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NCAAW AP Poll (Week 6): NC State joins top 10 but Louisville, Mississippi State fall considerably

The NC State Wolfpack picked up a quality win over the Maryland Terrapins. The Louisville Cardinals and Mississippi State Bulldogs were not as lucky, with losses to unranked opponents. All saw significant changes in their AP Poll rankings.

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 23 Div I Women’s Championship - First Round - Maine v NC State
Kai Crutchfield leads NC State with 20 made 3-pointers this season.
Photo by Michael Berg/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s always fun to wake up on Monday and know that the new AP rankings are coming out soon. In the past couple of seasons, there hasn’t been a single dominant program, like Tennessee and UConn, of years past. That means your team, no matter where they are in the top 25, could become a contender in the NCAA Tournament come March.

Here’s an analysis of some of the teams that have risen — and fallen — in Week 6:

Notably on the rise

NC State (9-0) climbs from No. 13 to No. 9

The NC State Wolfpack and the Maryland Terrapins both had weak non-conference slates last year, especially NC State, which started its season 21-0 but didn’t have many signature wins. This season, the Wolfpack’s schedule is still a bit easier than Maryland’s, but, again, both teams’ schedules are on the weaker side for such highly-ranked teams. On Dec. 5, the Wolfpack took care of business with a 66-59 win over the Terps in their only big test of non-conference play. With that win, the previously-No. 13 Wolfpack secured a signature win entering ACC play and switched places with Maryland in the rankings to enter the top 10.

Against the Terps, Kai Crutchfield led NC State with 19 points and five 3-pointers, while Elissa Cunane and Kayla Jones each contributed a point-rebound double-double. Crutchfield scored five straight points late in the fourth to help the Wolfpack pull away. That run included a 3-point dagger over 6-foot-5 Maryland center Shakira Austin. The Wolfpack only played one game last week, so that shot gave the team a four-spot rise.

Indiana (8-1) climbs from No. 14 to No. 12

The Indiana Hoosiers are up two spots after beating then-No. 21 Miami Hurricanes and the North Florida Ospreys last week. The Hoosiers beat Miami by 13 points and the Ospreys by 27. Losses by Maryland and Mississippi State — previously at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively — allowed Indiana to climb to No. 12. The Hoosiers are now the top-ranked Big Ten team, one spot ahead of the now-No. 13 Terps. The Hoosiers entered the season ranked at No. 24 and now have cut that ranking in half. Indiana’s only loss so far was to No. 6 Baylor. To balance that, the Hoosiers have quality wins over Miami and No. 5 South Carolina.

Indiana was without injured sophomore standout Grace Berger during both games last week but hope to have her back on the court when the team faces the Butler Bulldogs on Wednesday. After Butler, it’s the Youngstown State Penguins on Sunday and then a showdown with No. 10 UCLA Bruins on Dec. 22.

West Virginia (6-1) climbs from unranked to No. 22

The West Virginia Mountaineers have bounced in and out of the rankings. They rejoin the top 25 this week after upsetting then-No. 10 Mississippi State in a hard-fought battle. West Virginia started the season receiving votes, rose to No. 23 and fell unranked one again following a loss to Creighton on Nov. 28.

Freshman guard Kirsten Deans led West Virginia against the Bulldogs with 17 points. She was 3-of-4 from distance and 6-of-6 from the free-throw line. Deans averages 8.6 points per game off the bench, while junior guard Kysre Gondrezick leads the team with 18.7 points — tied for 43rd in the nation. West Virginia still has some resume-boosting opportunities before Big 12 play starts. The Mountaineers face the No. 19 Michigan State Spartans on Dec. 21 and the formerly-ranked Syracuse Orange on Dec. 22.

Notably in downward slide

Louisville (9-1) slides from No. 2 to No. 7

The Louisville Cardinals knew they would fall after their loss to unranked Ohio State and they wound up dropping five spots to No. 7. This is understandable because none of the teams ahead of them have a loss as bad as the Cardinals’ to the Buckeyes; none have multiple losses. On the other hand, the Cardinals stayed ahead of a trio of undefeated teams from spots eight to 10 — Florida State, NC State and UCLA — thanks to their win over Oregon, which still means a lot. The Ducks remain at No. 3 after blowing out South Dakota State.

Against Ohio State, the Cardinals failed to contain Kierstan Bell in the third quarter. The freshman scored eight of the Buckeyes’ 19 points in that frame to help Ohio State to a three-point lead entering the fourth. Dana Evans led Louisville in scoring but her 18-point performance and a double-double from Bionca Dunham were not enough to keep the Cardinals rolling.

Louisville defeated the Northern Kentucky Norse 85-57 last week and will get a shot at another in-state rival, the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats, this upcoming Sunday.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (8-2) slide from No. 10 to No. 15

The Mississippi State Bulldogs, who lost Teaira McCowan and Anriel Howard to graduation, came into the season with slightly lower expectations after coming close to winning a national title multiple times in the past few years. This season, they started at No. 10 and finally have budged from that spot. Unfortunately for them, it was a decline not an increase; the team’s loss to West Virginia put them five spots lower. It was Mississippi State’s second loss of the season. The Bulldogs’ first loss, at the hands of No. 1 Stanford on Nov. 30, didn’t change their standing. Although the loss to the Cardinal came in a close game, the Bulldogs are still on a two-game losing streak. Vic Schaefer’s crew will look to bounce back with three games remaining before the start of SEC play.

Miami (5-3) slides from No. 21 to No. 25

The Miami Hurricanes came into the season at No. 18 and climbed as high as No. 16 before falling three spots, two spots and four spots in the past three polls, respectively. The Hurricanes are led by a true star in Beatrice Mompremier, who is averaging 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. But the team as a whole needs to improve if the Hurricanes want to stop the free fall. Miami is the only team in the top 25 with more than two losses, though the team has yet to lose to an unranked team. But the Hurricanes don’t have any quality wins to their credit, either.

The South Dakota Coyotes — effectively No. 26 with their 46 voting points — may have been a better pick for the final spot in the rankings. The Coyotes have just one loss, to No. 20 Missouri State. They also defeated Ohio State in a win that seems like a much bigger deal now.