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 top teams and their resumes in Week 7:
Not much changed in the rankings this week — now-No. 6 Louisville Cardinals and now-No. 7 Baylor Lady Bears switched places, while the South Dakota Jackrabbits replaced the Miami Hurricanes at No. 25. So, let’s first take a look at a team with arguably the best resume in the nation: the No. 4 Oregon State Beavers.
Oregon State (9-0) has defeated No. 16 DePaul, No. 20 Missouri State and Miami. The No. 1 Stanford Cardinal (9-0) possess a similar set of accomplishments, having defeated No. 15 Mississippi State, No. 17 Gonzaga and previously-ranked Syracuse. The No. 2 Huskies join the Beavers and the Cardinal as a top-seven team that is undefeated, but UConn lacks a signature win.
It’s been mostly blowout victories for Oregon State, including the Beavers’ wins over DePaul (98-77) and Miami (75-53). The Beavers defeated Missouri State by 11. At times last year and at the beginning of the current season, Oregon State has been a Final Four sleeper pick, and rightfully so given the teams they beat in a very competitive Pac-12 last year. And the “sleeper” part of it already has started to fade. Some analysts have contemplated the potential of three one-seeds coming from the Pac-12 (Stanford, Oregon and Oregon State). There is a lot of basketball yet to be played. But as other top-10 teams have stumbled around them, the Beavers have been left with aspirations that are pretty much equal to their rival, the No. 3 Oregon Ducks, and that would mean winning a national championship.
Stanford settling in
The Cardinal entered the season as the No. 3 team in the nation, four spots ahead of then-No. 7 Oregon State. Although undefeated, they haven’t dominated their competition like a typical top-3 team until recently. In their fourth game this season, the Gonzaga Bulldogs gave the Cardinal a scare by forcing overtime. After that, Stanford beat the Buffalo Bulls by 19 points but got by the California Baptist Lancers by just five. Gonzaga is now ranked and Buffalo is 7-2, sitting atop the Mid-American Conference’s East Division.
Since then, the Cardinal have faced tougher competition — Syracuse Orange, Mississippi State Bulldogs and Ohio State Buckeyes — played better in those contests. A five-point win over then-No. 10 Mississippi State is nothing to sneeze at and Stanford was able to beat the Orange and Buckeyes by 18 and 19 points, respectively. Defeating Ohio State soundly was particularly important for Stanford, seeing that the Buckeyes were coming off a huge win over then-No. 2 Louisville. Ohio State is a solid, young team that had a ton of momentum going and Stanford shut down any possibility of a No. 1/No. 2 takedown for the Buckeyes.
Oregon (8-1) and the No. 5 South Carolina Gamecocks (10-1) round out the current top 5. The Ducks, who entered the season at No. 1, have the least impressive resume of the five teams, while South Carolina has huge wins over No. 7 Baylor and No. 13 Maryland. Going against the Gamecocks is their lost to No. 12 Indiana (who were then ranked 17th).
The No. 6 Cardinals deservedly moved up a spot after a resume win over the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats. Both teams looked really good overall. It was a low-scoring game (67-66) but still may have been the best ESPN-televised game this season in terms of quality play and excitement. It had the feel of an NCAA Tournament game and both teams look like they will be contenders in March.
A couple scares
The No. 8 Florida State Seminoles nearly lost to the 6-4 St. John’s Red Storm of the Big East. And the No. 20 Missouri State Bears nearly lost to an in-state rival, the Missouri Tigers, who are 3-8 this season after losing Sophie Cunningham to graduation. The Seminoles have an impressive resume win over No. 11 Texas A&M but a loss to St. John’s would have dragged them down pretty far. Meanwhile, the Bears could have fallen out of the rankings if you consider Missouri State’s struggles this year.
South Dakota replaces Miami at No. 25
The South Dakota Coyotes took down the Mount Marty Lancers of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) and the Montana Grizzlies by 71 and 32 points, respectively. Meanwhile, the former-No. 25 Miami Hurricanes remained idle. In last week’s poll analysis we mentioned that South Dakota — based on a handful of solid wins and Miami’s three losses — already had a case to be in the rankings ahead of the Hurricanes. Senior guard Ciara Duffy leads the Coyotes with 16.4 points per game and tied a season high with 23 against Montana.
South Dakota made it to the NCAA Tournament for the second time as a DI school in 2019. Here are highlights from an upset win they took from the Iowa State Cyclones last year: