It’s another one of those weeks where the Power 10 didn’t change. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know more about this group than we did a week ago. The start of conference play is a sudden trove of new challenges, new opportunities, and new information for the nation’s best teams.
Here’s the NCAA Power 10 for the week ending Dec. 29, 2019:
1) Oregon State (12-0) (1): The Beavers defeated Cal State Bakersfield 69-50. What have we learned? We learned that while UConn earned the top spot last week in the AP Top 25, there was a groundswell of support for the idea that Oregon State actually may have the better case to be No. 1. And so, we will leave them right here.
2) Connecticut (10-0) (2): The Huskies did not play this week. What have we learned? Sophomore Olivia Nelson-Ododa is setting a tone for her team as a shot-blocker. She has 44 blocks thus far, ranking her second in the NCAA in both total blocks and blocks per game (4.4). UConn opens conference play Thursday against Wichita State at the XL Center.
3) Oregon (11-1) (3): An exhibition win over Corban kept the Ducks from getting rusty over the holiday break. What have we learned? While the Ducks’ veteran players such as Sabrina Ionescu, Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally are established offensive stars, the freshmen aren’t too shabby either. Australian Jaz Shelley set a program record with 10 3-pointers two weeks ago against UC Riverside and another freshman guard Holly Winterburn put up 17 (including five 3-pointers) against South Dakota State. Expect Pac-12 foes to be boning up on their perimeter defense. Oregon opens the Pac-12 schedule against unbeaten Colorado (12-0) on Friday at home.
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4) Stanford (11-1) (4): The Cardinal rebounded from their Texas loss by beating UC Davis Saturday with a fourth-quarter surge. What have we learned? Freshman Haley Jones is finding her collegiate groove. She finished the game with a career-high 21 points to go with 11 rebounds. Stanford will shore up their defense heading into their Pac-12 opening weekend at home against Washington State and Washington.
5) South Carolina (12-1) (5): The Gamecocks did not play this week. What have we learned? Thursday night’s game against Kentucky to open the SEC schedule will be another important barometer for this team. With two wins already against top 10 opponents, South Carolina doesn’t have to prove itself elite, but it has to start to prove to itself that it’s on the way to being ready to contend for a championship in a year where the infusion of freshmen left many wondering if it might take a little longer to get to this point.
6) Baylor (9-1) (6): The Bears did not play this week. What have we learned? Senior forward Lauren Cox, who has missed most of the season to this point with a foot injury, has been cleared to practice and will likely be ready to take the floor for Baylor’s battle against UConn on Jan. 9.
7) Louisville (12-1) (7): The Cardinals opened conference play Sunday by beating Syracuse at home by four points. What have we learned? Louisville hadn’t played at home in 24 days before this game. Maybe they need a little time to settle back in, particularly offensively, after shooting less than 35 percent for the game. Next up is another road game, Thursday night at Clemson.
8) UCLA (12-0) (8): The Bruins beat rival USC to open the Pac-12 schedule, moving them to the best start in program history. What have we learned? UCLA has no intention on being left out of the conversation about who can win the Pac-12 title. They will be able to further define their title ambitions next weekend at home against Arizona State and No. 18 Arizona.
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9) Florida State (13-0) (9): The Seminoles beat Virginia Tech to complete the first full weekend of the ACC schedule Sunday and move to 13-0 for the first time in program history. What have we learned? This is a team playing with a lot of confidence, having won 11 of their games by at least 10 points. Next up is a road game against Syracuse.
10) North Carolina State (12-0) (10): The Wolfpack beat Boston College to open conference play. What have we learned? With six players scoring in double figures in this game (and for the second time this season), we have learned that the Wolfpack have balance, versatility and the ability to weather adversity with a variety of scoring options.