A big weekend in women's college basketball saw UCLA deal Stanford its second loss of the season, which was enough to catapult UCLA into the top five of our power rankings this week. It also saw our top two teams, Louisville and South Carolina, survive upset bids by Wake Forest and LSU, respectively, on Sunday.
Tennessee is back in our top 25 power rankings after a nice win over Kentucky, following a tough, close loss at home to UConn just a few days prior. Texas is also back after upsetting Iowa State on the road in convincing fashion.
I'm still very high on Iowa State, but the Cyclones' results have just been too inconsistent so far this year, so they remain just out of the top 25 power rankings this week.
Ohio State and Georgia make the biggest leaps this week after the Buckeyes defeated previously undefeated Michigan and then Maryland, while the Bulldogs took down Arkansas.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 continues to significantly impact the season, with Michigan being the most recent team to pause team activities. The pandemic will continue to impact schools and programs in a variety of ways, but the NCAA has seemingly made it clear that there will be a tournament this year, and conference tournaments are just over a month away.
We have another great week and weekend in women's college basketball coming up and there is shaping up to be even more parity this season than originally expected.
Below is our updated top 25 power rankings, as we get set for another great weekend of college basketball.
Women's Top 25 Power Rankings
1. Louisville (15-0)
Louisville remains in the top spot for the eighth consecutive week. While that holds true, the distance between the Cardinals and South Carolina is narrowing by the day. Louisville picked up two nice wins last week, including a 13-point home victory over Syracuse and a narrow two-point win on the road against Wake Forest. The Wake Forest game was worrisome, but Dana Evans proved why she is one of the best players in the country, coming up big down the stretch for Jeff Walz's team and finishing with 25 points. Hailey Van Lith was quiet in what proved to be a defensive-minded contest, while fellow freshman Olivia Cochran put up another double-double.The big game comes Sunday, when Louisville takes on No. 3 NC State. Previous: 1
2. South Carolina (12-1)
I firmly believe that the Gamecocks are playing better than any team in the country right now, with the exception of possibly UCLA. The distance between them and Louisville for the No. 1 spot is razor thin. Dawn Staley's team also survived a scare Sunday against LSU, as the Gamecocks defeated the Tigers on the road by four. Aliyah Boston, my preseason pick for national player of the year, has been fantastic all season, but particularly over the last three weeks. Boston recorded 26 points and 16 rebounds in a big win over Arkansas, before recording a triple-double in a win over Georgia and a 20-point, 10-rebound performance vs. LSU. Boston is doing everything on both ends of the floor right now and, while she may not win player of the year, she may be the most important player in the country for her team right now. Previous: 2
3. NC State (11-0)
The Wolfpack took the court again this week for the first time since Jan. 3, and defeated a strong Virginia Tech team by just two points. NC State was playing without its star post Elissa Cunane and Jakia Brown-Turner and Kai Crutchfield led the way, combining for 43 points. Wes Moore's team will travel to Virginia Tech on Thursday in what should be another great game. Cunane is a big-time impact player and while she should return for this one, the Wolfpack need to make sure they aren't looking ahead to Sunday's matchup against Louisville. If the Wolfpack get past this week unscathed, they may just run the table in the regular season. This is a tough, experienced group that will look to be playing their best in March. Previous: 3
4. UCLA (9-2)
The Bruins make a big jump in the rankings this week all the way up to No. 4, following their road win over No. 8 Stanford. The Bruins now hold wins over Oregon, Washington State and Stanford in the new calendar year of 2021. Charisma Osborne has been sensational for Cori Close's team, finishing with 24 points and nine rebounds in its win over the Cardinal. Michaela Onyenwere has also been fantastic all season, as she recorded another double-double, finishing with 16 points and 10 rebounds. This team can really defend and when Osborne and Onyenwere are putting up points, they are very difficult to match up against and even tougher to beat. Senior Natalie Chou is also showing that she can be a reliable third option. The Bruins are playing with confidence as they welcome Arizona and Arizona State this weekend. Previous: 9
5. UConn (10-0)
UConn recorded another really good win last week, defeating Tennessee on the road, in a game that they really needed to get. Paige Bueckers didn't have the best of games offensively, but she showed her greatness, impacting the game in various other ways, and hitting the big 3-pointer at the end to seal the win for the Huskies. Bueckers missed this weekend's game, a win over Georgetown, with an ankle injury. Christyn Williams came up big for Geno Auriemma's team in the win over Tennessee, particularly down the stretch, finishing with a team-high 20 points. The Huskies picked up a game against Arkansas this Thursday, as they get set for back-to-back road tests. Following their trip to No. 20 Arkansas, they will travel to take on No. 15 DePaul. Previous: 5
6. Arizona (11-2)
The Wildcats made a big move into the top 10 last week, and remain stable at No. 6 again this week. Following an easy victory over Utah, the Wildcats game against Colorado was postponed. We will learn even more about Arizona following this weekend, as it travels to take on USC and No. 4 UCLA. Defense is going to be the key for this team. I picked Arizona to reach the Final Four this year and it was because I believe they have an elite defense. Aari McDonald is one of the best five players in the country and can carry this team on both ends of the floor. In their two losses, the Wildcats game up over 70 points both times. In their 11 wins, they gave up over 70 points just once. They need to keep teams, particularly the high scoring teams, under 70. Previous: 6
7. Texas A&M (14-1)
The Aggies continue to roll along. Despite their lone loss to LSU on the road, Gary Blair's team has just kept on winning. They rebounded nicely from their loss to the Tigers with strong wins over Mississippi State and Missouri. One major advantage that this team will have when they get into tournament play is their experience. Seniors N'dea Jones and Kayla Wells have been impactful in a number of ways this season and have put up consistently strong numbers. With wins over DePaul, Texas, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Kentucky, all in the top 25 power rankings, this Aggies team is battle tested. That will be critical come March. Previous: 7
8. Stanford (13-2)
The Cardinal have lost two of their last four, falling to Colorado on the road and No. 4 UCLA at home, which has dropped them six spots in the last two weeks. Do I think they are the eighth best team in the country? No. Are the teams above them playing better than the Cardinal right now? Yes. Two losses by Tara VanDerveer's team have been by a combined 11 points, so there isn't much need to worry at this point. That said, my worry for them offensively is I'm not sure who their go-to scorer is. They are one of the deepest teams in the country, with five-to-seven players capable of scoring double digits every game, but who takes the last shot? Who can you rely on to go get 30 points in a big game? My guess would be Haley Jones, but that's my concern with this team right now. Defensively, they remain strong and certainly will be a really difficult out in March because of that. Previous: 4
9. Oregon (11-3)
The Ducks had lost three of their last four games before sweeping Washington and Washington State this weekend. These were two wins that they desperately needed, as they look to make a run for a conference championship. While Oregon is good, and certainly capable of winning the conference title again, they need to play much better on the offensive end to do so. It has been their defense that has been most impressive this year, especially over the past two weeks. The Ducks are 1-2 when giving up more than 65 points this season, and are 10-1 when giving up 65 points or less. Remember, this is a really young team. Te-Hina Paopao, a freshman, has been starting all season at point guard, and fellow freshman Angela Dugalic got her first start this weekend as well. I still believe that Oregon will live and die by the 3-pointer, but defending like it has lately will offer up a lot more room for error. Previous: 12
10. Ohio State (9-1)
The Buckeyes are in the top 10 following a big win over Michigan in what was an absolute classic. Ohio State followed that up with a two-point win over Maryland at home. Sophomore guards Madison Greene and Jacy Sheldon have been playing extremely well for the Buckeyes, who following a tough road loss to Nebraska, have finally picked up the key wins they needed. Things don't get any easier for Ohio State, as it travels to take on Indiana on Thursday and Northwestern on Sunday. Indiana is playing very well as of late and Northwestern needs a big win. This top 10 ranking could be short lived, but it's extremely well deserved. Previous: 17
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First five out: Iowa State, Syracuse, Northwestern, Missouri State and South Dakota
Who fell out? Iowa State, Syracuse and Northwestern
Who entered? Tennessee, West Virginia and Texas