December 23, 2014

All signs pointed to the Pac-12 having one of its most competitive seasons ever.

A month in and preseason favorites Stanford and Cal are struggling while Oregon State and Arizona State are surging.

The Beavers went on the road this past week and handed North Carolina its first loss of the season. That victory moved Oregon State up to 10th in The Associated Press women's basketball poll Monday, the highest ranking ever for the school.

Oregon State (10-0) will face another stiff test this week when the Beavers visit No. 8 Tennessee on Sunday.

While the Beavers have been in the poll since the preseason, Charli Turner Thorne has Arizona State (10-1) back in the Top 25 for the first time this season as the Sun Devils entered at No. 25.

''It's great to receive recognition with this team,'' Turner Thorne said. ''We're playing well and have had a challenging schedule so far which hopefully will get us ready for the conference schedule.''

Stanford has played its own difficult schedule so far this season, but the Cardinal haven't had much success after beating UConn in early November. They headed east for games against Chattanooga and Tennessee and lost both, falling to 6-4 on the season. The two defeats dropped the Cardinal nine spots to 16th in the poll this week. It's the lowest Stanford has been since the school was also 16th on Jan. 2, 2006. The drop in the Top 25 also ended a 111-week run in the first 10 for the school, dating back to Jan. 19, 2009.

While Stanford remained in the Top 25, Cal fell out after losing to Louisville at home on Sunday.

Top-ranked South Carolina swept through a busy week winning its three games. Now Dawn Staley's club has some time to rest as the Gamecocks don't play again until Jan. 2.

It's a relatively light week for games with the holidays. No. 2 UConn opens up American Athletic Conference play on Saturday against SMU. Both third ranked Texas and No. 5 Texas A&M have the week off after their thrilling contest on Sunday which the Longhorns won by two points.

RISING BEAVERS: Oregon State has looked impressive in all 10 of its victories this season, winning by an average of 26.8 points. The Beavers are off to the best start in school history and are one of seven unbeaten teams left in college basketball. The Beavers previous best ranking was 11th on Jan. 9, 1996.

WELCOME TO THE TOP 25: Wisconsin-Green Bay and Arizona State joined the poll this week at No. 24 and No. 25 respectively. The two teams are no strangers to the Top 25 having both recently appearing in the poll. The Phoenix were ranked for most of the 2012-13 season while Arizona State spent 10 weeks in the poll last season.

Cal and DePaul fell out with the Bears losing to Louisville and the Blue Demons falling to UConn.

ANOTHER WEEK, ANOTHER TIE OR TWO: Not one but two ties exist in the poll this week with Oregon State and Duke both at No. 10 and Kentucky and Nebraska both 12th. It's the seventh straight week that there has been one. The preseason poll had two teams at No. 24. Week 1 had a three-way tie for No. 24. Then there was a three-way tie at No. 22 with Georgia, Syracuse and West Virginia sharing the honors. Arkansas and DePaul were both No. 25 the following week. Oklahoma State and Syracuse were tied for two straight weeks at 20 and then 19.

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