HARTFORD, Connecticut – Quite a lot of outlets – our included – wrote last week about the lack of quality games in the first week of the collegiate basketball season. Male student basketball. Because that’s not how things are on the female side. And on Sunday, they demonstrated it with runway lights.
Do you want excitement, frustration, fierce competition in November? Look for where women’s games are being broadcast. There have been so many “upsets” (defined in this case as lower ranked teams beating higher ranked teams) because the top teams in the country are actually playing each other.
The big winners of the week were the coaches who scheduled a talented non-conference player to play just a few games of the season. Thanks to them for realizing how useful this is not only for their teams, but for the sport in general.
“There are fewer good teams. And many more good teams,” UConn (3-0) head coach Geno Auriemma said on Sunday. “Whenever you start doing that, the next thing that happens is good teams start beating other good teams. So if you’re in the top 10 but you have flaws, they will show up.”
The season started two weeks ago, and we’ve already seen two pretty much the undisputed best teams in the country meet in the regular series. No. 1 South Carolina caused ABC to go into overtime and took advantage of two serious errors by No. 2 Stanford to win, 76–71.
Since 2000, women have had 34 first- and second-place team meetings, while men have only nine meetings of the same teams, according to the College Polls Archive. Of the women’s games, 21 were deliberately scheduled out-of-conference, compared to six for the men. That’s about one per season versus once every four years.
“I think what you see in women’s basketball is that teams are not afraid to get into serious competition,” Stanford Head Coach Tara VanDerveer. said before the game via The Mercury News. “Everyone plays with each other and I think it’s great.”
Sunday’s list was phenomenal from start to finish. Then no. 5 UConn processed then-no. 10 NC State, 91-69, early afternoon. When it ended, the still unanimous number one and defending champion of South Carolina returned to Stanford.
“That’s what women’s basketball is all about,” South Carolina head coach Don Staley said. “This game only helps both teams.”
Meanwhile, then – no. 19 Maryland received by then – no. 17 Baylor, 73-68, and then No. 4 Iowa outlived a strong Belmont team, 73-64.
This is something that male coaches should pay more attention to. Everyone loves March, but there’s no reason this excitement can’t be found in November and December.
Loser: Associated Press Top 25 Poll
The Associated Press top 25 poll got some results this weekend, and that’s a good thing! We have to want it and respect it for what it is: good basketball from a wide range of rising programs.
“That’s a great sign for women’s basketball,” Oriemma said. “I think now you can’t just go to the gym and roll it out there and go, yeah, well, we are in the top 10 team in the country and we can just roll over. [you] because you are not ranked. I think those days are gone. I don’t think anyone is good enough to do this. And those other teams are too good now.
Listen, let’s be clear. The people who vote in this poll are not the losers here. It’s an incredibly difficult job to rank the best teams from over 350 programs at the Division I level. It’s not a professional league where a maximum of 32 teams play the same opponents. There is a lot of subjectivity that will only become clearer with time.
And even then it will not be crystal clear, because only a small group of teams have similar schedules. No. 12 LSU (5-0) currently leads the nation, averaging 108.8 points per game. Incredible stuff until you see him playing in Bellarmine, Mississippi Valley State, Western Carolina, Houston Christian and the Northwest. Bless their hearts.
UConn beat top 10 contenders in Texas and NC State in a row, but even that raises questions. Texas, still without point guard Rory Harmon, have lost three games in a row now, and the wolf pack is a far cry from last year’s group that almost made it to the Final Four.
Loser: Whatever the last 30 seconds of the Stanford-South Carolina game are called
Roller coaster? Meltdown? Chaos? Messy? The last 28.8 seconds of overtime was a rough way to end another stellar showdown between Stanford and South Carolina.
Stanford fouled two and won when Victoria Saxton missed both. But Letizia Amijere hit back and South Carolina held the ball. The Cardinal didn’t foul this time and once again got exactly what he wanted when Agnes Emma-Nnopu stripped Camilla Cardoso. As a result, the clock was left with a hefty 10 seconds and a slight deficit of two points.
It wasn’t long. Stanford bounced back for a five-second entry violation, fouled with 5.6 seconds left, and survived two more missed free throws by Brea Beal. Sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen, who replaced Cameron Brink after the junior fouled, provided the rebound. But she called a timeout that the Cardinal didn’t have, effectively ending the game by giving South Carolina two free throws and possession.
“It was very frustrating to get the lead we had and not finish the job,” VanDerveer said.
It was an exciting game, the first of four on ABC this season. And it was a great, tight overtime in which Hayley Jones pinned Brink, a Bree Hall three-pointer extended the lead to four and one of Brink’s four blocks. Let’s record the last seconds for the second week of the season.
Winner: Kiki Jefferson, James Madison
All the usual suspects had a big party this weekend. UConn’s Azzi Fudd (32 points again), Iowa’s Caitlin Clark (33 points), LSU’s Angel Reese (23 points, 19 rebounds), Maryland’s Diamond Miller (32 points), Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles (13 points, 11 assists, 7 rebounds). ) and Villanova’s Maddie Siegrist (41 points, 16 rebounds).
Kiki Jefferson James Madison had an equally strong day. The senior guard recorded a double-double with 30 points and 10 rebounds in a 76-65 loss to No. 13 North Carolina. She also added five assists and hit four of the season’s top 10 3-pointers.
The Tar Heels (4-0), who voted third in the ACC, were upset early on. James Madison (3-2) led most of the first half, including 34-30 at halftime, and was within five with three minutes to go.
Jefferson has scored at least 20 points in all five games and is averaging 22.8 points, eight rebounds and 1.5 steals. She landed 62.75% of her shots and 11 out of 19 (57.9%) from behind the arc. At the beginning of the season, Jefferson was shooting 34% of 3.
What to watch this week
A complete guide to watching Thanksgiving tournaments can be found here. Some highlights:
No. 8 North Carolina vs. No. 18 Oregon, 5:00 pm ET on ESPNU – North Carolina is the favorite in the ACC, while Oregon is a different team than expected after Sedona Prince had surgery.
DePaul vs. No. 14 Maryland, 11:00 AM ET – DePaul’s sophomore Anisa Morrow is averaging 30.3 points per game in the Division I.
Belmont vs. No. 23 Villanova, 1:30 pm ET — Two strong programs show up early. Villanova Sr. Siegrist is averaging 29 points and 13.3 rebounds in four games.
#3 UConn vs. Duke, 6:00 pm ET is UConn and Duke.
No. 9 Iowa vs. Oregon State, 8:30 pm ET – The Hawkeyes face early hurdles despite Clarke scoring 26.8 points per game.
Princeton, Number 19, Texas, 2:00 pm ET. Texas needs Harmon to level the ship. If it doesn’t happen before the Tigers, it could be another mark in the wrong column.
AP Top 25 Poll (as of November 21)
1. South Carolina (4-0)
2. Stanford (5-1)
3. Yukonn (3-0)
4. Ohio State (4-0)
5. Iowa State (4-0)
6. Indiana (5-0)
7. Notre Dame (4-0)
8. North Carolina (4-0)
9. Iowa (4-1)
10. Louisville (4-1)
11. Virginia Tech (3–0)
12. LSU (5-0)
13. North Carolina State (4-1)
14. Maryland (4-1)
15. Arizona (4-0)
16. Creighton (4-0)
17. Utah (4-0)
18. Oregon (3-0)
19. Texas (1-3)
20. UCLA (5-0)
21. Baylor (3-1)
22. Michigan (4-0)
23t. Tennessee (2-3)
23t. Villanova (4-0)
25. Kansas State (5-0)
Others who received votes: Oklahoma 69, Marquette 65, Gonzaga 33, Kansas 11, Drake 8, Florida South 5, Duke 5, Ole Miss 4, South Dakota State 4, Princeton 3, Nebraska 1, Georgia 1