Parity. The state or condition of being equal.
The biggest question of the season: Has parity come to NCAA Division I women’s basketball? Does the fact that there is not a single team left in the country with an unblemished record and the fact that every week ranked teams are falling to unranked teams mean that there is an equal playing field for an NCAA championship in 2020?
We interrupt this parity with a little reality.
Probably not. The teams with the most talent, the most experience, the most depth usually end up standing at the end of the season. And those teams — particularly the ones that regularly live in the heart of our Power 10 rankings — remain championship favorites.
What’s different about 2020? No one or two teams looks to have a headlock on the trophy. The title race feels wide open, within reason.
The competitiveness of the 2019-2020 season is both notable and entertaining. And it likely won’t be forgotten any time soon.
But the best teams in the country are still the best teams, regardless of the upsets that will make the 2020 NCAA tournament a must-watch experience.
Here’s the NCAA Power 10 for the week ending January 19, 2019:
1) South Carolina (17-1) (No. 1 last week). The Gamecocks won their only game of the week by 33 points and they are primed for Big Monday’s matchup against Mississippi State. The team with the better national ranking in this series has won eight of the last 10 games. South Carolina is confident about its resume at this point with eight wins over top-50 RPI teams. And the Gamecocks have to feel good about their balance, with four players averaging double-figures scoring and seven players having led them in scoring at least once this season.
2) Baylor (15-1) (2). The Bears earned a statement win for a second straight week with a 40-point win over No. 17 West Virginia. For Baylor, it’s their 45th straight Big 12 win. Kim Mulkey is starting to move deeper into her bench in these games, and that can’t be good news for upcoming opponents. Junior guard Moon Ursin came off the bench to score a career-high 22 points in this game. Next up is a road game at TCU on Wednesday and then a home game Saturday against Texas Tech.
3) Oregon (15-2) (6). The Ducks made a statement Thursday night on national TV with a second-half beatdown of Stanford — and it was the Sabrina Ionescu show. The senior scored a career-high 37 points to become the leading scorer in school history. She also moved past 900 rebounds on her quest to become the first player in the game’s history to collect 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. Next up, a huge Civil War weekend against Oregon State that could play a big role in deciding the Pac-12 title.
4) Connecticut (16-1) (4). Geno Auriemma appears to be growing weary of people questioning his team, but for the moment, all they do is win. The Huskies will be stepping out of conference play and into the time machine to face Tennessee on Thursday, another game that is going to test a Connecticut team that is still something of a mystery in the national picture.
5) Louisville (18-1) (8). The Cardinals have steadied themselves as they get into the heart of the ACC schedule with wins this week over Boston College and North Carolina. Dana Evans is rounding into a star scorer, with three straight games of at least 20 points.
SCOREBOARD: Follow along for stats from every game
6) Mississippi State (16-2) (9). The Bulldogs have a defining moment coming Monday against South Carolina. MSU is coming off a four-point win over a tough LSU team for their eighth straight win.
7) Stanford (16-2) (3). Up by one at Oregon in the third quarter Thursday, the Cardinal were blown out the rest of the way. How did they bounce back three days later at Oregon State? By avoiding a sweep and winning a gutty 61-58 game, a game in which freshman wing Haley Jones sustained what appears to be knee injury. On paper, Stanford should get to breathe a bit next weekend at home against Colorado and Utah, but Jones’ health will be a big factor for the Cardinal moving forward.
8) North Carolina State (17-1) (NR). The Wolfpack is back in the Power 10. The big moment of the week was a 68-51 win over No. 13 Florida State on Thursday night at home, a defensive showcase in which the Seminoles were held more than 20 points below their season scoring average. Elissa Cunane continues to make an argument for National Freshman of the Year honors with four of five games with 20 points or more. N.C. State will play four of its next five games away from home.
9) Oregon State (16-2) (7). The Beavers have now lost two of their last three games, both to ranked teams, and Sunday’s home loss to Stanford is going to sting after OSU took a 13-2 run to open the game. The thing the two recent losses having in common: a struggling OSU offense. The Beavers are averaging 62.3 points a game over their last four games. But there is no time for regrets. Next up is a Civil War weekend against Oregon that give the Beavers an opportunity to show that they can still position themselves for a conference title.
POLLS: Top 25 national rankings
10) UCLA (16-1) (5). The Bruins became the last team in the country to exit the realm of the undefeated with a shocking double-overtime loss to USC, a team that hadn’t yet won a Pac-12 game. But it doesn't cost the Bruins their spot in the Power 10. Yet. The Bruins were playing without standout forward Michaela Onyenwere, who has a sprained ankle. How long UCLA plays without her and how it impacts them could change things in the near future. Next up for UCLA, a homestand against the Washington schools before a tough stretch that includes three straight road games against Arizona, Arizona State and Stanford.