In two days, women’s college basketball will be back. Eight months after the COVID-19 pandemic abruptly ended the 2019-2020 season, canceling conference tournaments and ultimately, the 2020 Women’s NCAA Tournament, programs across the country are set to begin on Wednesday.
While the hype and the excitement is palpable, so is the uncertainty. As schools, programs, and conferences battle against COVID-19, putting various safety protocols in place for workouts, practices, and games, this will likely be the most challenging season we will collectively experience.
That said, it is going to be a tremendously satisfying sight to see some familiar faces such as Geno Auriemma, Dawn Staley and Brenda Frese patrolling the sidelines, while Vic Shaefer and Nikki McCray-Penson take over new programs and Niele Ivey returns to lead her alma mater.
Some of the country’s best players like Aliyah Boston, Dana Evans, Rhyne Howard and Aari McDonald are back, while newcomers Paige Bueckers, Angel Reese and Kamilla Cordoso will look to take the country by storm as freshmen.
The transfer portal was certainly active this past spring and summer as well, as we will see a number of new faces in new places this season.
At some point soon, I will make my Final Four and national championship predictions, but for now, let’s take a look at 25 of the best teams in the country heading into the 2020-21 season.
Women’s Top 25 Preseason Power Rankings
1. South Carolina
The Gamecocks head into the 2020-21 season as the best team in the country. While there are a number of teams on their tail, coach Dawn Staley’s team, right now, is the best. USC is led by reigning Lisa Leslie Award winner Aliyah Boston, whose freshman campaign was one of the best in recent memory. Fellow sophomore Zia Cooke, may end up being the best player on this team and the most important player in the country this year. Add in returning starter Brea Beal and freshman Eniya Russell, it is easy to see why this team is the clear favorite in the SEC and the favorite to win the national championship.
As I said in May, “welcome to the Paige Bueckers era.” Bueckers is set to take Storrs, Connecticut, by storm and is one of the most unique and special players that I have ever seen play. Her game certainly speaks for itself, but she is already showing the leadership capabilities that separate the great players from everyone else. Two other top-25 recruits, Mir McLean and Aaliyah Edwards, join a strong group of returners in Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Anna Makurat and Cristyn Williams. Add in Evina Westbrook, a prolific scorer who had to sit out last season after transferring from Tennessee, and this may be Geno Auriemma’s best team since the 2016 national championship team.
Louisville is an interesting team and has made quite a leap for me into the top-three. In May, I had them in the No. 8 spot, but the more I look at their