Effectively, that was fast. Simply 9 days into the 2020-21 women’s college basketball season, the nation’s No. 1 staff was toppled Thursday as No. 8 NC State upended South Carolina on the Gamecocks’ residence court docket. What does it imply for Bracketology? Which staff would be the new No. 1 when Monday’s rankings come out? Our specialists — ESPN.com’s Mechelle Voepel, Graham Hays, Charlie Creme and D’Arcy Maine — preview the Jimmy V Ladies’s Basic and the weekend forward, and make their picks for the largest video games on the schedule.
What broke down for No. 1 South Carolina on Thursday? What are the ripple results in Bracketology, the place the Gamecocks had been the No. 1 general seed? And, figuring out we may have one other upset earlier than then, which staff ought to take over No. 1?
Creme: Whereas the Gamecocks had been the overwhelming decide because the preseason No. 1 staff within the nation and had gained 29 video games in a row, most of us agreed this wasn’t an ideal staff. A few areas had been minor considerations, they usually each confirmed up on Thursday night time, contributing to No. 8 NC State’s 54-46 upset in Columbia. As proficient South Carolina is, the Gamecocks are younger. Who was going to supply the management that Mikiah Herbert Harrigan and Tyasha Harris offered final season? And do the Gamecocks have dependable, constant perimeter capturing?
The management by no means materialized in opposition to the Wolfpack. A scarcity of urgency at key moments of the sport was an issue as nobody asserted herself when the sport was on the road. I do not count on this to be a difficulty because the season progresses. Each staff wants extra time collectively on the court docket, and South Carolina isn’t any exception.
However the capturing may not be as simply correctable. The whole recreation was a night of missed photographs. South Carolina was 20-for-74 from the sector (27.0%).
Sophomore guard Zia Cooke could be the important thing to higher capturing. She was 1-for-5 from 3-point vary in opposition to NC State, and the Gamecocks made 2-of-12 from deep. Cooke’s significance was actually underscored on Thursday.
The loss would not do main injury to South Carolina’s Bracketology standing. The Gamecocks stay a No. 1 seed, though not No. 1 general. That distinction goes to Stanford. South Carolina’s wins over South Dakota and Gonzaga final weekend do not get forgotten due to this loss.
The most important Bracketology influence is for NC State, which is now additionally on the highest line. The Wolfpack entered the sport No. 6 general on the S-curve. A highway win in opposition to the No. 1 staff within the nation is huge for the résumé regardless of how quirky the season or circumstances could be. NC State elevates previous Louisville and Baylor to turn into the fourth No. 1 seed. When in comparison with the groups NC State might be competing in opposition to for a No. 1 or No. 2 seed, the Wolfpack now have a win that just about nobody within the nation owns.
Voepel: Coach Daybreak Staley was actually sad with every thing her Gamecocks did, together with that nobody stepped ahead to get them organized on the court docket. That is the place they miss some extent guard with as a lot expertise as Harris had, as Charlie talked about. It is also an instance of what it is wish to play a Wes Moore-coached staff in case your offense is stagnant: It will get ugly and stays that method. Staley was irritated with South Carolina’s shot choice, or lack thereof. She pointed to the Gamecocks capturing 10.5% from the sector within the second quarter and mentioned, “I advised our staff I might be blindfolded with protection, and I may shoot higher than 10%. That simply tells me we’re taking dangerous photographs and we have no circulation.”
Each groups appeared like they had been blindfolded at occasions Thursday, with every capturing lower than 30%. Guard Destanni Henderson, who performed so nicely within the Gamecocks’ two victories in South Dakota final weekend, was 1-of-13 from the sector. The within battle between South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston (4 of 14 from the sector, 9 factors) and Elissa Cunane (3-of-13, 14 factors) was principally a standoff with neither participant at her greatest, Staley mentioned.
However the Wolfpack simply had a bit extra life on this recreation and bought a extremely key efficiency from Kayla Jones with 16 factors and 12 rebounds. It is a wake-up name of types for South Carolina, which matches to No. 23 Iowa State on Sunday (ESPNU/ESPN App, midday ET). Cyclones coach Invoice Fennelly excels at developing with junk defenses in opposition to extra athletic groups, and we all know how a lot Iowa State will attempt to stretch South Carolina’s protection with the 3-ball.
South Carolina has some actual work to do in observe the following couple of days, nevertheless it’s most likely for the perfect for a younger staff to have a troublesome loss like this. Think about how the Gamecocks reacted to their final loss, in November 2019 to Indiana: They did not lose the remainder of the season.
As for who might be No. 1 in Monday’s AP ballot now, that is attention-grabbing. No. 2 Stanford remains to be trying to figure out its schedule with the Santa Clara County ordinance prohibiting video games or observe within the county via a minimum of Dec. 21. Stanford is meant to play at UNLV on Saturday, which would be the Cardinal’s second recreation this season. In the event that they win, it appears seemingly they transfer to the highest spot. However will No. 3 UConn, a staff that also hasn’t performed but, transfer up, too? Or would possibly No. 4 Baylor or No. 5 Louisville soar forward of the Huskies in the event that they win? And the way far up will the No. 8 Wolfpack transfer in the event that they win Sunday in opposition to Coastal Carolina?
With No. 3 UConn on a 14-day pause, No. 20 DePaul has stepped in to play No. 5 Louisville on Friday (ESPN/ESPN App, 6:30 p.m. ET) within the Jimmy V Ladies’s Basic. What intrigues you most concerning the matchup?
Hays: DePaul coach Doug Bruno and Louisville coach Jeff Walz are pretty much as good as anybody at not simply figuring out expertise however expertise that matches the way in which their respective applications play. Walz more and more does that throughout the expertise pool of, roughly, the highest 50 recruits, whereas Bruno has to solid a barely wider internet, however each do it nicely. In order a lot as this recreation issues within the current, I am to observe the long run, particularly Louisville freshmen Hailey Van Lith and Olivia Cochran and DePaul freshman Darrione Rogers.
Van Lith has been sensational via two video games, however will a step up — each in degree of opposition and tempo of play — make her look extra her age in any respect? Or is an up-an-down tempo with a premium on shot-making the proper stage for her to place down a marker in a race for freshman of the 12 months honors that many people primarily ceded to UConn’s Paige Bueckers?
On the DePaul facet, Rogers is a top-50 recruit, one thing of a rarity for the Blue Demons. She hasn’t began but however performed starter’s minutes in a 93-91 season-opening loss in opposition to then-No. 13 Texas A&M.
Dana Evans remains to be Louisville’s star. Sonya Morris nonetheless leads DePaul’s veteran ensemble. However this recreation presents a glimpse of what is forward for 2 applications that at all times have plans.
Maine: OK, so it isn’t the previous Huge East conflict the unique schedule had promised, nevertheless it’s an awesome matchup between two former convention foes and pretty much as good of a comfort prize as you are going to get in 2020. These applications have historical past — DePaul holds a slight 17-15 edge within the all-time sequence — and would possibly I remind you concerning the final time these two applications squared off? It resulted in an exhilarating, jump-out-of-your-seat 73-72 upset by DePaul throughout the second spherical of the 2016 NCAA event. The rosters are clearly totally different now, however with the Blue Demons shedding their first check of the season in opposition to Texas A&M and the Cardinals on the lookout for an early signature win in opposition to a ranked opponent, each squads will certainly deliver their A-plus video games.
In a season with so many unknowns and uncertainties, groups might want to seize the considerably elusive alternatives in opposition to high quality, nonconference opponents as a result of they may not have many different probabilities. It is going to be fascinating to see which of those groups and gamers step up on Friday and take benefit on this surprising assembly.
Creme: First, we should always give kudos to the coaches and faculties and everybody else who made this matchup occur. The frustration of not attending to see two top-five groups sq. off is eased by a superb top-20 matchup. DePaul and the Huge East needed to agree to maneuver a convention recreation in opposition to Villanova to make this recreation occur. That must be acknowledged. Flexibility goes to be wanted on so many fronts this season, and it is a main instance of doing one thing below unexpected circumstances that’s good for the game.
Any recreation that entails DePaul has the potential to be extremely entertaining. Due to the type Doug Bruno’s groups play, the Blue Demons are able to beating anybody within the nation on the suitable night time. DePaul performs quick, spreads the ground and has a number of 3-point shooters, led by veterans Morris and Lexi Held.
Bruno has typically used five-guard lineups in DePaul’s first two video games — that close to upset of Texas A&M and a school-record 128-point efficiency in opposition to Chicago State — and the Cardinals have the most effective guards within the nation in Evans and Van Lith, the reigning ACC freshman of the week, of their backcourt. Energy in opposition to energy makes for some enjoyable.
What different recreation are you most trying ahead to seeing over the following three days?
Maine: There are so many good matchups on the calendar this weekend that I’ve began typing after which deleting my response many occasions. However I am unable to wait to see the Pac -12 showdown between No. 7 Arizona and No. 9 UCLA on Friday. The convention is so stacked this season, and each squads are on the lookout for early bragging rights.
And this recreation in fact options two of the top three best players in women’s college basketball within the Wildcats’ Aari McDonald and the Bruins’ Michaela Onyenwere. Each will contend for Pac-12 participant of the 12 months honors, in addition to each different main award, down the stretch, so buckle in on Friday, seize some snacks and be ready for the pair to commerce buckets and wow with their highlight-worthy athleticism.
Creme: Contrasting types could make for compelling basketball. That is one of many causes I’m anxious to see No. 4 Baylor’s go to to No. 16 Arkansas on Sunday (ESPN2/ESPN App, 6 p.m. ET).
With Chelsea Dungee, Future Slocum and Amber Ramirez, the Razorbacks need to push the tempo, shoot 3-pointers and make the sport a bit frenetic. Baylor has dimension and would favor getting the ball to NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo within the put up.
Arkansas did not do a great job defending the inside in opposition to Maryland on Sunday, permitting 42 factors within the paint in a 115-96 loss. The Woman Bears are extra imposing than the Terps, so I’m curious to see if the Arkansas protection exhibits enchancment.
However, Baylor did not make a single 3-pointer Tuesday in opposition to South Florida, and the offense appeared uneven at occasions. Regardless of the nice information of DiDi Richards’ return, the Woman Bears are nonetheless trying to find extra playmakers within the backcourt. Arkansas has a number of of these. How will these matchups play out and which staff will present probably the most enchancment of their areas of weak point?
Hays: The basketball rivalry between the states of Indiana and Kentucky is sufficiently old that the annual highschool women’ basketball all-star sequence between the neighbors predates the NCAA girls’s basketball event. However any girls’s basketball rivalry between the schools that bear every state’s title was normally an afterthought. Now not. With each groups extremely ranked and harboring important postseason aspirations, Sunday’s assembly (ESPNU/ESPN App, 4 p.m. ET) is the largest in sequence historical past.
With out making an excessive amount of of a rout, No. 13 Indiana’s complete dismantling of Jap Kentucky in its season opener stood in distinction to final season’s extra workmanlike opening win in opposition to equally overmatched Mount St. Mary’s. With Grace Berger and Ali Patberg combining for 35 factors and 13 assists and Mackenzie Holmes going for 26 factors, 8 rebounds and seven blocks, Indiana dominated the way in which a contender ought to in opposition to lesser competitors. However with a backloaded Huge Ten schedule, Sunday’s recreation could be one among solely two alternatives to play a ranked opponent till the tip of January. In different phrases, if the Hoosiers need to be taken critically within the higher echelon, that is the time to earn that respect.
However on the opposite facet, No. 11 Kentucky may need already turned heads with its early performances. With out Rhyne Howard, the preseason nationwide participant of the 12 months, first Chasity Patterson after which Dre’una Edwards seized their alternative to make an announcement concerning the solid Kentucky can put round Howard.
It provides as much as a recreation worthy of the basketball dangerous blood between the neighboring states.
After South Carolina’s loss, which different recreation this weekend has the one largest Bracketology influence?
Creme: Of all of the groups concerned in these high quality matchups this weekend, No. 25 Texas has probably the most to achieve in its recreation in opposition to Twelfth-ranked Texas A&M on Sunday (ESPN2/ESPN App, 8 p.m. ET). The Longhorns have appeared dominant of their first three video games, and Charli Collier is the breakout star of the season’s first week. However beating SMU, North Texas and Louisiana Tech are merely footnotes on an NCAA event résumé. Knocking off Texas A&M would transfer to the highest of the web page. This recreation can even function a real measuring stick as to the place Texas is in its transition from Karen Aston to Vic Schaefer on the sideline.
The Aggies enter the weekend as a No. 3 seed in Bracketology and the No. 10 staff general on my board. A win like this following one in opposition to DePaul may put Texas A&M ready to make a attainable transfer to the No. 2 seed line.