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SI’s Preseason Women’s College Basketball Top 25 for 2022–23

South Carolina is the early favorite, but a handful of programs could challenge the reigning champs after offseason lineup boosts.

After spending all of last season sitting at No. 1 in the AP poll, reigning champs South Carolina return as the early favorites to repeat. But there are a handful of programs that seem primed to mount a challenge thanks to offseason lineup boosts.

Read on for Sports Illustrated’s preseason top 25 for the 2022–23 season, which kicks off Nov. 7.

Dawn Staley and Aliyah Boston celebrate South Carolina’s national championship win in 2022.

1. South Carolina

Aliyah Boston, last season’s National Player of the Year, returns for her senior season, which means that coach Dawn Staley’s reigning champions are once again the team to beat.

2. Stanford

The Cardinal backcourt will look different following the departures of sisters Lexie and Lacie Hull, and Anna Wilson. But senior guard Haley Jones leads a roster stocked with talent.

3. Texas

The Longhorns, who reached the Elite Eight last year, have not been to a Final Four since 2003, but the addition of back-to-back WCC Player of the Year Shaylee Gonzales from BYU could help them take that next step.

4. Iowa

Caitlin Clark, the nation’s leading scorer last year (27.0 ppg), returns for her junior season alongside talented fifth-year post player Monika Czinano (21.2 ppg), but the Hawkeyes’ key will be getting defensive stops.

5. UConn

Paige Bueckers will miss the entire season after an offseason ACL tear, but coach Geno Auriemma will be aiming for his 15th straight Final Four behind two freshmen who were top-five recruits, forwards Ice Brady and Ayanna Patterson.

6. Notre Dame

After a heartbreaking Sweet 16 loss, the Fighting Irish should come back

strong behind guards Olivia Miles (who last year became the first freshman to post a triple double in the history of the men’s or women’s tourney), Sonia Citron and Dara Mabrey.

7. Louisville

The Cardinals lost three starters from last year’s team, but coach Jeff Walz still has brilliant junior guard Hailey Van Lith and has added two exceptional transfer guards in Morgan Jones (Florida State) and Chrislyn Carr (Syracuse), in addition to bringing in a solid recruiting class.

8. Iowa State

Continuity could be the key as senior wing Ashley Joens gives the Cyclones a strong All-American candidate. Plus, junior guards Emily Ryan and Lexi Donarski could prove to be the Big 12’s best backcourt.

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9. Tennessee

Though Rae Burrell is now on the WNBA’s Sparks roster, the Lady Vols are still loaded thanks to freshman wing Justine Pissott, key veteran returners and the transfers brought in by coach Kellie Harper.

10. NC State

Wes Moore’s program is coming off its first Elite Eight appearance since 1998. The Wolfpack bring back three vets—junior guard Diamond Johnson, senior wing Jakia Brown-Turner and senior center Camille Hobby—who will keep this team in the ACC fray.

11. Virginia Tech

The Hokies, looking to bounce back from an opening-round tournament departure, add two-time All-American guard Ashley Owusu from Maryland and grad student forward Taylor Soule, who averaged 16.0 points for Boston College last year, to a team led by senior center Elizabeth Kitley, the reigning ACC Player of the Year.

12. North Carolina

The Tar Heels gave the eventual-champion Gamecocks all they could handle in the Sweet 16 last year and return four starters, including junior guard Deja Kelly, who was fourth in the ACC in scoring last season with 16.5 ppg.

13. Indiana

The Hoosiers followed up their best season in program history in 2020–21 with another superb one last year (24–9). Indiana will now compete for the Big Ten title behind grad student guard Grace Berger and senior forward Mackenzie Holmes.

14. Oklahoma

In Jennie Baranczyk’s second season as coach, the Sooners return all key players from last year’s 25–9 squad. Sharpshooting guard Aubrey Joens—the sister of Iowa State star Ashley—joins what should be a high-powered offense.

15. Ohio State

The Buckeyes have two key scorers back in senior guards Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell, but they will need production from the paint if they want to build off their finish as Big Ten co-champions.

16. LSU

Hall of Fame coach Kim Mulkey led the Tigers to 26 wins in her first season with the program. This year’s retooled roster will feature Alexis Morris and Maryland transfer Angel Reese.

17. Maryland

The Terrapins lost five players to the transfer portal but restocked by pulling five out of it, including grad student forward Brinae Alexander, who was all-SEC last year at Vanderbilt.

18. Arizona

Coach Adia Barnes continues to be one of the sport’s preeminent recruiters and tacticians. While the Wildcats lost in the second round of last year’s NCAA tournament, a roster rich with budding talent should have them ready to take another shot.

19. Baylor

After losing two first-round picks in the WNBA draft, the Bears won’t dominate the Big 12 as they did last season. But coach Nicki Collen enters Year 2 with five returners plus some high-profile transfers and a top-notch recruiting class led by guard Bella Fontleroy.

20. Creighton

The Bluejays, after a thrilling run to their first Elite Eight, bring back eight players, including Lauren Jensen, who shot 43.7% from three last year. While coach Jim Flanery will miss Tatum Rembao, the program has high expectations.

21. Princeton

The high of upsetting Kentucky in last year’s tournament didn’t keep the Tigers from losing Ivy League Player of the Year Abby Meyers to Maryland. But they will bring back their next two leading scorers, guards Julia Cunningham and Kaitlyn Chen.

22. Georgia

Katie Abrahamson-Henderson arrives as coach from UCF, where her team won a school-record 26 games last year. She brought a trio of players with her and secured fifth-year wing Audrey Warren (Texas) from the transfer portal.

23. UCLA

After making the WNIT semis last March, the Bruins enter this season with perhaps the country’s best freshman class, highlighted by Premier Basketball’s No. 2 recruit, guard Kiki Rice.

24. Belmont

The Bruins have pulled first-round NCAA tournament upsets in back-to-back years and will look to take another step forward. Two key players, junior guards Destinee Wells and Tuti Jones, return to an offense that loves to shoot the three-point ball.

25. Villanova

After winning Big East Player of the Year last season, senior forward Maddy Siegrist looks to help Villanova make consecutive NCAA tournament appearances for the first time in nearly two decades. Nonconference games with Belmont, Princeton and Iowa State, however, will test the abilities of those around her.

Editor’s note: A previous edition of this top 25 had Oregon at No. 20. It was compiled before Sedona Prince was ruled out for the season, bumping the Ducks out of our ranking.

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