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  • Writer's pictureKyle Flannery

Predicting the Winner of Each Power 5 Conference


LSU star Angel Reese points to her ring finger

Maddie Meyer/Getty Images


The upcoming 2023-24 NCAA Women's Basketball season is likely to have the most parity between teams in years, continuing a positive trend from last year's campaign. With perennial powerhouses continuing their dominance being joined by programs on a meteoric rise, several championship contenders exist in each Power 5 conference. Here are my predictions on which teams will end up hoisting their conference tournament trophies next winter.

 

Virginia Tech star Liz Kitley goes through the pregame handshake line

Virginia Tech Athletics


ACC: Virginia Tech


This upcoming season, the ACC is a two dog race between Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. VT may be the only team outside of LSU to have 2 legitimate Wooden Award candidates in Liz Kitley and Georgia Amoore. If Caitlin Clark didn't exist, I would argue that the favorite to win the honor of the nation's best player would be Kitley. The Hokies are out for revenge after taking eventual-champion LSU to the wire in last year's Final Four, and their path back to March Madness success will include beating up on the rest of the ACC.


Ohio State star Cotie McMahon gives a high five to her teammate

Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press


Big Ten: Ohio State


The casual fan is probably wondering why college basketball's darling Caitlin Clark and her Iowa Hawkeyes aren't the clear favorite to win the Big Ten, but they refuse to acknowledge one major piece of information: the impact of Monika Czinano's departure. Czinano was the perfect compliment to Clark, and I just don't see anyone on this current Iowa roster filling that role sufficiently. Similar to Iowa, Indiana did not use the transfer portal effectively to help fill the hole that Grace Berger is leaving. Meanwhile, Ohio State went and signed reigning ACC Defensive Player of the Year Celeste Taylor from Duke out of the transfer portal to bolster their backcourt. With Taylor being paired with rising star Cotie McMahon, Ohio State is a legitimate national championship contender in 2024. Unlike their conference counterparts, the Buckeyes' activity in the transfer portal will set them apart from the rest of the Big Ten this upcoming season.


Texas guard Rori Harmon celebrates a Big 12 Championship

Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports


Big 12: Texas


Texas underperformed last year, largely in part due to a myriad of injuries, including star guard Rori Harmon missing time with a foot injury to start last season. With Iowa State's Stephanie Soares being drafted 4th overall in this year's WNBA draft, we'll most certainly see the Cyclones fall down the standings this year. The Big 12 Tournament showed us what a healthy Longhorns squad is capable of, which is why I give Texas a slight edge over Oklahoma in the conference this season. If Harmon is unable to improve her efficiency (37% from the field in 2022-23), however, the Big 12 may be anyone's for the taking.


Utah women's basketball players come off the bench to celebrate

University of Utah Athletics


Pac-12: Utah


Utah returns reigning Pac-12 player of the year Alissa Pili while not losing any significant rotational players to graduation or the transfer portal. The Utes also picked up Boston University transfer Sam Crispe, who adds size and shooting to the team's frontcourt. Crispe comes in as a sophomore who doesn't shy away from the competition of bigger conferences, as she netted a career-high 16 points against Boston College last season. Utah will certainly be challenged in the conference by Stanford, but the Cardinal losing the orchestrator of their offense in Haley Jones to the WNBA draft will certainly cause them to take a step down from last year's campaign.


LSU women's basketball players strategize in the huddle

Erin Barker


SEC: LSU


This prediction is the biggest no-brainer for one reason: LSU gained so much star power while South Carolina lost all of theirs. The reigning national champions added Louisville standout Hailey Van Lith and the country's best mid-major transfer in DePaul's Aneesah Morrow. These pieces in addition to the returning duo of Angel Reese and Flau'jae Johnson give the Tigers undoubtedly the best starting lineup in all of women's college hoops. Meanwhile, South Carolina will roll out a lineup sans Aliyah Boston, Zia Cooke, Brea Beal, and Laeticia Amihere. Look for Kim Mulkey's LSU squad to clinch the number 1 overall seed in March Madness and make a run at back-to-back national championships.

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