Women’s Power Rankings: Pac-12 teams, Maryland show their teeth

The last week of ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC women’s basketball regular season games brought huge crowds, historic wins and unforgettable shots. This is also our penultimate Sportzshala strength ranking for the 2022–23 season. And we had a lot of moves after a busy week, including Colorado’s debut at the end of the season.

Weekend games for Iowa and Iowa State drew over 26,000 fans; On Sunday, LSU had only standing room; and on Saturday, Utah had its biggest crowd in 30 years as it won part of its first Pac-12 championship.

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark, with a three-point shot for first place in Indiana, will play the Hawkeyes fan loop, as will the winner of Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Keatley against North Carolina for the Hawkeyes fans.

After losing and close to winning last week, UConn is down five spots, but that’s more of a reflection of other teams having big wins. The Huskies are still in first place in the upcoming Big East tournament and are expected to make another push in the Women’s Final Four despite injury-fueled depth issues.

Despite all the drama, the reigning South Carolina champion remained above the fray and maintained a flawless record. Texas has taken the upper hand in the Big 12, which ends its regular season this week, with the other Power Five leagues heading into conference tournament play.

Player of the Week: Elizabeth Keatley, Virginia Tech Hokies.

The Hawks ended the regular season on an eight-game winning streak, led by center Keatley. She broke all records in the turnaround jumper who led the Tar Heels 61-59 on Thursday with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

She then scored a season-high 29 points on Sunday, adding 11 rebounds, as Virginia Tech beat Georgia Tech 65–52. In two games, Keatley left the field 22 of 34 (64.7%).

Team of the Week: Maryland Terrapins

It’s a testament to coach Brenda Frese’s ability to motivate and execute her style of play that, despite staff turnover, her terps keep going. She lost four full-time players and one part-time player last season with the Sweet 16 (23–9), including top scorer and rebounder Angel Reese to LSU.

But Maryland is still heading into the Big Ten tournament with a 24-5 record and a dangerous No. 3 seed, with just two losses to Big Ten seed Indiana and Iowa, both Nos. 1 and 2, this calendar year. He had two odd losses to DePaul in November and a 23-point home loss to Nebraska in December. But both are far away in the rearview mirror. The 28-point victory over Iowa on Tuesday showed once again how frighteningly good the terps are.

Win of the Week: Iowa Hawkeyes 86, Indiana Hoosers 85

That honor could go to Utah, Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Maryland, Texas, or St. John’s… they all deserve it. But how can Iowa surpass Indiana in sheer excitement and spectacle?

It was a magical Sunday in Iowa City, Iowa when Hawkeyes fans arrived early in the morning to take part in the Sportzshala GameDay celebration and stay in the intense competition that ended with Clark’s dramatic dagger. Nothing was at stake, but the Big Ten regular season champions Hoosiers were still playing heartily, and we got a preview of the Big Ten Tournament Finals this coming Sunday.

Of course, Maryland and other teams have a lot to say about this. But if the 3rd round of Hoosiers vs. Hawkeyes, no one wants to miss it.

Coach of the Week: Lynn Roberts, Utah Yutes

At the beginning of this season, no one thought that Stanford would have to share the Pac-12 title in the regular season. But it is so. Thanks to Utes’ victory over the Cardinal on Saturday, both teams ended the conference with a score of 15-3. It was Utah’s second victory in 33 games against Stanford and was won in front of 9,611 fans in Salt Lake City, the most attended team since 1993.

It is also the first Pac-12 championship for Utah, which joined the league in 2011. Roberts took over Utes in 2015 after spending nine years as a coach at the Pacific. Her team struggled in the 2020–21 season heavily impacted by COVID-19 with a 5–16 record. He then improved to 21–12 in the 2021–22 season but lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. In Thursday’s NCAA report of the top 16 seeds, the Utes were projected as the No. 1 seed. Their best NCAA seed to date is the No. 5. It’s been a big season for Roberts and is likely to garner several national coaches of the year votes.

Strength Rating

1. Gamecox of South Carolina (29-0)
Previous rating:
This week: No. 1 seed at the SEC tournament in Greenville, South Carolina.

The Gamecocks went undefeated under coach Don Staley for the third time in the SEC regular season, with victories last week in Tennessee and at home against Georgia. Now they don’t have to leave the state again to get into the Women’s Final Four. The SEC tournament is taking place in Greenville, as is the NCAA region, which is predicted to be ranked first overall. They will also play the first NCAA races at home in Columbia. However, this team does not get ahead of itself, which is part of its success. The Gamecocks look back on last year’s Kentucky game-winning shot that cost them the SEC tournament title. They want to return this championship.

2. Indiana Hoosiers (26-2)
Previous rating:
This week: No. 1 seed at the Big Ten tournament in Minneapolis

A last-second loss in Iowa on Sunday hurt because the Hoosiers are competitors but didn’t ultimately affect their Big Ten or NCAA tournament seeding. In fact, a professional team in Indiana’s place would probably just rest. But that’s not the case in college, and the Hoosiers played hard. They have time to reflect on how they defended not only in the final play but throughout the game as Iowa has scored more points than any other opponent against the Hoosiers this season. A team as smart and defensively experienced as Indiana can only benefit from the lesson. The program’s only Big Ten tournament title came in 2002, so this group would like to add this trophy to their regular season championship.

3. LSU Tigers (27-1)
Previous rating:
This week: No. 2 seed at the SEC Tournament

No team irritates fans across the country more than LSU due to the Tigers’ constantly-cited “cupcake” schedule outside of conferences. In addition, the SEC has not been considered as strong as usual this season, without many characteristic non-conference victories, with the exception of South Carolina’s wins.

However, with the exception of a 24-point loss to the Gamecocks on the road on February 12, the Tigers have won every game, including last week against Vanderbilt and Mississippi State. LSU drew a record number of viewers at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center compared to the last one on Sunday (15,721). The Tigers can now get a second chance against South Carolina in the SEC tournament.

4. Maryland Terrapins (24-5)
Previous rating:
This week: 3rd place in the Big Ten Tournament

In last week’s power rating, I mentioned that the terps were saying, “Hey, don’t forget about us.” Their victories over Iowa and Ohio State have made them my Sportzshala Team of the Week and made their statement even stronger. What also stands out is that, as good as star Diamond Miller is, last week’s leading scorers were reserve Brin Alexander against the Hawkeyes and Abby Meyers against the Buckeyes. Maryland has many ways to win, and the terps are coming into the Big Ten tournament as strong contenders.

5. Utah Yutes (24-3)
Previous rating:
This week: No. 2 seed at the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas

The Utes had an amazing week with victories over California and Stanford, giving them a share of the Pac-12 title. After falling on the road in Arizona last week, it was a particularly satisfying way for Yutes to end the regular season. Sophomore quarterback Gianna Nipkens scored a season-high 28 points against Stanford, while young forward Alyssa Pealy scored a combined 40 points over two wins.

6. Stanford Cardinal (27-4)
Previous rating:
This week: #1 seed at the Pac-12 tournament

The Cardinal nearly lost his regular-season Pac-12 title during a perilous trip to the league’s mountain schools last week. Travel delays due to winter weather did some damage, as did Colorado and Utah, who won 84–78, forcing Stanford to share their 26th conference regular season title.

Cardinal’s offensive issues continue to arise – it took Cardinal two OTs to reach 70 against Buffs – but their defense is still very good. They will need it in the hunt for the title of the 16th Pac-12 tournament (the event started in 2002).

7. Virginia Tech Hawkeyes (24-4)
Previous rating:
This week: No. 3 seed at the ACC Tournament in Greensboro, NC.

The Hokies are third in the league tournament but are the hottest ACC team going into the postseason with an eight-game winning streak. They are also in contention for their first ACC tournament title since joining the conference in 2004.

Keatley is player of the week, but the Hockey guards did their job too. Georgia Amour and Kayana Traylor combined for 30 points in a win over North Carolina; then they and Kayla King scored 32 points in a win over Georgia Tech.

8. Iowa Hawkeyes (23-6)
Previous rating:
This week: 2nd seed at the Big Ten Tournament

The biggest low (28 points in Maryland) and the biggest high (a win over Indiana) in 2022-2023 by the Hawkeyes were in the same week. But for the most part, it’s been a very consistent group, and for good reason: The current Hawkeyes starting five started their 83rd game together on Sunday. Along with the consistent heroism of Clarke and Monica Chinano, security guard Keith Martin deserves a mention. Her pass to Clarke won the game against Indiana, with 19 points and four assists and a plus 12 on the day. this season against top 10 opponents.

9. Y. Conn Huskies (25-5)
Previous rating:
This week: Xavier (Monday), No. 1 seed at the Big East in Uncasville, Connecticut.

Huskies were…


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