Big Ten Teams Continue to Surge
It was a pretty quiet week in the women’s college basketball world with six of the top 10 teams in the Associated Press Top 25 poll not moving in a week lacking an eye-opening upset.
The biggest riser is Middle Tennessee as the Blue Raiders went from being the No. 2 team in the “others receiving votes” category to No. 23 in this week’s poll. Duke fell from 13th to 16th following a loss to rival North Carolina.
Texas Tech’s win over visiting Texas proved to be enough for the underachieving Longhorns to fall out of the top 25. Oregon State had an upset as well, taking down rival Oregon behind 16 points from Talia Von Oelhoffen and 15 off the bench by Timea Gardner.
There are 12 games this week between teams in the top 25 so poll voters should have a much more challenging time voting in the next set of rankings. One of those games that didn’t make that list of 12 ranked showdowns is Thursday’s UConn-Tennessee game since the Lady Vols are just outside of the top 25. Still, expect ESPN to make a strong push to promote the matchup between the teams that dominated the sport for years.
Looking at the Las Vegas NCAAW odds, South Carolina (+125) is favored in the odds to win the national title. Stanford is next at +250 followed by UConn at +650.
Setting the Pace
Aliyah Boston, listed by the sportsbook as one of the favorites to win the national player of the year, set a South Carolina program record with her 73rd career double-double. She passed the mark set by Sheila Foster.
— South Carolina Women’s Basketball (@GamecockWBB) January 23, 2023
Boston has five straight double-doubles as the Gamecocks continue to be the unanimous No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll.
Boston isn’t asked to score like some of the returning All-Americans, as her season-high mark in field goal attempts is just 13. However, she is one of the main reasons why South Carolina is such a hard team to score against.
Speaking of setting records, Maddy Siegrist became the all-time leading scorer in Villanova basketball history. Siegrist had 23 points in a win at Creighton to give her 2,414 career points. Shelly Pennefather held the program record of 2,408 points since graduating in 1987. Siegrist has scored at least 20 points in every game this season. She is the leading scorer among NCAA Division I women’s basketball players, averaging 28.5 points.
Siegrist will lead Villanova, ranked 21st in the latest Associated Press poll, against No. 5 UConn on Sunday.
Texas Teams Tumbling
In every Associated Press women’s basketball poll, at least one team from the state of Texas made it into the Top 25.
That streak came to an end as Texas dropped out of the Top 25 after a mid-week loss to Texas Tech. Baylor didn’t receive any votes as the Bears have lost three of their last four games.
Texas does face Oklahoma, the current Big 12 leaders, on Wednesday and Oklahoma State on Saturday. Both games are at home so there is a chance for the Longhorns to return to the Top 25.
When the season began, Texas was ranked third and Baylor 18th in the AP poll. The Longhorns and Bears are a combined 18-4 at home and just 4-4 on the road this season.
Fudd Hurt Again
The last thing a snake-bitten UConn team needed was another injury. However, leading scorer Azzi Fudd is back on the sidelines.
Fudd played in just two games before reinjuring her knee. She had 14 points against St. John’s in her first game back after missing eight games. She was injured in a recent win against Georgetown, and UConn did not provide a timetable for Fudd to return to the court.
Fudd is averaging 17.9 points. However, if you take out the two games that she failed to finish, that number rises to 22.6.
The Huskies just announced the arrival of Jana El Alfy, a 6-foot-4 center from Egypt. She is expected to practice and travel with the team. However, the school said in a release that she is not expected to play this season.
Joining the Party
With Oregon and Texas falling out of the Top 25, there are two new teams in the Associated Press poll.
Middle Tennessee comes in at No. 23 thanks to a 14-game winning streak. The last loss came against Texas Tech in the Las Vegas Invitational.
Florida State, led by the nation’s top-scoring freshman in Ta’Niya Latson, is now ranked 24th. That ranking will be put to the test with the next two games against No. 7 Notre Dame and No. 16 Duke.
Team of the Week
Veterans Cameron Brink and Haley Jones were a bit off when Stanford lost its first conference game of the season. When the Cardinal met up with fellow top-10 team Utah, they made sure that history did not repeat.
They each had 25 points and combined for 26 rebounds in the 74-62 victory.
Jones followed that up with 11 points and 18 rebounds in a win over Colorado as Stanford is in a familiar spot, alone in first place in the Pac-12 standings.
Player of the Week
Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana
Indiana had just one game this week and the senior forward stole the show with 30 points (on 12-of-20 shooting), 10 rebounds, six steals, two blocks and just one turnover in 35 minutes in an 83-72 win at Illinois.
It was the second 30-point game for Holmes and the sixth time in the last seven games when she topped 20 points.
Game of the Week
Ohio State vs Indiana
Date, time (TV): Thursday, Jan. 26, 8:30 p.m. ET
This will be a showcase game for the Big Ten Network with two of the nation’s top six teams squaring off.
Despite playing the last 14 games without second-leading scorer Jacy Sheldon, Ohio State is 19-0 heading into Monday’s showdown with Iowa.
Indiana is just a game out of first place in the Big Ten standings and the Hoosiers are 11-0 at home.
Yarden Garzon is quietly putting together one of the top freshman seasons in the country. She is averaging 12.4 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. She recently came three assists and two rebounds shy of her first collegiate triple-double.
With Iowa and Maryland tied for 10th, there are four top-10 teams in the Big Ten. No other conference has more than two teams in the top 10. Michigan isn’t far behind at No. 13.