Now that we are only a couple games into the NCAAW, it's time to overreact. Some teams at the top of the mountain have looked like their foundation has been shaken while others, like South Carolina, are performing as expected. It's way too early to take too much away from what we have seen as coaches make adjustments and players get more comfortable. Here are the too soon to take seriously candidates for teams that could drop out of the top-25 in women's college basketball starting with Maryland.
No. 19 Maryland
When you have a star in Diamond Miller and a proven coach in Brenda Frese, your team is in good shape. However, there is some worry about the future WNBA 2023 first round after she dealt with a nagging injury that forced her out of the season opener. She has since come back but if that knee doesn't hold up throughout the season, Maryland could be in trouble.
Without Mimi Collins and Angel Reese, the team is playing small ball with Miller, a guard, being one of the taller players on the team. The Terrapins aren't as tight on the boards and have a 47.5% rebound rate which is below average.
“We often talk about playing positionless basketball,” Frese said during Maryland’s media day. “You’re going to see it this year from us.”
Maryland is going to have to be more vigilant grabbing defensive rebounds and beating teams on the break if they are going to stay in the top-25.
No. 24 Villanova
After being unranked last week, Villanova creeped into the top-25 rankings after recently beating Princeton (former No. 24 team) by double-digits. They are playing incredible defense to start the season, holding opponents to 48.5 points per game. The Wildcats also have one of the best scorers in the country in Maddy Siegrist, who just won BIG EAST player of the week after averaging 26.5 points and 13 rebounds per game.
So why be so low on Villanova? They have an interesting stretch coming up where they play No. 20 Creighton, a tough Belmont team and No. 7 Iowa State all in the next few weeks. No one would be surprised if they end up taking down Creighton and Belmont but those are two tough tests coming ahead.
Tee Baker of The Next Hoops had high praise for Creighton.
“I think what Creighton has going for them is that they have so many returning players from last year,” Baker said. “They have a chemistry that is palpable when you watch them play and had the opportunity to see them play a few times in person last year and how they communicate on the floor the way that they want this. I had the opportunity to speak to Lauren Jensen at Media Day and some others from the Creighton team. And they have in their mind achieving what they achieved last year, right? They want to make it to the Elite Eight and continue putting themselves on that national map.”
Villanova has a chance to overtake Creighton but they have to prove it when the two match up in the coming weeks.
No. 25 Utah
I really like this Utah team. However, I'm higher on UCLA after what they were able to do with recruiting this past season. Freshman Kiki Rice is already looking like she is going to improve as the year goes along and the team in general has been effective scoring at the rim. Utah also has a great offense this year but the defense is still coming along. They are giving up 71.4 points per game to opponents and that could stop them from remaining in the top-25.
The vibes in Utah are great to start the season and they should be happy with the position they are in.
“I think what is super cool about when we are playing Utah basketball- when we play it for 40 minutes- that’s the results we get,” Kennady McQueen said. “Those inside out threes- if they take that away, that’s when our post go to work. We really exploited that and knew that coming into this game that if we could play Utah basketball and make the extra pass- I thought that was the key tonight.”
The fear of UCLA creeping up on Utah stems from how good the Bruins can be. Utah has a shot to remain in the top-25 the rest of the year.