Warning: Some of these takes may be dangerously hot.
The 2021-2022 NCAA D1 women’s basketball season finally began on Tuesday, and the pressure is on for top teams to fulfill their dreams of winning the Championship. With this in mind, it’s time to take a look at the AP’s Top 25 team rankings and predict which colleges on the list will prove their mettle. Here are three of these teams’ ranks that make complete sense so far––along with two that don’t quite pass the sniff test.
- South Carolina in the Top Spot
On paper, the Gamecocks look nigh-unbeatable. They have scoring machine Zia Cooke, speed demon Destanni Henderson, and the best traditional post player in the world in Aliyah Boston. However, there were questions as to whether they would be able to live up to both their lofty ranking and impressive lineup, especially in the face of their infamous slip-up against NC State last season. Enter Tuesday’s match, where the Gamecocks got revenge on the Wolfpack to the tune of 66–57. Obviously, it’ll take a few matches for South Carolina to get into the groove––Boston struggled mightily against NC State, and their transition play needs a bit of work––but the positive signs are enough to show just why the Gamecocks are ahead of the pack (sorry).
- Texas Hanging On at No. 25
The Longhorns headed into this season on the back of a fairly rough 2021. They also suffered a major loss on their roster: Charli Collier was shuttled off to the Atlanta Dream after being picked first overall on the 2021 WNBA draft. However, nobody would know that from watching their 131–36 drubbing of New Orleans in this season’s opener, with debutante Kyndall Hunter leading the Longhorns in points. As long as she and her teammates keep this up, there’s no reason why Texas should be any less deserving of their spot than Nos. 26 and 27 Georgia and Michigan State.
- UConn Dropping to No. 2
Lower the pitchforks, please. UConn already looks like the team to beat this season despite “only” making the Final Four last year. They have one of the best collegiate players of all time in Paige Bueckers, they’re the favorites to win the Big East conference, and they even managed to keep all five of their star players from 2020-2021 for this upcoming season. Despite all of this, one exhibition win doesn’t guarantee that Bueckers and newcomer Azzi Fudd will play well together. Plus, their roster is so stacked that head coach Geno Auriemma will have a hard time figuring out what their best lineup even is. The Huskies being this high up the rankings is well-deserved, but for now, South Carolina absolutely has the edge.
Now for the rankings that are downright mind boggling…
- Texas A&M Barely Making the Cut
Won’t someone please think of the Aggies? 2021 Sweet Sixteen members Texas A&M are ranked No. 23, even though they have amazing chemistry and can pass and assist like nobody’s business. Unfortunately, their underappreciation is another example of basketball analysts not really caring about passing stats. Nevertheless, the Aggies may be able to draw more attention with their big win on Tuesday over sister school A&M Corpus Christi. “The beauty of this basketball team is that we move the ball well, we look great doing it and I think we find each other,” guard Jordan Nixon said after the match. Here’s hoping that they’ll find themselves higher up the rankings, right where they belong.
- Baylor in the Top 10
Okay, this might be an unpopular opinion. The Bears had a pretty great season last year, suffering only three losses. But almost half of their 2020-2021 roster is straight up gone, and they’re walking into this season with a brand new coach in Nicki Collen, which showed in their less-than-dominant win over the TSU Bobcats this past week. Obviously, their amazing work last season can’t be ignored, but should journalists and broadcasters really be voting for a team that’s unrecognizable now?
A full schedule of upcoming matches in the 2021-2022 D1 Women’s Basketball Championship (starting from November 10th) can be found here.