Stanford was involved in the best games of the week, as they faced off against #6 Oregon and then #8 Oregon State over the weekend. Thursday night was a demoralizing night for the Cardinal, as they lost 87-55, getting absolutely manhandled in the second half by the Ducks. Going down five after the first quarter on Sunday, things were looking dismal for the Cardinal, but they chipped away, eventually surging into the lead at the end of the third quarter by holding the Beavers to 6 points in the period. The Cardinal led for much of the way down the stretch, but they still needed to hold their breath as Oregon State missed a three-pointer at the buzzer. Stanford won 61-58. The two games showed that Oregon might be one of the best teams in the country, and that the Pac-12 boasts a bevy of elite teams.
Baylor is…really good
Baylor is currently ranked #2 in the AP Poll, but they earned the top spot in our Power Rankings last week. They gave us good reason to keep them in the #1 slot when they hosted #17 West Virginia and slammed the Mountaineers by 40 points. With a slate of very winnable Big 12 games ahead, the Bears could be on cruise-control towards getting a 1-seed in the NCAA tournament to defend their title.
A Lot of Chalk
There wasn’t a lot of exciting upsets in women’s basketball this weekend as, outside Oregon State’s loss, only one other ranked team lost on Sunday. That was #11 Kentucky, who dropped a tough road conference game to LSU, but that wasn’t exactly a ‘shock-the-world’ type of upset. After one of the most tumultuous weeks last week, which saw the top 3 teams in the country lose, this weekend lacked the upset appeal and resulted in a lot expected victories and big blowouts.
All Eyes On Oregon Next Week
While this week may have been a little underwhelming, next weekend promises another pair of great Pac-12 battles, with in-state rivals Oregon and Oregon State duking it out both on Friday and Sunday to headline next week’s slate. Another game worth watching will be #24 Tennessee at #4 UConn on Thursday, which has won four straight since their loss, albeit against all unranked competition. It will both hint at whether the Lady Vols are back, or whether UConn can deliver with a big ranked win.
How this women’s basketball season will turn out is pretty much anybody’s guess? For the first time in a while, there’s not one dominant team, but rather a group of favorites who all seem like viable options to be the last team standing. Last week, the top-3 teams in the AP Poll all lost, leaving the top of the rankings in disarray. I’m sure I’ll be less than successful, but I’ll try to sift through the madness of the regular season so far and give you my top 10 NCAA women’s basketball teams, plus a couple teams I think are very good, but not Top-10 material.
#10 – DePaul
Probably not the most popular pick at #10 as DePaul is ranked just 14th in the AP Poll and 15th in the coaches poll, but I really like DePaul’s offense and I think they can stay with anyone when their shooting game is hot. They are near the top of the country in 3-pointers made and 3pt percentage, as well as fourth in the country in points per game. They may not be the most well rounded team, but they’ve got a bevy of lethal shooters that are more than capable of turning a game on its head.
#9 – Arizona State
Again, the Sun Devils aren’t really a Top 10 team by their whole resume, but wow they are playing like one right now. They pushed #7 UCLA to the brink on the road, and they followed that up with a three-game winning streak, taking down #6 Oregon and ending #8 Oregon State’s undefeated season in the process. They struggled early, but the Sun Devils are quickly proving themselves capable of playing with the best.
#8 – UCLA
The Bruins rank 6th in RPI, and they’re the only undefeated team in the country. The toughest part of their schedule is yet to come so their spot at #8 indicates a respect for their results so far with some wary optimism about what’s ahead. They’ve been dominant in Pac-12 play, with two wins by at least 24 points, and a 12-point win over #21 Arizona.
#7 – Oregon
The Ducks were #2 and knocking on the doorstep of #1 following UConn’s loss to Baylor, but the Ducks turned around and were upset by Arizona State, sending them crashing out of the top 5. They’re #6 in the AP Poll, and they land #7 here. They still have a deep tourney run in them, but they’ll have to win the games they’re supposed to.
#6 – UConn
In our last women’s basketball post, we discussed whether UConn was still a dynasty, and we came to the conclusion that they are, but that does not mean they’re the best team this year. They’ve been dominant at times, but they’ve also shown some holes, including being unable to pull away from a pesky Memphis squad in their most recent AAC game. The Huskies have never lost a game in the AAC, but they didn’t look convincing last night, just one game removed from a 16-point home loss to Baylor. UConn is an elite team, but they’re sitting at #6 until they show a more consistent string of dominance.
#5 – Oregon State
The Beavers almost made it to these power rankings unscathed, but they fell victim to the wave of upsets as Arizona State took them down. Before that however, Oregon State beat Arizona on the road, handled Colorado easily, and stormed by Utah to start Pac-12 play. Prior to conference games, the Cowboys had won 12 straight, all by double digits.
#4 – Louisville
The Cardinals boast an extremely impressive resume already, and they are cruising in the ACC, posting a 4-0 record while barely breaking a sweat. Outside of a close road loss to Ohio State, Louisville has quality road wins over #11 Kentucky and #6 Oregon. They’re currently on an 8-game winning streak, a run that includes five road victories.
#3 – Stanford
It was a close call between Stanford and Louisville, but the west coast squad got the bid for the third spot. The Cardinal have a signature blowout victory in a 27-point victory over a quality Tennessee team, and they have dominated the Pac-12 to start the year, going 4-0 with their closest contest being a 14 point victory. They also beat #10 Mississippi State and #16 Gonzaga this year, but the Cardinal will have to eventually start proving themselves on the road, as they’ve played just four games away from home, losing one of them.
#2 – South Carolina
The Gamecocks are #1 in the AP Poll and #2 in the Coach’s poll, tussling for the top spot with Baylor. I gave the nod to Baylor, demoting South Carolina to #2 in the initial Power Rankings. South Carolina is third in the country in scoring margin, and they have quite simply dominated throughout the year. They have a road victory versus Maryland on their resume, and they’ve scored 90 or more points in six games, including four straight. They’ve beaten several ranked opponents in Arkansas and Kentucky, and Baylor, but their 14-point home loss to Indiana was hard to ignore.
#1 – Baylor
Baylor just ended UConn’s 98-game home winning streak, giving the Bears the premier win they needed the nab the top spot in the power rankings. The Baylor’s men team is ranked #2 in the AP Poll, giving Baylor probably the top basketball program in the country right now as a whole. The women’s team has given up the second least amount of points, scored the most, and subsequently, leads the country in scoring margin, having scored 100+ points a whopping four times already. Although they lost to South Carolina head to head, the Bears have won their ensuing games by 38.7 points per game, including the UConn victory. It’s a toss-up, but a gut feeling says to give the top spot to the Bears. We’ll see if they keep it through the next edition of power rankings.