What a first week of the 2021-22 women's college basketball season!
The core of my Power 10 rankings got completely shook up after a couple of upsets erupted in the top-25 and early evaluations of teams' performances compared to others.
1. South Carolina (1) - The Gamecocks remain on top of my Power 10 rankings after completing a strong opening week. South Carolina defeated NC State in a top-5 matchup, 66-57, and continued its dominance over South Dakota, 72-41. South Carolina's backcourt truly shined this week with Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson as its top scorers in both matchups. We also got an early look at the spark Kamilla Cardoso can provide on both ends with Aliyah Boston in the front court. Head coach Dawn Staley will have fun this season flexing her endless depth with her entire Final Four squad back, a key transfer and the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation.
2. UConn (2) - As if we did not talk about Paige Bueckers enough last year, the AP National Player of the Year continues to be the main topic of conversation, hitting a career-high 34 points against Arkansas. Bueckers woke up from a quiet first quarter and shot 15-of-19 shooting from the floor to help the Huskies take down the Razorbacks, 95-80. This non-conference matchup was a rematch from last year that left a sour taste in UConn's mouth after the upset gave the Huskies its only loss in the regular season. Even though the Huskies won this time around, head coach Geno Auriemma still had concerns about its defense against a very aggressive Arkansas team.
3. Maryland (4) - The Terps breezed past Longwood, Villanova and James Madison in its opening week. The common denominator? Angel Reese averaging a double-double! This is the dominance we were expecting from the 2020 No. 2 overall recruit in the nation last year, but unfortunately, Reese suffered an injury that benched her for the majority of the season. But we will continue to keep a close look at Maryland and its status with its top two scorers from last year Diamond Miller and Ashley Owusu out with injuries. However, the Terps are well equipped with multiple scoring attacks, which made up the No. 1 offense in the nation.
4. Stanford (3) - The defending national champs continued their momentum taking down Morgan State in its home opener, but got stunned by No. 25 Texas, 61-56. That's due to Texas' non-stop defensive pressure and Aaliyah Matharu's clutch shooting. A win would've been a cherry on top on the day Stanford received its championship rings, but it's still early in the season. We thought Stanford was deep in its championship year, but now 17 players make up this roster to create more endless combos. However, no Kiana Williams, so the question is: Who will be the floor general? We got two looks of Haley Jones and Anna Wilson at the point.
5. Indiana (8) - The Hoosiers continued its Elite 8 momentum by taking down Butler and No. 13 Kentucky in their first two tests. The Hoosiers came in with the mindset of achieving more history this season, and the Wildcats presented their first challenge. Talk about a balanced scoring attack to get the job done defeating Kentucky, 88-67. Four Hoosiers scored in double-figures led by Mackenzie Holmes. Indiana's go-to scorer came out on fire with Indiana's first 11 points and finished with a career-high of 29 points. This will be a tough national contender to beat with all of its starters returning from last year's historic run in the NCAA tournament due to its elite chemistry.
6. NC State (5) - The Wolfpack fell to No. 1 South Carolina on opening night, 66-57. The Gamecocks were able to take Elissa Cunane out of the equation early as NC State's go-to scorer ran into foul trouble, along with South Carolina's constant pressure in the paint. It's no secret that the Wolfpacks' success goes as far as Elissa Cunane takes them, but we saw how Cunane's impact, plus adding balanced scoring from all areas of the court will make this a squad scary moving forward. NC State bounced back with victories against Wofford and Florida, but I still dropped the Wolfpack down one spot to make room for Indiana's strong start.
7. Iowa (9) - The Hawkeyes started their first week 3-0 with wins over New Hampshire, Samford and Northern Iowa. Iowa has one of the most efficient scoring teams in the nation and that was on full display the entire week. That's due to the Hawkeyes bring back all of its scoring from last year's Sweet 16 team. The nation's leader in points and assists Caitlin Clark and the nation's leader in field goal percentage Monika Czinano picked up right where they left off as one of the best college duos in the nation. Their chemistry was unmatched, putting up double-figure scoring in each matchup.
8. Louisville (6) - The Cardinals take a major hit in my Power 10 after getting stunned by No. 22 Arizona, 61-59, in overtime. The Cardinals struggled with Arizona's stifling defense, shooting 28.6 percent from the floor and forcing them to 17 turnovers. Plus, Louisville couldn't find an answer for Cate Reese, who went on a rampage with 21 points. The Cardinals look different this year without Dana Evans leading the charge, so now it comes down to the question: Who will step up and take over? Hailey Van Lith showed signs of answering that question after having a quiet half but finished with 19 points. Van Lith hit some clutch free-throws down the stretch to tie up the game, but she will need help down the stretch from its new key scorers.
9. Baylor (10) - Baylor starts its new era in Waco 2-0 under new head coach Nicki Collen. The Bears survived a scare from Texas State in its home opener, but came out victorious by single-digits and closed out the week defeating UT Arlington, 81-54. Both matchups were led by the Bears' engine NaLyssa Smith with two 20 point plus performances. We will continue to see how this team meshes together with new pieces added and players stepping up in new roles, but overall they remain quick and strong, especially on the defensive end. Baylor's first tough task will come on Nov. 21 when they visit Maryland in a top-10 matchup.
10. Oregon (7) - The Ducks cruised pass Idaho State and Dixie State in Week 1. This is another deep squad, which features a scary front court. A few players are sitting out right now due to injuries and minute restrictions, so I'm looking forward to seeing what the Ducks will produce this season with its entire squad. The Ducks will travel to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis and will be tasked with a tough non-conference test, facing Oklahoma and either South Carolina or Buffalo.