Women’s Power Rankings: Hokies, Hawkeyes rise after Champ Week runs

The final edition of the 2022-2023 Sportzshala Women’s Basketball Rankings is here, and the South Carolina SEC Tournament champion is finishing where she started. The Gamecocks were the #1 team in the Power Rankings this season.

In total this season, our rankings at one point had 28 teams, with seven of them—South Carolina, Stanford, UCLA, Iowa, Notre Dame, Indiana, and LSU—making the list each week.

These final rankings give us a lot to think about and discuss. We reiterate that this is slightly different from Bracketology or the AP Top 25 survey; The power rating tries to reflect the weekly picture of who is popular and why. And this week it was influenced by the convincing results of the conference tournaments.

Virginia Tech and Washington State won the ACC and Pac-12 titles for the first time, respectively. Iowa took over in Minneapolis and won their second consecutive Big Ten title. The Hokies and Hawkeyes made the biggest jump in the Power Rankings this week, moving up five positions each. Washington State didn’t make the top 16, but the Cougars are Sportzshala’s Team of the Week.

The last tournament of the Power 5 conference is the Big 12 this week in Kansas City. And shortly after that champion is decided on Sunday, we’ll know the NCAA field when the bracket is revealed (8:00 pm ET, Sportzshala/Sportzshala App).

Player of the Week: Caitlin Clark, Iowa

The junior quarterback receives this award for the third time this season. This came after a powerful Big Ten tournament in which Clark had 74 points, 30 assists and 23 rebounds in three Hawkeye wins. She had the first triple-double in Big Ten championship game history and was the tournament’s MVP for the second straight season.

Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said about Clark’s 30-point, 17-assist, 10-rebound game that beat his team in the Finals: ball screens, and she’s reading our coverage and throwing perfect passes to the right person.

“And that makes it really hard to defend. She sees the field and makes the right decisions as well as anyone I have seen, and maybe ever, in college basketball.”

Team of the Week: Washington State

For most of the Cougars’ existence, the Cougars’ programs were irrelevant. They made one NCAA appearance in their first 38 tournaments. Then coach Cami Ethridge took over in 2018, and after winning their first Pac-12 tournament championship on Sunday, the Cougars will now be playing in their third straight NCAA tournament.

Bringing in international players and then teaching their style has been a big part of Ethridge’s success. A trip to Pullman, Washington is no longer an automatic win.

However, who foresaw the appearance of this title? The seventh-place Cougars beat 10-seed California, 2nd in Utah, 3rd in Colorado, and 5th at UCLA to win the championship. They have never beaten the giant Pac-12 at Stanford (0-72 all time) so far, but UCLA cleared that hurdle in the semi-finals.

In Sunday’s 65-61 win over the Bruins, New Zealand’s Charlise Leger-Walker and Rwanda’s Bella Murekatete combined for 44 points on 15-of-22 field goals.

Win of the Week: Tennessee 69, LSU 67

It may seem odd not to pick one of the conference tournament championship games, but it was a big win for the Lady Vols program, which really needed it. Tennessee led the game 22-10, with no wins against ranked teams. Then in the SEC semi-finals, the Lady Vols were a full 17 points behind the LSU team, who had already beaten them in the regular season.

The Vols fought back to win with 26 points and 10 rebounds from Ricky Jackson and 17 and 10 from Jordan Horston. Tennessee then lost in the final to top seed South Carolina, but the Lady Vols had already helped their NCAA Tournament seed.

Coach of the Week: Lynn Roberts, Rebecca Tillett, St. Louis

The Billiken made their first NCAA Tournament appearance in the program’s history, advancing through the Atlantic 10. They were the No. 3 seed, but their 17-17 record is misleading. They have won 11 of their last 12 games, taking their second win of the season against the top seeded UMass in the A-10 title game.

Iowa’s Clarke wasn’t the only one to hit a triple-double to secure the championship at Sunday’s tournament; Julia Martinez of St. Louis also had 17 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as St. Louis won in overtime, 91–85.

Tillet is in his first season at SLU after four years at Longwood; she led the Lancers to their first NCAA tournament last year. Tillett is only the second coach in DI history to automatically win an NCAA spot in different leagues for multiple years in a row.

After a playing career with William & Mary, Tillet coached at a high school in Virginia for ten years before going to college. She took over Longwood after being a mate in the Navy.

Strength Rating

1. Gamecox of South Carolina (32-0)
Previous rating:
This week: No games

The SEC tournament title eluded the Gamecocks last season, but that didn’t happen this year. They’ve won their three tournament games convincingly and now have time to rest before heading into NCAA tournament play as defending champions. Guard Kirra Fletcher missed the SEC Finals after twisting her ankle in the semi-finals. But coach Don Staley said Fletcher is expected to return to the NCAA Tournament as the Gamecocks, who have not lost since March 6, 2022, continue on their path to a perfect season.

2. Virginia Tech Hawkeyes (27-4)
Previous rating:
This week: No games

The Hokies ACC tournament trophy was historic—a first on the program—and arguably propelled them into the No. 1 seed in the NCAA. ACC Player of the Year Elizabeth Keatley scored 20 points in a 75–67 Virginia Tech title win over Louisville. But security guard Georgia Cupid eclipsed all Hoki. She scored 25 points against Louisville and set the record for most three-pointers in the ACC Tournament with 14. She averaged 21.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game during three contests and was named the tournament MVP. The Hawks, who earned the highest ranking of the season, have won 11 games in a row.

3. Iowa Hawkeyes (26-6)
Previous rating:
This week: No games

Iowa lost a place in the power rankings; this is the Hawkeyes’ high point, and they dropped to 16th on January 2. This was after a loss in Illinois which saw them fall to 11-4. Since then, Iowa has only lost twice – in Indiana and Maryland – but has also won both. The Hawkeyes’ starting five began their 86th game together on Sunday, smashing Ohio State 105-72 to capture the program’s fifth Big Ten Tournament title. As good as Clarke and Monica Chinano were, fellow starters Gabby Marshall, Kate Martin and McKenna Warnock also played a major role in the Hawkeyes tournament.

4. Indiana Hoosiers (27-3)
Previous rating:
This week: No games

You can’t blame the Hoosiers for feeling grumpy and serpentine right now, even though they still have their Big Ten title in the regular season and are predicted to be the #1 seed. But they had to endure Clark’s Iowa winning lap on February 26 after an 86–85 loss to the Hawkeyes in the last second. They then beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Tournament and looked well en route to the championship game, edging Ohio State by 24 points in the semi-finals. However, it slipped away with yet another embarrassing loss for Indiana. However, the Hoosiers have plenty of time to regroup and recharge for the NCAA Tournament, and they’re not too far behind in the power rankings.

5. Y. Conn Huskies (28-5)
Previous rating:
This week: vs. Villanova in Monday’s Big East Championship Game (Uncasville, Conn.)

Coach Geno Auriemma used one of his usual motivational tactics, starting with the Huskies last Monday when the team beat the hapless Xavier in the regular season finals. It looks to have worked (it usually does) as they thrashed Big East tournament rivals Georgetown and Marquette to reach the final where they will try to beat Villanova for the third time this season. But the biggest news of all is that defender Azzi Fudd has returned to the squad after spending most of this season with injuries; she had 10 points against Georgetown and four against Marquette. Aaliyah Edwards had a combined 39 points and 25 rebounds in two games. Things are improving at the right time for UConn.

6. Maryland Terrapins (25-6)
Previous rating:
This week: No games

The Turps and Hawks played the most exciting game of the Big Ten tournament in the semi-finals, and Maryland was left to mourn Iowa’s 15 three-pointers in an 89–84 loss. This hurt after they defeated the Hawkeyes by 28 points in Maryland 11 days earlier. However, the Terps enter the NCAA Tournament with the belief that when they are in the game, they can be a threat to any team.

7. LSU Tigers (28-2)
Previous rating:
This week: No games

The Tigers are down four places after losing a 17-point lead against Tennessee in the semi-finals of the SEC tournament. It cost LSU a rematch against South Carolina, who had previously been the only team to beat the Tigers this season. On February 12, they lost in South Carolina by 24 points, so maybe things didn’t go so differently. But LSU wanted a chance. Whatever the case, the Tigers are heading to the NCAA Tournament and critics are still grumbling about their weak non-conference schedule. But LSU is confident it can succeed.

8. Stanford Cardinal (28–5)
Previous rating:
This week: No games

Will the Cardinal play as powerful a machine in the NCAA Tournament as everyone expected? Or as the team that surprised most people by losing five games and not even reaching the Pac-12 tournament final? A semi-final loss to UCLA in Las Vegas followed a loss in the regular season finals in Utah. Cameron Brink continues to put up big numbers, but there is some inconsistency in the rest of the Cardinal.

9. Utah Utes (25-4)
Previous rating:


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