While Louisville remains in the top spot this week, Stanford has been playing better than any other team in the country since the calendar turned to 2021. NC State hasn’t skipped a beat, UConn continues to come together and Texas A&M may be the most surprising team as we near mid-season.
While all of that may be true, is it possible that South Carolina or Baylor will be the favorite to win it all come March? In a season where literally every single game is up in the air on a daily basis, it is difficult to identify a clear favorite. While Louisville and Stanford could both fit that mold right now, there are a number of teams right on their heels.
In this week’s rankings, the Big Ten makes a big leap into the top 10, while Tennessee and Washington State, not only jump into the top 25, they find themselves securely and comfortably in.
Below is our updated top 25, as we get set for another great weekend of college basketball.
Women’s Top 25 Power Rankings
1. Louisville (10-0)
Jeff Walz has his team atop our rankings again. With the debacle that occurred with conference games postponed, the Cardinals picked up three non-conference games, defeating Northern Kentucky, UT-Martin and Bellarmine, before heading back into ACC play and notching a tight win over Virginia Tech and a convincing win over Clemson. Hailey Van Lith and Dana Evans continue to pace a high-scoring Cardinals team that has been equally as impressive on the defensive end at times this season. Louisville welcomes BC on Thursday, before entertaining No. 3 NC State on Sunday, in a huge ACC tilt. Previous: 1
2. Stanford (10-0)
Stanford has looked tremendously impressive all season long, but particularly over the past three weeks. Tara VanDerveer’s team has picked up three top-12 wins in that span, defeating UCLA and Arizona on the orad and Oregon. Haley Jones has been fantastic all season, highlighted by 18-point performances in wins over the Ducks and Wildcats. Kiana Williams has been solid at the point guard position, while Fran Belibi and newcomer Cameron Brink continue to put up consistently strong performances. This is the deepest team in the country. The Cardinal are No. 1 in the AP Poll, receiving all but one vote (NC State). They remain at No. 2 for us this week, but it’s extremely close. Stanford hits the road this weekend, as they get set to take on Utah and Colorado. Previous: 2
3. NC State (10-0)
Slow and steady could end up winning the race, as the Wolfpack are just silently going about their business, getting better every time out, and winning games. Their big win over South Carolina is still the biggest for any team in the country thus far this season and Wes Moore’s team will have another huge opportunity this weekend as they travel to Louisville to take on the No. 1 Cardinals. NC State hasn’t played since a 19-point win over BC on Jan. 3 and this Sunday’s game at Louisville will be its first since then. The Wolfpack have a star in Elissa Cunane, are experienced with the likes of Cunane, Kai Crutchfield and Kayla Jones among others and play well enough on both ends of the floor to beat anyone in the country. Sunday’s game should be fun. Previous: 3
4. South Carolina (8-1)
No. 4 almost seems too low for the Gamecocks, especially watching them defeat a very good and determined Kentucky team this weekend, but it’s hard to put them above any team in the top 3 right now. That said, Dawn Staley’s team should be one of the favorites to win it all. Aliyah Boston is a dominant force on both ends of the floor, particularly on the defensive end, as she is coming off of a win over the Wildcats in which she recorded 20 points, 12 rebounds and seven blocks. Zia Cooke is one of the top point guards in the country and junior Destanni Henderson has stepped up on multiple occasions this year as a player that Staley and her team can really rely on to score. I still believe that the Gamecocks are one of the best teams in the country and have the best guard-post duo in Cooke and Boston as well. The SEC is loaded this season and Staley’s team is right at the top. Previous: 4
5. UConn (7-0)
The Huskies are very good, but are also very young in key spots. Point guard is one of those spots. We all know how great Paige Beuckers can be. She could end up being one of the best players UConn has ever had and that list includes some of the all-time great basketball players. That said…THIS. WILL. TAKE. TIME. Christyn Williams, Evina Westbrook and Olivia Nelson-Ododa have played well and all, I believe, have another gear that they can go to, and the same goes for freshman Aaliyah Edwards. In watching UConn’s win over Providence last weekend, it’s easy to see this team has a long way to go, particularly on the defensive end, but I remain confident they will be there come March. I picked them to win it all in November knowing they may hit some bumps along the way. They have Villanova and Butler this week, before taking on top-20 newcomer Tennessee on the road. Previous: 6
6. Texas A&M (12-0)
Honestly, the Aggies could be higher than No. 6. Gary Blair’s team is playing extremely well right now. The Aggies have back-to-back wins over Kentucky and Arkansas, while also holding early season victories over Texas and DePaul. In fact, the Aggies may actually have the best collection of wins in the country so far. Aaliyah Wilson and N’dea Jones have been fantastic, while Ciera Johnson and Alexis Morris have stepped up as more than capable scorers. They will travel to LSU on Thursday before hosting Mississippi State in a big SEC matchup on Sunday. If they can win that game, it’s possible–not likely, but very possible–that Texas A&M could be undefeated heading into their regular-season finale against South Carolina. Previous: 9
7. Baylor (8-1)
Since suffering their lone loss to Arkansas in early December, the Bears have won six straight. While the Bears are in the midst of a winning streak, they are also in the midst of a string of cancellations and postponements. Three straight games have been called off, including a home tilt against UConn. NaLyssa Smith has been one of the best players in the country thus far, while DiJonai Carrington and Queen Egbo have also played really well as of late. The UConn game will not be made up, so the major tests for Baylor the rest of the way should come from Texas and West Virginia, but I have my eye on this Saturday’s contest against Iowa State, possibly the next best team in the conference. That said, Baylor is the best, and it doesn’t seem to be that close. Previous: 8
8. Maryland (9-1)
The Terrapins have slowly and quietly gotten themselves back into the top 10, following wins over Indiana, Michigan State and Purdue. One thing is for certain about this team: it can really score. The Terps are averaging 94.1 PPG and have five active players averaging double figures. Ashley Owusu is leading the way at 18.8 PPG, with Diamond Miller (17.5), Katie Benzan (15.1), Chloe Bibby (13.4), and Mimi Collins (10.5) right behind her. The lone loss for Brenda Frese’s team came against Missouri State in the second game of the season. While the Terrapins can fill it up offensively, they need to improve defensively. They have not been great on that end of the floor, giving up 76.8 PPG. That said, this team is coming together and the Big Ten seems to be a much stronger conference this season than in recent seasons. Previous: 12
9. Michigan (9-0)
Speaking of the Big Ten, Michigan may just be the most surprising team so far this season. The undefeated Wolverines, led by superstar junior Naz Hillmon, are off to a 4-0 start in the conference, including a 21-point victory over a strong Northwestern team. Hillmon has been absolutely terrific so far this season. She is averaging 25.7 PPG, to go along with 11.6 rebounds. Leigha Brown, averaging 19.7 PPG, has been an extremely valuable second scorer as well. They jump into the top 10 for now, but the one concern that still remains is that their schedule hasn’t been that challenging. That will change over the next week with games against Michigan State and Ohio State coming up. Previous: 16
10. UCLA (7-2)
I’ve said since November that for the Bruins to compete for a Pac 12 championship, a No. 2 seed and a chance at the Final Four, they need Michaela Onyenwere and Charisma Osborne to be, not just good, but prolific scorers. UCLA is a very strong defensive team and defense tends to travel well, so it will be in virtually every game. Both Onyenwere and Osborne are averaging over 17 PPG, which is going to be key to their success moving forward. Cori Close’s team has conference losses to Stanford and Arizona, but picked up a huge road win over Oregon last week when Onyenwere and Osborne combined for 55 of their team’s 73 points. I like where the Bruins are right now, with games against Stanford and Washington State looming. Previous: 13
|14. Ohio State||7-0||15|
|15. Mississippi State||8-2||14|
|22. Washington State||7-1||NR|
|25. South Dakota State||9-2||21|
First five out: Syracuse, Michigan State, Georgia, West Virginia and Iowa
Who fell out? UNC and Missouri State
Who entered? Tennessee and Washington State
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