drama swirls off the court in Baton Rouge, Williams is busy draining buckets on the court. The freshman from Bossier City is averaging more than 20 points per game early in the season, shooting a phenomenal percentage from beyond the arc and has a knack for finishing at the rim.

BOLD PREDICTION about NCAA Women’s Basketball

South Carolina Goes Undefeated

This one is pretty bold, but the Gamecocks only face conference rival LSU once in the regular season. With the Tigers early-season issues, South Carolina could capitalize and make a run to the championship.

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