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. 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 10.
Bruins on the move
For a team that has never been past the Elite Eight and has only made it there twice, being ranked in the top eight in two of the last three seasons means that the program is setting new standards.
The UCLA women’s basketball team, with wins over the Arizona State Sun Devils and the No. 18 Arizona Wildcats last week, were able to surpass the No. 9 NC State Wolfpack and the No. 11 Florida State Seminoles for the No. 8 spot in the nation. The Texas A&M Aggies moved from No. 11 to No. 10.
Beating ASU and Arizona was good for the Bruins’ resume, but their biggest win this season was on the road at the No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers. The Bruins beat the Hoosiers by 10 points before narrowly beating the previously-ranked Sun Devils 68-66; their win over the Wildcats was by 12 points.
No major upsets or dominant performances by the Bruins, but No. 11 FSU lost an overtime thriller to unranked-Syracuse and NC State won two games against unranked teams. UCLA’s victory over previously-undefeated Arizona made the difference.
Three intriguing teams enter the rankings
South Dakota Coyotes
The Coyotes have received votes in every poll this season and entered the rankings for the first time on Dec. 16, at No. 25. Now they are up to No. 22 after an 104-61 blowout win over the Denver Pioneers that saw five South Dakota players reach double-figure scoring and three record double-doubles. Ciara Duffy (19 points, 11 rebounds), Hannah Sjerven (18 points, 12 rebounds) and Taylor Frederick (14 points, 10 rebounds) led the way.
The Wolverines blew out the Penn State Nittany Lions and their in-state rival Michigan State Spartans last week. Those wins allowed Michigan to reenter the rankings at No. 24. The sophomore duo of Amy Dilk and Naz Hillmon scored over 20 points apiece in the triumph. Dilk is still drawing comparisons to the Oregon Ducks’ Sabrina Ionescu. She has a long way to go to reach that level of stardom, but Michigan is hoping those comparisons continue.
The Tigers of the Ivy League received votes in both Weeks 8 and 9 and are now at No. 25 after an idle week. They were barely chosen over the Northwestern Wildcats, while the Rutgers Scarlet Knights weren’t too far behind. So Princeton (not Rutgers) will represent New Jersey in the national spotlight — for now. The Tigers are led by 6-foot-4 senior Bella Alarie, who is averaging 16.9 points per game.
Three teams drop out of the rankings (again)
The Miami Hurricanes, Minnesota Golden Gophers and Texas Longhorns were ranked No. 23 through No. 25 last week, in that order.
Miami can’t seem to stop the bleeding, with the number in the loss column continuing to rise. The Hurricanes’ losing streak is only two games but, with five total losses, the voters had to leave the Hurricanes out of the top 25. No team in the current top 25 has more than three losses. Miami was ranked as high as No. 16 this season but fell out of the rankings for Week 7 before reentering during Weeks 8 and 9.
The Hurricanes’ loss to the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets was frustrating because they were up 23-9 after the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets have one of the best defenses in the nation, but Miami still failed to take care of business and let that lead slip away. Hurricane star Beatrice Mompremier, playing through a foot injury, scored just nine points. Miami’s second loss of the week was more understandable seeing as it came against Florida State and Mompremier was out the whole game because of the injury.
Minnesota Golden Gophers
Minnesota started the season ranked (at No. 23) but fell out of the rankings for eight weeks before returning at No. 24. The Gophers didn’t stay there long, though — they are out of the rankings again because of losses to the Ohio State Buckeyes and Nebraska Cornhuskers (both unranked). Minnesota is 1-2 in Big Ten play after going 9-9 and barely missing the NCAA Tournament last year. If the Gophers want to get into the tournament this year, they need to turn things around before a .500 conference mark becomes out of reach.
The Longhorns started the season at No. 15 and weren’t even receiving votes by Week 4 because of losses to the South Florida Bulls and Arizona. Wins over the No. 23 Tennessee Lady Volunteers and No. 5 Stanford Cardinal put Texas back in the rankings but the Longhorns could not defend home court in their Big 12 opener against the TCU Horned Frogs, falling 65-63. The loss knocked the Longhorns out of the rankings again.
Maryland Terrapins stumble
Of the original top 14 to begin this season, Maryland has by far fallen the farthest. The other 13 teams are still somewhere in the top 14, while Maryland is now No. 17 after starting as the fourth-ranked team in that talented group. The Terps’ Big Ten foe, No. 12 Indiana, is the only top-14 team that wasn’t ranked that high in the preseason.
It’s hard to tell where the Terps will go from here. They came out flat in their first game of the season against the No. 4 South Carolina Gamecocks and haven’t regained their mojo of the preseason despite blowing out quite a few lesser teams. Their loss to Northwestern on Dec. 31 by 23 points is the reason for the five-spot fall.