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Michelle Smith | | February 23, 2020

Women's basketball rankings: South Carolina leads Power 10 entering final full week of the regular season

Stanford's buzzer-beating game-winner leads this week's women's basketball top plays of the week

The last full week of the regular season has arrived with teams preparing for the postseason and jockeying for position in their conference tournaments.

And even the best teams in the country are feeling the heat from their conference compatriots. Two Power 10 teams fell this weekend — UCLA and Mississippi State came up short on the road against unranked opponents.

The Bruins keep their Power 10 position at No. 9, while the Bulldogs fell out — at least for this week.

And a Power 10 team from earlier this season came roaring back, thanks to the return of its sublime scoring star.

Here’s the NCAA Power 10 for the week ending February 23, 2020:

1) South Carolina (27-1) The Gamecocks’ three-game week closed with a big road win over Kentucky on Sunday, an SEC title and a No. 1 seed in the upcoming SEC tournament. But for a team intent on a long postseason run, a challenging week still lies ahead for Dawn Staley’s team. South Carolina still has to play a road game at Florida, which just pulled off an upset of Arkansas, followed by a showdown against Texas A&M, which is hitting its stride again now that Chennedy Carter is back on the floor.

2) Oregon (25-2) Friday’s win over Cal was the undercard to Monday night’s nationally televised top-5 matchup against Stanford at Maples Pavilion, a place where Oregon pinned an 88-48 win over the Cardinal last season. With a win, Oregon could claim a share of the Pac-12 title and put the Ducks one win away from their third straight conference title. And then there’s the matter of Sabrina Ionescu, who needs nine rebounds to become the first player in NCAA history to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds.

3) Baylor (25-1) The Bears won their 55th straight Big 12 regular season game in impressive style, putting up triple digits against Oklahoma on Saturday. It was only the second time ever that Baylor scored more than 100 points in a conference game. Baylor can clinch at least a share of their 10th straight Big 12 title with a win over West Virginia, carrying a three-game lead with four games to play. NyLyssa Smith’s 22-point game was her seventh this season with at least 20 points.

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4) Louisville (25-3) Louisville won big over Pitt on Sunday while playing without All-ACC guard and leading scorer Dana Evans and Elizabeth Balogun. Both are out with ankle injuries sustained Thursday night against Georgia Tech. The Cardinals have some time to get them rest before the postseason, having clinched the double-bye in the ACC tournament. Next up is a road game at Boston College and a home game against Virginia Tech on Senior Day to close out their conference schedule. 

5) Stanford (24-3) Monday night’s game against Oregon follows a gritty win over Oregon State on Friday night — a game the Beavers were desperate to have and were denied thanks to another big offensive game by point guard Kiana Williams, who is averaging 21 points a game over the last five games. The return of junior forward Maya Dodson is making a big difference to the Cardinal, particularly on the defensive end. Stanford is within one game of Oregon at the top of the Pac-12 standings and could pull into a tie with a win over the surging Ducks.

6) Connecticut (23-3) Nothing is quite as easy as it used to be for the Huskies and that includes wins in the American Athletic Conference. UConn pulled off a 13-point win over UCF — including 12 3-pointers — to seal its seventh straight conference title on Senior Day. Next up, a road game at Cincinnati and a Sunday game against Houston.

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7) Maryland (23-4) The Terps won their lone game of the week against Wisconsin in dominating fashion, but that’s nothing new these days. In its 12-game winning streak, Maryland has won by an average margin of 24 points and it has won its last four games by 32 points a game. Maryland closes out its Big Ten schedule with games against Purdue (home) and Minnesota (road).

8) North Carolina State (22-3) The Wolfpack pulled out a 50-48 win over Miami, rallying late after trailing through three quarters to snap its two-game losing streak. It was NC State’s first win in Coral Gables since 2007. Next up is Monday night’s game versus a Duke team that is making a case for the NCAA tournament. The Wolfpack is in second place in the ACC standings with three regular season games to go.

9) UCLA (23-4) A loss to Washington in Seattle marked a late-season setback for the Bruins, who are trying to hang on to the No. 3 spot in the Pac-12 with two games to go before the conference tournament. UCLA shot 31.4 percent for the game. The Bruins return home for the final two Pac-12 games against Colorado, which upset Arizona on Sunday, and Utah, which pulled off an upset against Arizona State.

10) Texas A&M (22-5) The Aggies are back in the Power 10 with momentum, having won four in a row since Chennedy Carter returned to the lineup. Carter is averaging 22.5 points a game since coming back from an ankle injury, including the 37 points she put up last week against Tennessee. The next week will be a true test of the Aggies’ postseason readiness: a Thursday game in College Station vs. Alabama followed by next Sunday’s SEC finale against No. 1 South Carolina in Columbia.

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