We are a little over one week into the women's college basketball season, and so far, there haven't been many surprises. South Carolina, the nation's top team entering the season picked up three wins before being upset at home by NC State 54-46 Thursday. Outside of the Gamecocks, the top teams remain relatively unscathed, while some schools' seasons have come to a screeching halt due to COVID restrictions.
In the case of Stanford, it hasn't recorded any positive tests that have put a damper on their season, but it has had one game canceled and two more this weekend that are in limbo, due to the state of California not allowing games to take place. UConn has still yet to play a game at all.
We have seen mid-majors like Ohio and South Dakota State take down Notre Dame and Iowa State, respectively, and DePaul and Texas A&M put on an offensive show in a close win for the Aggies.
Some of the country's top freshmen like Hailey Van Lith (Louisville), Angel Reese (Maryland), Caitlin Clark (Iowa), and Te-Hina Paopao (Oregon), are just a few of the newcomers that have already begun to make a name for themselves with their early success.
There is a lot to look forward to over the next week, starting with Louisville and DePaul meeting Friday in the Jimmy V Classic in Uncasville, Connecticut's Bubbleville. South Carolina-Iowa State and Arkansas-Baylor also highlight a packed weekend, as teams get set to head into conference play.
Women's Top 25 Power Rankings
1. Louisville (2-0)
It didn't take long to have a new No. 1 team in our rankings, and here we are: welcome, Louisville! Louisville has looked very solid so far in two easy wins over South Missouri St. and Eastern Kentucky. Jeff Walz's team has yet to be challenged, but that changes Friday night, as the Cardinals travel to Bubbleville to take on a DePaul team that can really fill it up. Senior Dana Evans has been very solid in the early going, but it has been the play of the Cardinals two freshmen, Olivia Cochran and Haley Van Lith, that has the Louisville faithful excited for the future. Following a tilt with DePaul in the Jimmy V Classic, the Cardinals take on UT-Martin, before beginning ACC play against Duke on Wednesday. Previous: 3
2. Stanford (1-0)
While Stanford has only played one game so far this season, Tara Vanderveer's team was extremely impressive, posting a 68-point victory over Cal-Poly. Five Cardinal players scored in double figures in the win, led by Lexie Hull. Stanford has a terrific freshman of their own in Cameron Brink. The 6-foot-4 freshman notched 17 points and nine rebounds off the bench in her debut and is one of many incredibly talented freshmen to watch this season. The Cardinal have seen a few disruptions to their schedule already, due to both COVID situations with opposing schools, as well as the Santa Clara Public Health Department, which has temporarily postponed Cardinal home games. It is unclear what will happen with their upcoming home games at this time, but Vanderveer will certainly have her team focused as they picked up a non-conference road game against UNLV on Saturday. Previous: 4
3. NC State (3-0)
After winning the ACC Tournament championship last season, expectations were high for NC State. Wes Moore and the Wolfpack didn't take long to make sure the country takes notice, as they sprint out to a 3-0 record, including a huge 54-46 win over South Carolina, the No. 1 team in country. The Wolfpack are led by their 6-5 center Elissa Cunane, but have seen some tremendous balance so far, as seniors Kai Crutchfield and Kayla Jones have also been terrific. This is one of the more experienced teams in the country, and as I said in my preseason power rankings, they are Final Four-good. They have already proved that with a huge early season victory. The Wolfpack will host two more non-conference opponents before heading to Massachusetts to open up ACC play against an up-and-coming Boston College team. Previous: 9
4. Baylor (2-0)
Baylor survived a very difficult road test against USF, as it hung on for a 67-62 win. The Bears were not challenged in their opener, a 45-point win over Central Arkansas. Kim Mulkey has already seen how important both Didi Richards and Queen Egbo will be to her team's success. While junior NaLyssa Smith dropped 25 in their season-opening win, it was Egbo's 25-point, 11-rebound performance that helped guide the Bears to a tough win. Richards returned from a very scary spinal injury and, while she only accounted for four points, she played 30 minutes off of the bench. The health of Richards is huge for Mulkey's team as they travel to take on a tough Arkansas team on Sunday, before beginning conference play at West Virginia on Thursday. Previous: 5
5. South Carolina (3-1)
South Carolina challenged themselves more than any other team in the country over the course of the first week and walked away with a 3-1 record. Wins over South Dakota and Gonzaga were strong wins, the Gamecocks fell to NC State at home on Thursday evening. While sophomores Zia Cooke and Aliyah Boston make Dawn Staley's team go, it's been junior Destanni Henderson who has shown up big so far this season, including a 19-point, nine-rebound performance in the win over South Dakota. It doesn't get any easier for the Gamecocks, as they travel to Iowa State on Sunday. Previous: 1
6. UConn (0-0)
The Huskies have yet to play a game so far this season, as they have been sidelined since a positive COVID-19 case halted program activities on Nov. 23. A game against Quinnipiac was canceled, while their game at Seton Hall was postponed. UConn opens up on Dec. 12 against UMass-Lowell. Previous: 2
7. Arizona (1-0)
While the point differential in the Wildcats season-opening win over Northern Arizona is unlikely to wow anyone (13-point win), Arizona looked like a team that is going to compete for a Pac-12 championship. Cate Reese led the charge with a 21-point, 11-rebound performance, while preseason All-American Aari McDonald was everywhere for Adia Barnes and the Wildcats, finishing with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and six steals. The Wildcats take their 1-0 record right into conference play and open up with a very tough challenge in UCLA at home on Friday. Previous: 6
8. Mississippi State (2-0)
Mississippi State's two stars, Jessika Carter and Rickea Jackson, have run the show thus far for the Bulldogs, as they have combined for 72 points in two early season wins. The Bulldogs will have four more non-conference games, including a Saturday tilt against South Florida, before they open up SEC play at Georgia on New Year's Eve. It's likely that Mississippi State will head into that game at 6-0, as it looks to make noise in a very good SEC. Previous: 7
9. Oregon (2-0)
I have been a believer that this Oregon team is going to be a lot better, a lot faster, than many people think and they are off to a strong start. The Ducks have won their first two games by a combined 98 points. While their offense has been very good, as expected, their defense has looked extremely good. Kelly Graves has a team that can shoot the lights out, led by senior Erin Boley and junior transfer Taylor Mikesell. They have a group of freshmen, led by starting PG Te-Hina Paopao, that collectively, may be the best group of freshmen in the country, so this team is deep. The Ducks open up Pac-12 play this weekend, as they welcome Colorado on Friday and Utah on Sunday. Previous: 8
10. Kentucky (3-0)
Kentucky survived a brief scare from Kansas State on Thursday night to move to 3-0 and earn a spot in the top-10 this week. While the Wildcats have recorded relatively easy early season wins over Murray State, Belmont, and Kansas State, the challenges are coming, as Kentucky will take on two top-25 teams in Indiana and DePaul, before heading into their SEC opener against Arkansas on New Years Eve. Rhyne Howard, who many believe is the frontrunner for Player of the Year, was suspended by the team for their first two games, before returning against Kansas State. Howard will need to find her rhythm quickly, as the Wildcats get set to take on a really good Indiana team on Sunday. Previous: 11
|11. Texas A&M||3-0||13|
|16. Iowa State||2-1||12|
|21. Missouri State||2-1||22|
|22. Oregon State||2-0||23|
|23. Ohio State||2-0||25|
|25. North Carolina||4-0||24|
First five out: Texas, South Dakota, South Dakota St., Boston College, and Iowa
Who fell out? Notre Dame
Who entered? South Dakota