Your Day in Women’s Basketball, December 8: Shake up in the AP poll

Mizzou guard Aijha Blackwell (33).Mizzou Tigers vs. Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020.Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics
Mizzou guard Aijha Blackwell (33).Mizzou Tigers vs. Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020.Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics /

Upsets cause movement up and down the rankings

The first few weeks of the season are a time for the marquee programs to test the waters before conference play. Whether that be against non-power 5 opponents or in tournaments, we have become accustom to seeing the top dogs show their prowess early on.

Not this year. Lesser-known teams look hungrier in the opening slate of 2020 games. It started with N.C. State’s win over South Carolina, which propelled the Wolfpack to fourth in the AP top 25, even garnering two first-place votes. The Gamecocks fell all the way to five, which must feel like Mariana’s Trench for Dawn Staley’s squad compared to their normal placement.

Stanford decisively claimed the number one spot with what has been smooth-sailing thus far. Louisville and UConn round out the top three.

The big story on Sunday was the SEC’s dominance over the Big 12 in the annual conference challenge. The SEC won 7 out of the 8 contests, most notably Arkansas upending Baylor. The Bears had 22 turnovers and committed 30 fouls in the contest, which allowed the Razorbacks 39 free throws to keep the game out of reach. Baylor fell three spots in the rankings to number 7, while Arkansas move up to 13 from 16 after their first win against a top-5 team in 17 years.

Luckily for Baylor, its two biggest threats for the Big 12 title and the only other previously ranked schools in the conference, Iowa State and Texas, both lost their respective challenge games, albeit to superior opponents.

Iowa State failed to give South Carolina their first losing streak in many years and Texas could not take down in-state rival Texas A&M. The Cyclones were dropped from the poll after their loss, while Texas is clinging onto a spot behind the play of the now household name, Charli Collier.

The only Big 12 team that came through was West Virginia, who needed overtime to take down Tennessee, preventing the embarrassment of a winless conference challenge. The Mountaineers are the only undefeated team left in the conference, but that could soon change with their imminent matchup with an angry Baylor squad.

The biggest fallers in the poll were Mississippi State who went down six spots after being beaten by a sneakily strong USF team and Gonzaga who has already lost two games, most recently to South Dakota State, the only new program to the rankings this week at 22.

Keep an eye out for the #19 Michigan Wolverines, who are off to a hot 4-0 start as Big 10 play is set to begin.

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