Just Two Undefeated, Two Winless Teams Remain
The early part of the week is lacking a bit in terms of women’s basketball compelling matchups. However, that will certainly change with some enticing showdowns late in the week. Just four teams remained in the same spots in the Associated Press Top 25 poll this week. No. 1 South Carolina and No. 5 UConn lead the list as the Gamecock are 21-0 while UConn has won 13 games in a row.
Thursday’s game between No. 8 Maryland and No. 6 Iowa and Friday’s huge Pac-12 showdown featuring No. 22 Arizona and No. 14 UCLA sets the stage for what should be an action-packed Sunday. Top-ranked South Carolina plays at UConn, No. 16 Duke is at No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 8 Ohio State plays at No. 10 Maryland.
There are just two undefeated teams remaining (South Carolina and LSU), and after Chicago State won a pair of games at Hartford, that leaves the Hawks and St. Peter’s as the only winless teams at the Division I level.
Looking at the women’s college basketball betting lines, South Carolina (+160) is favored in the odds to win the national title. Stanford is next at +400 followed by UConn at +600.
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South Carolina remains the unanimous No. 1 team in the Associated Press Top 25 poll with good reason. However, with the past 14 games against unranked teams, the defending national champions have been flying a bit under the radar. That is about to change. After meeting Kentucky on Thursday, the Gamecocks head north to face the fifth-ranked UConn Huskies. A week later comes the most anticipated home game of the season when undefeated LSU makes its way to Columbia.
Twelve different South Carolina players are averaging at least 10 minutes per game. Some of that is a result of just five of those players out there for all 21 games.
Aliyah Boston, listed by the Las Vegas odds as one of the national player of the year front-runners, has double-doubles in six straight games. Leading scorer Zia Cooke had her streak of double-digit scoring games snapped at 12 as she managed just six points in a win at Alabama on Sunday. Bree Hall is coming off an 18-point effort in a win over Alabama, and if she continues to produce like that, watch out.
Locked it down and lit it up … career game from @breezyhalll today! pic.twitter.com/4k55DEJLMC
— South Carolina Women’s Basketball (@GamecockWBB) January 30, 2023
Heading in the Wrong Direction
No team took a bigger tumble in the national rankings than Ohio State.
The Buckeyes dropped three games last week beginning with a nine-point loss at home to Iowa, which was followed by a 78-65 defeat at Indiana. Both the Hawkeyes and Hoosiers were top-10 teams. However, falling at home to unranked Purdue was hard to defend.
The Buckeyes are looking to rediscover their shooting touch from the perimeter as Ohio State was 14 of 68 on 3-pointers during the three-game losing streak.
Ohio State came into last week ranked second in the polls but fell to No. 10 in the Associated Press women’s basketball poll.
UCLA dropped six spots to No. 14, Michigan went from 13th to No. 18 and Oklahoma moved from 14th to 20th.
Huge Big Ten Showdown
While Indiana and Ohio State attracted most of the attention among Big Ten teams this season, the top game this week in the conference will take place in Maryland when the eighth-ranked Terrapins travel to meet No. 6 Iowa on Thursday night.
Diamond Miller has 13 straight double-digit scoring games to lead Maryland while Iowa’s Caitlin Clark is second nationally in points and assists per game.
Iowa is a half-game out of first place in the Big Ten standings while Maryland is 1½ games in back of first-place Indiana. The Terrapins begin the week listed by the sportsbook as a 16½-point favorite against Penn State on Monday.
Maryland has won four games in a row and Iowa has won six straight. They are a combined 7-4 against ranked teams and 27-4 against unranked squads.
There was a time when the entire women’s basketball world stopped what they were doing when Tennessee and UConn met.
There was a 16-year run when either UConn or Tennessee won the national title 12 times and they met in the title game four times.
UConn is holding up its end of the bargain as the No. 5-ranked team despite not having former national player of the year Paige Bueckers all season and being without leading scorer Azzi Fudd for 13 of the first 22 games. However, Tennessee is unranked despite being undefeated in the SEC.
There was plenty of hype leading into Thursday’s matchup. However, UConn’s 84-67 win won’t be listed among the best or more compelling games played this season.
Team of the Week
- Purdue Boilermakers
What a week it was for Purdue as the Boilermakers went on the road to upset nationally ranked Illinois 62-52 as Janae Terry had a double-double. Abbey Ellis then scored 26 points in a stunning 73-65 win over Ohio State.
Since dropping back-to-back games to Penn State and Michigan, the Boilermakers are 4-1.
They won those two games despite leading scorer Lashee Petree finishing with seven points on 3-of-8 shooting. Ellis led the way, averaging 21 points per game.
Player of the Week
- Caitlin Clark, Iowa Hawkeyes
Clark’s week began with a triple-double in a win over then-No. 2 Ohio State. She had 28 points, 10 rebounds, 15 assists and two blocks in the 83-72 victory.
She came an assist shy of a second straight triple-double with 33 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists in a hard-earned 80-76 win over visiting Nebraska.
Clark has two triple-doubles and five straight double-doubles this season.
Game of the Week
- South Carolina Gamecocks vs UConn Huskies
- Date, time (TV): Sunday, Feb. 5, Noon p.m. ET (FOX)
This will be the first meeting since South Carolina topped UConn to win the national championship in April.
Aaliyah Edwards figures to be the only starter from UConn in the program’s first loss in a national championship game to get into the contest. Bueckers is out for the season and Fudd is currently sidelined while Christyn Williams and Olivia Nelson-Ododa are playing professionally.
Boston and Cooke, who each had 11 points in the title game, are back to lead South Carolina.
Depth will be on the side of the Gamecocks as UConn has been limited to seven available players on multiple occasions. Something to consider for those who bet online: UConn figures to be a rare home underdog in this matchup.