Plenty of time for movement in preseason rankings
With a little bit more than a month before the start of the women’s collegiate season, Autumn Johnson of the NCAA released her preseason “power 10”. The list is full of blue bloods with very few surprises, but it might not be long before the tiers begin to shift.
Despite losing two key players in their would-have-been National title run, South Carolina is poised to be the top dawg in the SEC and Division 1 as a whole. While they did not have a very strong recruiting class, it would be foolish to bet against a Dawn Staley led team to not at least meet expectations.
Next up is UCONN, who in my mind has the most exciting player in terms of potential in all of college basketball. Paige Bueckers has been getting the LeBron and Zion treatment, glorified for her high school and AAU play. If she can live up to the hype it will be a special season and career for the number one overall recruit.
There were a few teams lower and higher than expected, most notably #9 Oregon. After the talent that left the program last year in Sabrina Ionescu, Satou Sabally, and Ruthy Hebard, it would be understandable for the Ducks to take some time off to rebuild. But nope, they are right back in the thick of things, largely in part to the addition of 5 top-22 recruits and Maryland transfer Taylor Mikesell.
Kentucky should be proud of cracking the top 10, but might that even be too low? Rhyne Howard might be the most pure scorer in all of college basketball, and she is now a preseason first-team All-American. The Wildcats finished last year at number 16 and will be hungry to rise up the SEC food chain.
A usual contender who was left off the list is Notre Dame. While their 13-18 record and the loss of Hall of Fame coach Muffet McGraw is not an optimal starting point, there is reason to believe the Irish will look a lot better this season. Dara Mabrey, the sharp-shooting Virginia Tech transfer, was granted immediate eligibility and will join an already crowded backcourt of promising youngsters who will look to lead the team back into contention.
As exciting as the players at the big-time programs are, I am more looking forward to seeing what teams comes out of nowhere. Whether it is a mid-major or just a normally irrelevant power 5 team, this whirlwind of an offseason should lead to even more surprises than normal.