Written by Doug Feinberg, a writer for AP Basketball.
On Monday, Caitlin Clark and the University of Iowa rose to the second spot in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball rankings. This comes as the standout guard gets closer to breaking the all-time NCAA scoring record.
This is the second instance in the span of a few weeks where the Hawkeyes have been ranked second in the poll, a position that has not been favorable for teams in the past month. In the last month, UCLA, Iowa, and Kansas State have all held the second spot at different times since January 8th, but none were able to maintain it for more than a week.
Although there have been recent changes in the No. 2 position, South Carolina continues to dominate the poll as the clear No. 1 team according to a panel of 35 national media members.
This week, the Gamecocks (21-0) will have home games against Missouri and No. 11 UConn. Dawn Staley’s team will compete in these matches without their top player, Kamilla Cardoso, as she is temporarily playing for the Brazilian national team in an Olympic qualification event.
Iowa has previously been ranked second twice this season, with the most recent instance being on January 15th when they were defeated by Ohio State.
Clark, who is only 66 points away from becoming the all-time leading scorer in NCAA women’s basketball history, will try and make it a longer stay this time around. She will lead the Hawkeyes against Penn State and Nebraska this week with Kelsey Plum’s record in view.
Iowa was followed by North Carolina State at number 3, Colorado at number 4, and Ohio State at number 5. This is the highest ranking the Buckeyes have received this season.
After a defeat by USC, Stanford dropped from fourth to sixth place. JuJu Watkins, a remarkable first-year player, contributed 51 points to USC’s win.
Texas vaulted up five places to seventh after beating Baylor and then-No. 2 Kansas State last week. The Wildcats fell to eighth after also losing to Oklahoma, which entered the poll at No. 24. UCLA was ninth and USC climbed five spots to 10th.
In the past 15 years, only one team, Stanford in 2009-10, has consistently held the No. 2 spot throughout the entire season. Recently, this position has been unpredictable. In the 2018-19 season, the No. 2 spot changed hands 10 times, the most in that time period. Currently, there have been seven different teams ranked at No. 2 this season.
The UConn coach, Geno Auriemma, is close to reaching a milestone of 1,200 victories, putting him in the company of Tara VanDerveer and Mike Krzyzewski as the only Division I coaches with such a record. Auriemma will have the opportunity to achieve this feat on Wednesday as the Huskies face Seton Hall at home.
This past week, North Carolina dropped out of the rankings even though they had two close defeats against N.C. State and Virginia Tech. Throughout the season, the Tar Heels have suffered a total of eight losses, with five of them being against teams that are currently ranked (South Carolina, Kansas State, UConn, Virginia Tech, and N.C. State). Interestingly, all of these defeats to Top 25 teams were by a margin of 12 points or less. However, the Tar Heels have managed to secure victories against four teams that are currently in the Top 25 (Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Syracuse, and Louisville).
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