In a season that seems rife with possibilities for a large number of the country’s best teams, the No. 1 spot in the nation became up for grabs again with Stanford’s loss at unranked Texas on Sunday.
So far, the No. 1 team in the country has fallen twice in the last month, and made room for someone knew.
This time, Oregon State is going to continue the Pac-12 dominance at the top of the national rankings with a turn at No. 1 in the NCAA Power Ten, and there are more shake-ups this week.
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It’s time for players across the country to board their flights home and get a few days to relax with family and friends. When they come back, the 2019-2020 season enters its next phase as conference play kicks in across the country.
Here’s the NCAA Power 10 for the week ending Dec. 22, 2019:
1) Oregon State (11-0) (2): The Beavers are off to the best start in program history. They have been consistently top-level, and they earn the No. 1 spot this week after Stanford fell at Texas on Sunday afternoon. Oregon State, which has three wins over ranked teams this season (all by double digits), ranks in the top 20 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense and ranks third in field-goal percentage, shooting nearly 50 percent from the field as a team. Meanwhile, senior guard Mikayla Pivec is the only player in the Pac-12 to be in the top 5 in scoring (15.6 ppg), rebounding (9.9 rpg) and field-goal percentage (56.3). The Beavers have one non-conference game to go on December 29 against Cal State Bakersfield.
2) Connecticut (10-0) (3): The Huskies played their lone game over a 17-day stretch on Sunday without Geno Auriemma on the bench and had little trouble with Oklahoma, putting up their highest scoring total and their biggest margin of victory of the season thus far in a 97-53 win. Olivia Nelson-Ododa is becoming the go-to player that Connecticut needs heading into this next crucial stretch with 27 points and 15 rebounds against the Sooners.
3) Oregon (10-1) (4): A second straight triple-double for Sabrina Ionescu — the 21st of her career, mind you — pushed Oregon past Kansas State, and there is every reason to believe that the Ducks have put the Louisville loss well in the rear view mirror and are primed to start Pac-12 play. They are set to defend their title and hope to meet expectations as the preseason title favorite. They move up a spot in the Power 10 because they are playing so well in all phases.
4) Stanford (10-1) (1): A road loss at unranked Texas ends an action-packed week for the Cardinal — not to mention a three-week run at No. 1. But dropping the Cardinal too far isn’t in the cards considering that on Wednesday night, Stanford pinned a 27-point loss on Tennessee. Tara VanDerveer’s team is a little healthier than last week with Lacie Hull joining her sister Lexie on the floor in Austin. But senior guard DiJonai Carrington remains out, as does junior forward Maya Dodson, who has yet to play this season. Next up, a December 28 game against UC Davis to close the non-conference schedule.
5) South Carolina (12-1) (6): In a tough weekend, the Gamecocks showed their mettle with another win over a ranked opponent and another over a team with a strong national profile. Sunday’s 73-60 win over South Dakota made it six in a row and pushed their record to 3-1 against ranked opponents. Dawn Staley says this team reminds her of the Virginia team she played with that reached a Women's Final Four. That’s a good reminder. Next up is the start of SEC play against No. 14 Kentucky at home.
6) Baylor (9-1) (7): An NCAA record 14 3-pointers by Juicy Landrum was one of the biggest stories of the week, and the Bears cruised to a win over Arkansas State. The Big 12 season begins in just a matter of days, and the January 9 date against Connecticut looms — not that we are counting or anything.
7) Louisville (11-1) (5): It probably wasn’t the way that the Cardinals wanted to roll into conference play. But it was what it was, a single-digit, double-overtime win over 4-6 UT Martin team that coach Jeff Walz called “ugly.” Louisville finished a run of seven straight road or neutral site games with a 6-1 record, and it surely has steeled them for what’s to come. And what is that exactly? Opening ACC play on December 29 against Syracuse.
8) UCLA (11-0) (9): The Bruins, off to their best start since 2010-11, met their first biggest challenge of the season easily earlier this week with a decisive road win over Georgia. They then followed up with their biggest win of the season so far, a gritty 68-58 road win against No. 12 Indiana. The game saw Michaela Onyenwere and Japreece Dean combine for 49 points. If UCLA was looking for proof that they are ready for the rigors of the Pac-12 season, they got it this week.
9) Florida State (12-0) (8): The Seminoles faced a big challenge Sunday against Michigan and survived to win by double-digits in the Hall of Fame showcase to earn their longest undefeated start in program history. The run of 12 straight wins ties for the longest winning stretch in program history, matching teams from 2004-05 and 2016-17.
10) North Carolina State (11-0) (10): The Wolfpack closed out their non-conference slate with a perfect record and an easy win over Chattanooga. NC State opens ACC play on the road against Boston College and will play four of its first six conference games at home.