Conference Winners

Predictions on the winners of all 30 Division I Women's Basketball conferences

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Oct. 15, 2007

By Jeff Lippman


Jeff Lippman

Jeff is's lead women's basketball writer.
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America East - Hartford: The Hawks return senior All-Conference selection Danielle Hood along with three other starters and an All-Conference Rookie selection from 2006 who redshirted last season, but did lose All-Conference first-teamer Ikea Witt from a team that went 25-9 last year.


Atlantic 10 - George Washington: Coach Joe McKeown returns four starters, including All-American candidate point guard Kimberly Beck and talented senior Sarah-Jo Lawrence, and junior 6-foot-4 center Jessica Adair to a team that has goals of reaching Tampa and the Final Four.




ACC - Maryland (See ACC Preview)


Atlantic Sun - East Tennessee State: After losing in the A-Sun title game to Belmont last season, the Lady Bucs will take it a step further this year. They return four starters and nine contributing members to go with five solid new additions to a team that contended a year ago. Couple that with the loss of Belmont's leading scorer and rebounder, Alysha Clark, to transfer and the A-Sun is ETSU's for the taking.    


Big 12 - Texas A&M (See Big 12 Preview)


Big East - Connecticut (See Big East Preview)


Big Sky - Montana: This will be an interesting race with Idaho State returning Natalie Doma and Andrea Lightfoot from a team that surprised many by winning the Big Sky Tournament last year. With that said, Montana returns five starters - including league MVP Mandy Morales - from a team that went 27-4 and 15-1 in conference play last year.


Big South- Radford: The Highlanders return four of five leading scorers from a team that finished 20-11 and 10-4 in conference play last season, and they only improve with senior-laden leadership. And not to mention 6-foot-3 senior center Kelli Darden, who gives Radford good size inside.


Big Ten - Michigan State (See Big Ten Preview)


Big West - UC Riverside: Riverside brings back the Big West Player of the Year in Kemie Nkele, three Honorable Mention All-Conference players and a member of the All-Freshman team to a group that blew past league competition last season.


CAA - Willam and Mary: That's right, I'm picking the Tribe to win the first CAA title for any team other than Old Dominion in 16 years. The Monarchs will still be talented and tough to beat, but there is too much returning talent on this William and Mary team.


Conference USA - SMU: This will come down to two teams that finished with 9-7 conference records last year as SMU edges Southern Miss for the C-USA crown. A very solid league will feature other good teams, but with the athletes that SMU and Southern Miss return, they should vie for the top spot. SMU takes it as they have the senior-laden team that returns five starters.


Horizon League - Milwaukee: Green Bay has been the class of this league for so long, but in 2007-08 the title will go to a different team from Wisconsin. The Panthers boast 6-foot-2 center Traci Edwards who led the league in scoring and rebounding last season and has led in boards the past two seasons.


Ivy League - Harvard: The Crimson bring back the three leading scorers from a team that dominated the Ivy to the tune of 13-1 last season.


MAAC - Marist: Last year's Cinderella darlings will make it back to the NCAA Tournament with the blossoming of a bona-fide star-in-the-making in sophomore Rachele Fitz.


MAC - Ball State: Senior Julie DeMuth, the fourth-leading returning scorer and top returning rebounder in the MAAC, will lead an experienced and talented Cardinals group that won 24 games last year to the top of a conference that has been dominated by Bowling Green in recent years.


MEAC - Coppin State: When you finish 18-0 in league play and return your best player and last year's MEAC Player of the Year in guard Rashida Suber, you automatically become the favorite to repeat the following season. Thus the fate of the Coppin State Eagles.


Missouri Valley - Illinois State: After finishing second in the MVC to Southern Illinois last season, they return the MVC Player of the Year in Kristi Cirone, who will be just a junior, and three of the other four top scorers from last season, making the Redbirds an easy pick to take the conference this year. 


Mountain West - Wyoming: For a team that lost out on winning its conference last year despite winning 27 games and being ranked for part of the season, losing just three players who combined for a total of 18 games played doesn't seem like that big of a deal. Returning all five starters, however, does for this Cowgirls squad, who won't let another Mountain West title slip away.


Northeast - Long Island: Remember the name: Valerie Nainima. Just a freshman last year, she led the Blackbirds in scoring with 17.8 points per contest and was devastating from beyond the arc. Expect Robert Morris, which returns its leading scorer and rebounder in Chinata Nesbit, to compete with LIU, but the Blackbirds will come out on top in the end.


Ohio Valley - Southeast Missouri: The Redhawks do lose the nation's best rebounder of a season ago in Lachelle Lyles, but return their top four scorers from a team that went 16-4 to lead Ohio Valley Conference action last season. Murray State may have lost their leading scorer, but if Southeast Missouri can't find a rebounder to make up for what they lost, the Racers would eagerly move right in.


Pac-10 - Stanford (See Pac-10 Preview)


Patriot League - Bucknell: This senior-led bunch brings back its leading scorer and rebounder in Hope Foster and its leading assist-getter in Kesha Champion - suitable name for this story - along with most of its scoring from a season ago, which saw the Bison win the outright conference title with a 12-2 record, but fail to win the conference tourney as an upstart Holy Cross team brought home the title.


SEC - Tennessee (See SEC Preview)


Southern - Chattanooga: The top two teams in the SoCon return nearly all of their starters for another season of neck-and-neck competition for the top spot. Western Carolina returns its five leading scorers from a season that saw them go 24-10 and 15-3 in the conference, but the Lady Mocs return their top four, including senior forward Alex Anderson, who averaged 20.5 points and 10.1 boards per game last year.


Southland - Texas State: No team dominated the Southland like UT-Arlington last season, going 16-0 in conference play, but the Mavs lose a lot of experience and coach Donna Capps unexpectedly resigned to become an athletics administrator for a Texas high school district, leaving the Southland looking for a new champion. The Bobcats should fill that mold nicely after an 11-5 conference season sees them return the most talent.


SWAC - Prairie View A&M: After finishing second behind Jackson State and going on to win the conference tourney, legendary player Cynthia Cooper-Dyke's team returns the SWAC's fourth-leading scorer and leading rebounder of a season ago, just a sophomore, Gaati Werema. And if that weren't enough - and it probably is - the Panthers also return the SWAC's No. 5 scorer in senior Shavonne Smith and No. 3 rebounder in junior Twila Stokes. Cooper has built a young and very talented team.  


Summit League - Oakland: The Summit Coach of the Year, Beckie Francis has a lot to work with returning from a team that finished atop the conference in the regular season last year with a record of 12-2 and 19-13 overall. And although the Golden Grizzlies lose 14.5 points per game in senior All-Conference First-Teamer Nicole Piggott, they do return a first-team member in junior guard Jessica Pike. And don't forget about two All-Conference Newcomer selections in sophomores guard Melissa Jeltema and forward Hanna Reising. With the class of the returning talent, Oakland should once again win the regular season and this time, take the tournament as well.


Sun Belt - Western Kentucky: Senior 6-foot-3 Lady Topper forward Crystal Kelly averaged more than 24 points and nine rebounds last season, good enough to land her on this year's preseason Wade Player of the Year watch list, and that's good enough for Western Kentucky to sail past a depleted Middle Tennessee State bunch to the Sun Belt's apex.


West Coast - San Diego: This is the year of the Lady Bullfighters (Toreros) in the WCC as Gonzaga loses much of what made them a 13-1 conference team a year ago. USD brings back its top four scorers from last year including 6-foot-5 junior center Amber Sprague, who led the team in scoring, and senior point guard and All-American candidate Amanda Rego, who is one of the best passing points in the nation.


WAC - Nevada: The top teams in this conference all take big hits from graduation and the team left standing after the dust clears is the Wolf Pack. The return of leading scorer and top defender Dellena Criner, the team's junior point guard, coupled with a solid group of other returnees gives Nevada the type of roster built to win when conference play begins.