There was a lot of chalk this week in women’s college basketball, but there were also a couple of really high-profile games and results that shifted the Power Rankings a little bit. One new team entered (welcome NC State), and one team dropped from the top 10 into the honorable mentions. Ultimately, the 15 teams mentioned stayed the same as no monumental upsets occurred.
- Mississippi State
10 – Arizona State (Last Week: 9)
- The Sun Devils drop one spot largely due to circumstances out of their control. They had two wins by double digits over the weekend, beating Washington and Washington State, both on the road. They continue to, in my opinion, be undervalued by the polls, ranked 16th as of this writing, but they do drop one spot due to the performance of the teams surrounding them in the rankings.
9 – NC State (Last Week: Honorable Mention)
- I excluded the Wolfpack – currently ranked 8th – from the Top 10 last week, and they shamed me into including them this week, as they rolled through 2 ACC games, including a 17-point win over #14 Florida State. I’m not necessarily convinced this team is a Final Four threat, but 17-1 is 17-1, so the Wolfpack slot in at #9 here.
8 – DePaul (Last Week: 10)
- DePaul finally rose a little bit, from 14th to 11th, in the rankings this week, but I continue to value them a little bit higher. This team has been very impressive, especially offensively. They dominated two Big East road games this week, defeating Xavier by 23, and Butler by 15. It’s been over a month since they gave up more than 71 points, and almost 2 months since they scored less than 74. They are 17-2 and lead the Big East, so definitely watch out for this team.
7- Oregon State (Last Week: 5)
- It’s hard to penalize the Cowboys too much for a brutally close road loss to an elite Stanford team, as their game-tying 3-pointer rimmed out at the buzzer. They are just 2-2 against ranked teams, with losses in two of their past three games overall, so a home and home set against Oregon should reveal something about this team, and whether they’re truly going to be capable of a deep run come March.
6 – Stanford (Last week: 3)
- Yes, Stanford’s only loss was to Oregon…but they lost by 32 points. That’s unacceptable no matter what, especially as a Top-5 team. They were completely dominated in the second half and put together an all-around putrid performance. The Cardinal rebounded with a solid road victory of Oregon State, and they’ll get a couple of home games this week to prep for a road trip followed by a showdown with UCLA.
5 – UConn (Last Week: 6)
- It’s honestly still difficult to figure out where this team slots into the national picture. After being outclassed by Baylor, the Huskies haven’t lost, but they haven’t really played a tough game. Conference opponents Memphis and UCF played UConn close, but the Huskies have also blown out Houston and Tulsa, by 40+ points each. They host Tennessee on Thursday, which should give a little bit of a clear idea of where this team stands right now, but I wouldn’t necessarily suggest betting against the Huskies and their history of success.
4- Louisville (Last Week: 4)
- This may have been my toughest ranking of the week, as Louisville put together two solid road performances, including a win over UNC who was 9-1 at home. However, the lack of ranked opponents, given their competititon’s achievements kept the Cardinals slotted in at #4 this week. They have just two ranked opponents – Florida State and NC State – left on their schedule, which will likely reveal how tournament-ready Louisville is.
3 – Oregon (Last Week: 7)
- “They still have a deep tourney run in them, but they’ll have to win the games they’re supposed to.” That was my direct quote analyzing Oregon’s standing after last week, and the Ducks responded to my challenge – well probably not my challenge specifically, but they improved their play drastically. Hosting Stanford, who was #3 at the time, Oregon blew their Pac-12 rival out of the water, turning a slim halftime advantage into a second-half laugher. Thoughts of a letdown game were quickly squashed, as Oregon beat Cal by 50 points. Cal isn’t a powerhouse, but a 50-point conference win is really good. The Ducks are back, but they’ll have a chance to prove themselves again with two games versus Oregon State this weekend.
2 – South Carolina (Last Week: 2)
- I still disagree with the AP Poll, which has the Gamecocks ranked 1st. South Carolina has no doubt been impressive, especially with their dominant start to SEC play, but I don’t see them as the top team in the country right now. They did add to their resume with a top-10 win over Mississippi State, but I’ll need further convincing to move the Gamecocks up the final rung of this ladder.
1 – Baylor (Last Week: 1)
- South Carolina’s ranking at #2 has more do with what Baylor is doing than what South Carolina isn’t doing. The Bears look to be on cruise control right now, and if you don’t believe me, ask the rest of the Big 12. Baylor has won three straight conference games by at least 40 points. And not over scrubs either: The Bears have victimized Oklahoma State (11-6), Kansas (12-4), and #17 West Virginia (13-3). It’s been an unprecedented stretch of dominance by Baylor, and they sit at #1 until their performance indicates reason for change.