The Ducks jumped UConn to move behind South Carolina and Baylor in the Top 25 released Monday. The Gamecocks received 26 first-place votes from the national media panel. Baylor garnered three and Louisville one.
Oregon was the preseason No. 1, led by star Sabrina Ionescu. Expectations climbed after the team shocked the U.S. national team in an exhibition game, but losses to Louisville and Arizona State moved the Ducks down the poll.
UConn, which beat Tennessee and East Carolina last week, was fourth and Louisville fifth in the latest poll. Stanford, N.C. State, UCLA, Mississippi State and Oregon State round out the first 10 teams. The Beavers dropped three spots after getting swept by Oregon.
Missouri State re-entered the Top 25 at No. 24, replacing West Virginia, who fell out.
TIGHT AT THE TOP
Maryland, Iowa and Northwestern are part of a logjam at the top of the Big Ten standings during one of the most competitive seasons in the league in years.
Maryland was the unanimous preseason pick to finish first, but the Terrapins (16-4, 7-2) currently find themselves tied for second with the Wildcats (17-3, 7-2) behind surprising Iowa (17-3, 8-1).
Maryland coach Brenda Frese likes knowing that her team has to be at its best to win, which is exactly how it is in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s awesome. Every game you play, you’re going to be challenged. You just can’t show up anymore,” Frese said. “I love the fact that with nine games left, you’re going to be battle tested.”
Northwestern won five straight before falling at Maryland on Sunday. When the teams met on Dec. 31, the Wildcats won 81-58.
“This is deepest I’ve ever seen the Big Ten,” Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. “One through 13 —- even 14 some nights — can beat each other.”
Only three points are the difference between No. 12 Gonzaga, No. 13 Kentucky and 14th-ranked Florida State. … South Dakota climbed three places to No. 21 after winning their two game by an average of 38.5 points this past week. The Coyotes’ two losses this year came against South Carolina and Missouri State, which returned to the rankings this week at No. 24.