UConn and South Carolina enter the season as the consensus top two teams in the country. Both are expected to dominate the Big East and SEC, respectively, but several other top teams could find themselves in competitive conference races right through the final days of the 2021-22 women's college basketball regular season.
The nation's best conference battle could play out in the Big Ten. Maryland is the favorite, but three other conference teams -- Indiana, Iowa and Michigan -- landed in the top 10 of our preseason top 25 rankings. Three of the Terps' final four games of the regular season are against the Hoosiers, Hawkeyes and Wolverines, so don't expect the Big Ten champion to be decided until the last week of February.
NC State and Louisville only meet once during the regular season, in mid-January, but the winner of the ACC could determine a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
The Summit League is home to one of the best under-the-radar rivalries in the sport in South Dakota-South Dakota State. Their meetings are often among the best games of the entire season. They both are projected to be back at the top of the Summit League.
In the West Coast Conference, we're watching to see if BYU can unseat Gonzaga atop the standings.
ESPN writers Charlie Creme and Mechelle Voepel, and The Undefeated's Sean Hurd project the regular-season champ in all 32 conferences.
Team listed first/alone is the consensus pick in each conference; teams listed in parentheses also received one vote as the conference favorite.
* Denotes a unanimous pick from our panel to win the conference race.
ACC: NC State*
America East: Stony Brook*
American: South Florida*
Atlantic 10: Dayton*
Atlantic Sun: Florida Gulf Coast*
Big 12: Baylor*
Big East: UConn*
Big Sky: Idaho State*
Big South: High Point (Longwood)
Big Ten: Maryland*
Big West: UC Davis (UC Irvine)
Conference USA: Charlotte (Old Dominion)
Horizon League: IUPUI*
Mid-American: Bowling Green (Ohio)
MEAC: Morgan State (Howard)
Missouri Valley: Missouri State*
Mountain West: Fresno State*
Northeast: Mount St. Mary's*
Ohio Valley: Belmont*
Patriot League: Lehigh (Boston U.)
SEC: South Carolina*
Southland: SE Louisiana*
SWAC: Jackson State*
Summit League: South Dakota (South Dakota State)
Sun Belt: Troy*
West Coast: BYU*