By Tracy Schultz
November 25, 2008

The first couple of weeks of the season haven't been kind to the top teams, but if you love the underdog it's been a thrilling start. Another round of upsets has managed to keep a usually dull time far more interesting. It's also shaken up the power rankings once again.

NCAA Women's Hoops Power Rankings
1 Connecticut Huskies
Last Week: 1
We may be only three games into the season, but get ready to start hearing talk of this UConn team being the best since Diana Taurasi ruled the floor. Not only did the Huskies handily defeat San Diego and Rhode Island while other top teams were getting upset, they also did it without letting down in the second half.
Next three: 11/25 at BYU; 11/30 vs. Oklahoma; 12/03 vs. Holy Cross
2 North Carolina Tar Heels
Last Week: 2
It was a good weekend for the Tar Heels, who downed Oklahoma in a 80-79 nailbiter on Sunday to win the NIT tip-off championship. Even better, they did it with Jessica Breland coming off the bench to score 31 points -- depth that could come in handy when playing a tough ACC schedule.
Next three: 11/25 vs. Wofford; 11/28 vs. Pacific; 11/29 vs. Arkansas/Oregon State
3 California Golden Bears
Last Week: 11
Getting past Albany without Devanie Hampton, the 2007 Pac-10 Player of the Year, and Rama N'diaye was expected. Knocking off Rutgers -- even a struggling Rutgers -- was impressive. Here's more good news: Hampton and N'diayne are both practicing and might be ready to go soon.
Next three: 11/27 vs. South Florida; 11/28 vs. Texas Tech; 11/29 vs. Iowa
4 Baylor Bears
Last Week: 6
The Bears couldn't have asked for a better follow-up to their win over Stanford than games against SFA and Rice. Not only did the Bears avoid a letdown, they also clamped down on defense by holding teams under 60 points
Next three: 11/27 vs. UCF at Virgin Islands; 11/28 vs. Villanova at Virgin Islands; 11/29 vs. Wisconsin at Virgin Islands
5 Oklahoma Sooners
Last Week: 4
A one-point home loss to North Carolina in the WNIT championship shouldn't put too big of a damper on an otherwise impressive start. However, it highlighted a big problem Oklahoma may have: as dominant as the Sooners are inside, Courtney and Ashley Paris need help if Oklahoma ever goes 2-for-17 from beyond the arc again.
Next three: 11/26 vs. Marist; 11/30 at Connecticut; 12/03 vs. Creighton
6 Louisville Cardinals
Last Week: 7
Could three be invited to the Big East party this year? Louisville beat a solid Xavier team this week behind Candyce Bingham's 23 points and Big East player of the week Angel McCoughtry. Meanwhile,the Cards take on a Utah team that suffered a loss at South Dakota State last week.
Next three: 11/25 at Utah; 11/28 vs. Alabama; 11/29 TBA
7 Texas A&M Aggies
Last Week: 3-0
In the midst of a six-game road stretch, the Aggies should be battle tested and improved by the time they return home. Arizona and Penn State should provide a challenge, but look for the Aggies' defense, which is holding opponents to 50 points and 17 percent from three-point range, to carry them through.
Next three: 11/25 at Arizona; 11/28 vs. Penn State; 11/29 vs. Pepperdine/Coppin State
8 Stanford Cardinal
Last Week: 9
The Cardinal rebounded from an upset to Baylor, but it came with a huge cost when junior point guard JJ Hones injured her left knee in the first half of Sunday's 81-47 win over Rutgers. It's been a tough start for Hones, who had just returned from missing two games with a stress fracture. Her leadership and stability were sorely missed in the loss to Baylor and could cost Stanford when it faces a tough Purdue team.
Next three: 11/28 vs. Purdue; 11/29 vs. Iowa State; 11/30 at Hawaii
9 Tennessee Volunteers
Last Week: 10
Vicki Baugh has given the Lady Vols a spark since moving into the starting lineup. Baugh, who tore her ACL during last season's championship win against Stanford, posted her first career double-double on Sunday against Louisiana Tech. "She's just going to get better and better as she gets healthier," Louisiana Tech coach Chris Long said. "She's a force."
Next three: 11/25 vs. Western Carolina; 11/30 vs. DePaul; 12/02 at George Washington
10 Maryland Terrapins
Last Week: 12
As the youngsters acclimate to the college grind, the Terrapins can rely on Kristi Tolliver and Marissa Coleman. Coleman, who scored 22 points against UCLA moved into sixth on the all-time scoring list with 1,616 points. Already the Terrapins' all-time assists leader, Tolliver scored 52 points in her last two games to become the 10th player to pass the 1,500-point mark.
Next three: 11/26 vs. South Dakota State at Cancun; 11/27 vs. Montana at Cancun; 11/28 vs. Illinois at Cancun
11 Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 14
Cupcake schedule, much? The Longhorns have nearly doubled their opponents' offensive output, outscoring them, 446-247. Maybe it's not the most challenging schedule (i.e. Furman, Texas A&M Corpus Christi), but with every player logging at least 14 minutes, Texas has had the luxury of building depth and balance that will be a necessity in the upcoming weeks as the schedule gets tougher.
Next three: 11/29 vs. Georgia Tech; 11/30 TBA; 12/07 at Mississippi
12 Auburn Tigers
Last Week: 15
Vanderbilt might have been the preseason favorite to win the SEC title, but Auburn could upstage the field. DeWanna Bonner, the preseason conference Player of the Year, is playing up to expectations with 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds a game. But the Tigers have balance in scoring thanks to Alli Smalley (16.8 ppg) and Sherell Hobbs (63 percent beyond the arc), who each scored 23 in Sunday's overtime win over Ohio State.
Next three: 11/26 at UAB; 11/29 vs. N.C. State; 11/30 at Florida International
13 Duke Blue Devils
Last Week: 5
Duke suffered a tough defeat in Chicago when it fell to Hartford -- coach Jen Rizzoti's old team. But the Blue Devil's rebounded with a win over Southern the next day behind Abby Waner's season-high 24 points.
Next three: 11/28 at Western Kentucky; 12/04 vs. Iowa; 12/07 vs. Michigan
14 Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Last Week: 4
A trip to the west coast seemed to take a toll on the Rutgers rookies, who barely contributed in Sunday's blowout loss at Stanford. The bright spot was April Sykes, who was productive in a loss to Cal on Friday, leading Rutgers with 18 points. She logged 21 minutes against the Cardinal, but scored just five points. "We have five freshmen who just played in two big arenas for the first time," junior Brittany Ray said. "They got that experience, and I know coach has a lot more to teach us."
Next three: 12/01 at Temple; 12/08 vs. Georgia; 12/11 vs. Prairie View A&M
15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Last Week: NR
The Irish are hitting 53 percent of their shots and four players are averaging double digits in scoring. They could be challenged this week against a Michigan State squad that's beating teams by more than 30 points a game.
Next three: 11/25 vs. Georgia Southern; 11/29 vs. Michigan State; 12/02 at Eastern Michigan
16 Vanderbilt Commodores
Last Week: 13
For the past two seasons, the Commodores have averaged more than 70 points a game. Sunday's 50-42 loss to Michigan was just the third time since 2006 that the Commodores scored less than 50. Luckily for Vandy, the Davidson women don't have an equivalent of Stephen Curry.
Next three: 11/28 vs. Davidson; 11/29 vs. St. Joseph's/Virginia Tech; 12/02 vs. Radford

You May Like