|Illinois Wesleyan was one of
two CCIW teams to win a national championship.
Two years ago we posted a resource called the Conference Guidebook for Division III men's basketball. Now we have a starter version for women’s basketball that shows the NCAA tournament results on a conference-by-conference basis for the past 10 years. The 10-year comparison period covers 2-plus classes of four-year students and 10 is a nice round number.
Eighteen conferences had at least one member reach the national semifinals over this period. Nine conferences produced national champions since 2004, while only five did so on the men’s side of Division III. The CCIW is the only conference with two women’s national champions (Illinois Wesleyan in 2012 and Millikin in 2004), although that's because the UAA's run was more than 10 years ago.
That doesn't discount the CCIW’s impressive performance. Teams from that conference have a .689 winning percentage, the best among the 44 active and three defunct conferences participating in the NCAA tournament.
The UAA and NESCAC tied for the most national semifinal appearances (seven apiece) and the most NCAA tournament games (101 apiece). Not surprisingly they also have great winning percentages. If we extended our period back a few more years, the UAA would look even better. Washington U. was an unstoppable juggernaut from 1998-2001, winning four consecutive titles before our 10-year period.
Most conferences with really high winning percentages also have depth at the top. That’s the hallmark of an elite conference:
- NESCAC: Nine of 11 members have been in the NCAA tournament since 2004 and three to the national semifinals. Hamilton, which is now in the NESCAC, made the tournament as a member of the Liberty League
- UAA: Six of eight in the NCAA tournament since 2004, three to the national semifinals
- WIAC: Six of nine in the NCAA tournament since 2004, two to the national semifinals
- NWC: Six of nine in the NCAA tournament since 2004, one to the national semifinal
- CCIW: Four of eight in the NCAA tournament since 2004, two to the national semifinals
Other conferences have excellent records because they have excellent individual programs. The MIAA has the third-highest winning percentage (.681), but 21 of its 32 NCAA Tournament wins belong to Hope.
Pulling this together involved manual compilation, so there are undoubtedly some errors or omissions. When you find them, please let us know by email at email@example.com.