This post is number two of a five-post series on the best programs in women's college basketball. Yesterday, we looked at the teams that were ranked #71-#100 on the list, this time we look at the next thirty teams on the list.
At this level, a program is just as likely to be one from a major conference as from a mid-major or lower. The programs from lower conferences are of somewhat higher quality than those from the #71-#100 list. You find teams like Kansas State, a team that won a Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) championship in 2006. Or Marquette, a WNIT championship winner in 2008. Basically, these programs either a) have had recent post-season success, but no substantial history, or b) the reverse - a history of accomplishment but poor results recently. The mid-majors at this level are ones that can (usually) be depended upon to win their conference tournaments.
41. TCU: Ten straight years in the post-season. All of these trips came under head coach Jeff Mittie, whose Horned Frogs won the Mountain West in 2010.
42. Kentucky: Kentucky survived into the Elite Eight in the 2010 NCAA tourney, going farther than any SEC team, even Tennessee. Six straight post-season appearances for the Wildcats and the third under coach Matthew Mitchell. Part of this success comes from the progress of junior F Victoria Dunlap who shall be a first-round WNBA Draft Pick in 2011.
43. Iowa: Lisa Bluder has taken the Hawkeyes to nine post-season appearances, including the last three seasons. Last year, they made it to the second round of the NCAA tourney before falling by 29 to Stanford.
44. Kansas State: had been playing in the postseason since 2002, won WNIT in 2006. Wildcats fandom runs deep in Kansas. Postseason appearance streak came to an end after disappointing 14-18 finish in 2010 after graduation of PG Shalee Lehning.
45. St. John's: tied highest ranking ever in AP poll last year reaching #15. Kim Barnes Arico's Red Storm ended up tied for fourth in the Big East. First NCAA appearance since 2006 was last year, lost in overtime to Florida State in second round.
46. UCLA: started season 9-1 under head coach Nikki Caldwell in her first season, ended it second in Pac-10 and with both a Top 25 ranking and the Bruins first NCAA tourney appearance since 2006.
47. Utah: Coach Elaine Elliot is taking a leave of absence/retirement for a year due to fatigue after 31 years of coaching and 582 wins. Anthony Levrets will lead the Utes into their final season of Mountain West play.
48. Wisconsin-Green Bay: In 2010 Matt Bollant became the Division I Coach of the Year after three seasons with the Phoenix and a 50-4 Horizon League record. UWGB has won 12 straight Horizon League championships.
49. Marquette: Two-time Division I Coach of the Year Terri Mitchell has taken the Golden Eagles to nine straight post-season berths and the WNIT championship in 2008.
50. Chattanooga: The Mocs have 11 straight post-season appearances. Coach Wes Moore has won 77 percent of his games and is just 10 wins away from his 500th victory as a head coach.
51. South Dakota State: An insane level of success since 2000 under Aaron Johnston. Program has only been in Division I since 2004-05 season. Jackrabbits were in Top 25 at end of 2009, and the Summit Conference isn't exactly the SEC.
52. North Carolina State: Kellie Jolly Harper took two Western Carolina teams to the NCAA Tournaments; starts the post-Kay Yow era with 20 wins and another Wolfpack trip to the NCAAs.
53. Illinois State: New hire Stephanie Glance starts out here, leaving Tennessee after several years at NC State. She inherits a program that went to two straight WNIT semifinals (2009, 2010). Pingeton took the Redbirds into four post-season tournaments in six years, can Glance do the same?
54. Western Kentucky: Lady Toppers like to go deep in WNIT - they've been to the semifinals twice in the 2000s. Nine out of ten post-season appearances in last decade. Under coach Mary Taylor Cowles, program has missed 20 wins only once since her arrival in 2002.
55. Wisconsin: Last year Lisa Stone took the Badgers to the NCAA tournament for just the seventh time in the Badgers history - she got Coach of the Year for that. Wisconsin has four straight postseason appearances, it might be a program to watch out for.
56. Boston College: Sylvia Crawley took Eagles to Final Four of WNIT in first year as head coach but to 17-15 record and no post-season last year. Why? Crawley claims that whole team wasn't on same page in desire to play in the postseason. What about this year?
57. USC: In first year at program, new coach Michael Cooper goes 19-12 and earns third place in Pac-10. But a cost (or status) conscious USC admin turns down a berth in the WNIT. "F*** the WNIT?"
58. Florida: Problem for coach Amanda Butler, who has her own website at www.coachamandabutler.com - if you identify the team with yourself, you identify yourself with its losses. However, all three years for Butler have been two-deep in postseason despite losing record last year.
59. Liberty: Best team by far in the Big South; conference winners 13 of last 14 years. The Flames have sent Katie Mattera and Megan Frazee to the WNBA.
60. Georgetown: Terry Williams-Flournoy has been extended to 2015 after taking the Hoyas to a WNIT quarterfinal in 2009 and the second round of the NCAA tournament and a perfect home record last year, but the Hoyas are better known for their pregame fist fight with Louisville in January.
61. Fresno State: Bulldogs fell short of a third straight WAC championship to Louisiana Tech but program is best in the WAC nonetheless. Three straight NCAA appearances, but 2007-08 season doesn't count due to use of ineligible player.
62: Virginia Commonwealth: It only took 95 wins for Beth Cunningham to become the program's win leader. Three postseason appearances, including one NCAA berth in last three years.
63. Minnesota: Pam Borton can definitely coach. But last year the Gophers went 13-17 and graduated five seniors. Rebuilding year in 2011?
64. Texas Tech: Kristy Curry going into fifth season as Red Raiders coach, 20+ wins a season becoming a bygone memory. Program better known for Brittney Griner/Jordan Barncastle fight.
65. Kansas: Jayhawks have four straight WNIT appearances under coach Bonnie Hendrickson, including the 2009 title game. But they can't break the middle of the pack in the Big Twelve.
66. Arkansas-Little Rock: Four straight 20+ win seasons have culminated in three post season appearances. Last year, UALR beat higher-seeded Georgia Tech in the first game of the Trojans first appearance in the NCAA tournament. The best women's program in Arkansas.
67. Indiana: Felicia Legette-Jack has been head coach for just four years. Three of those years were WNIT appearances but last year the Hoosiers stumbled into 10th place in the Big Ten.
68. Dayton: In the last three years, the Flyers have won 20+ games. 2008 WNIT first round, 2009 WNIT second round and last year their first ever NCAA win, against TCU by one point in the opening round.
69. New Mexico: Thirteen (13) straight post-season appearances. Great team GPAs. Outstanding attendance at The Pit. A pity that New Mexico doesn't have big-time football, as the Lobos would be an outstanding Pac-10 addition.
70. Southern Methodist: Rhonda Rompola's program has won 64 games over the last three years with four consecutive postseason appearances over their five years in Conference USA.