Women’s college basketball power rankings: No. 1 South Carolina, moving Ohio State
South Carolina and Stanford appeared to be on a collision course for the women’s basketball national championship last season before UConn knocked off the Cardinal in the semifinals. Game Cooks and the Cardinals have started the season at 1-2 — holding the same spots in our first power rankings for the 2022-23 season — and we’ll see the superpowers clash on Sunday (3D We will be at Noon ET, ABC). ).
Before that, there are two big early contests Monday, as Indiana faces Tennessee (6 p.m. ET, ESPN2), and Texas travels to play at UConn.
The Lady Vols fell to Ohio State in their first game, the biggest mover since the preseason ESPN Way-Too-Early Top 25 (No. 17) and ranked in the top 10 of the first power rankings.
The Buckeyes, Big Ten champions and Sweet 16 team last season, showed their defensive prowess against the Lady Wells. We’ll see how he prepares Tennessee to face another Big Ten title contender in Indiana.
Two quick points: The ESPN Women’s College Basketball Power Rankings are different from the polls, as we try to provide a weekly snapshot of the big picture. So the movement of teams — or lack thereof — may not always match what’s happening in the Top 25 polls. And with so many players, teams, coaches and games deserving of recognition, we also try to avoid receiving multiple awards in one week at school whenever possible.
Haley Van Leith and Mikasa Robinson put the game out of reach as Louisville earned a hard-fought win over Belmont.
The young guard has a lot to do with Louisville’s success this season. But he embraces it. Van Leith is off to a strong start, averaging 21.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.7 rebounds. Assists — including 25 points in Sunday’s 75-70 win at Belmont.
An Elite Eight team last year, the Bluejays are off to a hot start with road wins over South Dakota State and South Dakota. Junior guard Lauren Jensen — who hit a 3-pointer last season in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Creighton, Iowa — totaled 42 points, six assists and five rebounds in the wins. On Tuesday, things will be rocking at Creighton’s DJ Sokol Arena as fellow top-25 Nebraska makes the short trip from Lincoln to Omaha.
Congratulations to the Buckeyes and Lady Vols for opening the season against each other to knock off the cupcake parade. Ohio State fans rushed the field and celebrated. ESPN’s Charlie Cram noted in the preseason that Ohio State has one of the best backcourts in the country, which led to the Buckeyes getting 16 steals.
After the Hokies beat Bucknell 67-41 on Friday, Brooks said in his news conference, “I don’t have much, man. … We didn’t play well.” But on Saturday, he tweeted: “Classic example of high expectations. Sometimes the optics aren’t realistic. We think we played bad, watched the whole game film with the team and played really well. Performance on D, just “It wasn’t made as a title. Too many hits. They did what they asked! I apologized to them. I love this team!”
Here at Power Rankings Headquarters, we applaud Brooks for doing so. And we respectfully ask all coaches to avoid phrases like “we weren’t very good,” “we have a lot of work to do,” and “I need to do a better job of coaching” to at least The second week of the season
Previous ranking refers to position in the ESPN Preseason Way-Too-Early Top 25.
1. South Carolina Game Cooks (2-0)
Previous rank: 1
This week: at Clemson (Thursday), at Stanford (Sunday)
The Gamecocks received their new rings for last season’s NCAA championship and SEC regular season title. Then they took care of East Tennessee State, who was tied at 70 points. South Carolina won 81-56 against a stronger opponent in Maryland. Coach Dawn Staley has credited her team’s leadership with having to avoid any wobbles at Clemson before traveling to Stanford.
Kiki Iriafen made all seven of his field goal attempts to score a game-high 15 points in Stanford’s win over Pacific.
2. Stanford Cardinal (4-0)
Previous rank: 2
This week: vs. Cal Poly (Wednesday), vs. South Carolina (Sunday)
Once again, the Cardinal’s bench is so deep you can hardly see the bottom of it. Fifteen players have seen action in all four games. Along with very familiar faces like Haley Jones and Cameron Brink, the young Cardinal players are also impressive. Stanford freshman sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen leads the way with 12.8 points per game. Freshman guard Talana Lepolo averaged 6.5 assists and made her first start Sunday at Portland.
3. Texas Longhorns (1-0)
Previous rank: 3
This week: at UConn (Monday), vs. Marquette (Saturday)
When the Longhorns opened with a 68-45 win over Louisiana, Vic Schaefer was in the “coaches overreacted after one game” category. He was very unhappy with Texas’ 25 games and said (more than once) that he needed to coach better. But point guard Rory Harmon was the biggest culprit due to a toe injury. We’ll see if Harmon is available for UConn.
4. UConn Huskies (1-0)
Previous rank: 6
This week: vs. Texas (Monday), vs. NC State (Sunday)
We’re rolling the dice a bit here and putting the Huskies at No. 4 after a 59-point win over Northeastern. We won’t know until the Huskies deserve it after they face two other top 10 teams. The matchup with the Wolfpack came after UConn’s season ended at NC State in an Elite 8 Instant Classic in March.
Iowa beats Evansville behind big performance from Kaitlin Clark.
5. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0)
Previous rank: 5
This week: at Kansas State (Thursday), vs. Belmont (Sunday)
Drake took Iowa to overtime on Sunday before falling 92-86. A close game against a longtime in-state rival doesn’t come as much of a surprise to the Hawkeyes, though it was a lot closer than they wanted. Monica Sinau had 36 points and 11 rebounds and Caitlin Clark had 28 points and 9 assists. The question Iowa still has to consistently answer is how much will the dynamic duo contribute?
6. Louisville Cardinals (3-0)
Previous rank: 7
This week: vs. Gonzaga (Saturday)
An early-season trip to Belmont was a way for coach Jeff Walls to test his team, as the Bruins gave the Cardinals the fight he expected. Van Leeth is off to a great start. Graduate transfer guards Chrislyn Carr and Morgan Jones are in the starting lineup and playing big roles, which is exactly what Louisville needs from them.
7. Iowa State Cyclones (2-0)
Previous rank: 9
This week: at Northern Iowa (Wednesday), vs. Columbia (Sunday)
With the likes of Ashley Jones, Lexi Donarski and Emily Ryan returning, we already knew a lot about the Cyclones. The first two games show just how much of a 6-footer Stephanie Soares can be. He is averaging 11.5 points and 11.0 rebounds so far. If he’s even in those numbers all season, it would be a huge boost for Iowa State.
8. Ohio State Buckeyes (2-0)
Previous rank: 17
This week: at Ohio (Thursday), vs. McNeese (Sunday)
Jacey Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell were excellent in beating Tennessee, and the perimeter game will determine the Buckeyes’ fate. Sheldon already has 19 steals — setting a school record with 11 on Sunday in beating Boston College — and Ohio State has 64 steals in two games. But also keep an eye on senior forward Rebecca Mikolasikova, who is averaging 17.0 points and 9.0 rebounds. His numbers last season were 9.4 and 5.0.
9. Tennessee Lady Wales (1-1)
Previous rank: 4
This week: Against Indiana (Monday), against Rutgers (Saturday)
Tennessee fans were understandably a little scared after the opening loss to Ohio State because the Lady Vols’ hopes are so high this season. But it was an understandable setback, given the first season on the road against a very opportunistic defensive team. Jordan Hurston’s injury was the biggest concern in the win against UMass, but he is listed as day-to-day. Indiana will be another test.
Olivia Miles makes a beautiful container for the basket
10. Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0)
Previous rank: 8
This week: at Northwestern (Wednesday), vs. Ball State (Sunday)
Fun family fact: The Irish have had at least one Mabry sister in the lineup every season, but one since 2012-13. Michaela (2012-16) is now an assistant at Notre Dame, Marina (2015-19) plays for the Dallas Wings and Dara Mabry (2020-present) led the Irish with 16 points in Saturday’s win over California. Stats player Olivia Miles is averaging 15.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 8.0 assists and 4.0 steals so far.
11. NC State Wolfpack (3-0)
Previous rank: 11
This week: vs. Charlotte (Wednesday), at UConn (Sunday)
Some household names from the past few years are gone, including Elisa Coonan. But so far, the Wolfpack is the same: strong defense. Insults were spread between several players. Guard Diamond Johnson leads the way at 13.0 PPG. While missing that Elite Eight last season won’t make up for it, NC State has another shot at UConn.
12. Indiana Hoosiers (2-0)
Previous rank: 10
This week: at Tennessee (Monday), vs. Bowling Green (Thursday), vs. Quinnipiac (Sunday)
After easy wins over Vermont and UMass Lowell, the Hoosiers faced the Lady Vols in early action on Monday. We’re used to seeing Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes lead Indiana. But freshman Yarden Garzon and transfers Sarah Scalia (from Minnesota) and Sydney Parrish (from Oregon) are already making an impact as well.
13. North Carolina Tar Heels (2-0)
Previous rank: 12
This week: vs. South Carolina State (Wednesday), at James Madison (Sunday)
As is the case with most teams in Week 1, winning against too many opponents still doesn’t tell us much about the Tar Heels. But North Carolina has a strong junior class, led so far by Kennedy Todd-Williams (17.0 PPG) and Alyssa Ostby (16.5 PPG). Things get even more interesting for the Tar Heels with Thanksgiving week play at the Phil Knight Invitational in Portland, Oregon.
14. LSU Tigers (3-0)
Previous rank: 14
This week: vs. Houston Christian (Wednesday), vs. Northwestern State (Sunday)
LSU was ranked as the best 2023 recruiting class by ESPN last week, and the Tigers won their three games by a combined score of 343-125. Valuable transfer Angel Reyes (from Maryland) is averaging 21.3 points and 14.3 rebounds. Things are going great for the Tigers — but they don’t face a Power 5 team until Dec. 18 against Oregon State.
15. Oklahoma Sooners (2-0)
Previous rank: 16
This week: at BYU (Tuesday), at Utah (Wednesday), vs UT Arlington (Sunday)
Fifth-year player Maddie Williams again leads a Sooners offense that we know will score plenty of points. Oklahoma has 23 3-pointers in two games. The Sooners averaged 9.3 treys per contest last season. Although it’s early, it’s a big week for Oklahoma, which will compete against three teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season, including back-to-back games at Utah.
16. Virginia Tech Hokies (2-0)
Previous rank: 13
This week: vs. South Carolina State (Monday)
ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Keightley is averaging a double-double (20.0 points, 11.0 rebounds) as expected. With guards like Georgia Amore and transfer Ashley Owosso (from Maryland) to get Keatley the ball, the Hokies will be impressive offensively. Cayla King (20.5 PPG) and Boston College transfer Taylor Soule (10.0 PPG) are also off to good starts.
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