Coming into the season, we asked if Stanford, Maryland or NC State (then No. 3, 4 and 5) could win the national championship, or if South Carolina and UConn (then No. 1 and 2) were prohibitive favorites. We knew Maryland was loaded, but it seemed that South Carolina and UConn were just a notch above. Now, it’s still November and the Terrapins have already moved ahead of UConn in the AP rankings and into the No. 2 spot.
Of course, they haven’t played the Huskies head to head, but UConn looked human in a seven-point win over South Florida and then lost to No. 1 South Carolina by 16 on Monday. Meanwhile, the Terps took care of business by dominating each of their first five contests of the season and then held on to defeat No. 6 Baylor after a missed three to tie near the buzzer on Sunday. Would they have liked to beat Baylor by more than three? Yes. But they were up more comfortably before a late, desperation run by the Bears and were missing their second-best player in Diamond Miller during the stretches where Baylor came back. They were also missing the best 3-point shooter in the nation in Katie Benzan (illness) for the duration of the contest. So, all in all, Maryland is looking like a deserving No. 2 team, though there is a long season to go.
UConn has fallen to No. 3, while teams four through eight have remained the same in the rankings released Tuesday (a date late because of the 1 v. 2 matchup between South Carolina and UConn on Monday).
The biggest risers this week are of course the Tennessee Lady Volunteers, who upset the then-No. 12 Texas Longhorns and the South Florida Bulls, who took down the then-No. 9 Oregon Ducks. The Lady Vols are up five spots to No. 11 and the Bulls are up five spots to No. 18.
Tennessee surprised a lot of people by defeating a Texas team that had just upset Stanford. It was especially surprising given how much the Lady Vols’ offense had been struggling entering the game. Tennessee was given a scare by Southern Illinois in its opener and then beat Central Florida and South Florida in ugly wins. But it managed a season-high 74 points against the Longhorns with great statistical performances coming from Jordan Horston and Tamari Key.
Polling in the right direction. pic.twitter.com/sRK8WH610X— Lady Vol Basketball (@LadyVol_Hoops) November 23, 2021
South Florida also received a scare in its opener, only defeating UT Rio Grande Valley by seven. However, it has been better recently, giving UConn a great game as mentioned and then defeating the Ducks even though that was against a team that was missing Nyara Sabally and Te-Hina Paopao.
Texas, whose resume is still strengthened by the Stanford win, only fell two spots to No. 14. Oregon, on the other hand, fell six spots to No. 15. The other big fall was experienced by the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets: from No. 18 to receiving votes after they were upset by the Auburn Tigers, who were picked to finish 13th out of 14 teams in the SEC. FGCU moved into the rankings at No. 25 as a result of the Yellow Jackets’ plummet.