Opening day takeaways – Is South Carolina even higher and is there a brand new favourite within the ACC?

South Carolina obtained its NCAA title rings, and the Gamecocks and 16 different high 25 groups obtained their ft moist because the 2022-23 girls’s basketball season opened Monday.

Just one high 25 workforce misplaced: No. 21 Creighton, the Cinderella of the 2022 girls’s NCAA match, beat No. 23 South Dakota State.

From freshmen getting their first style of the faculty recreation and transfers introducing themselves to new followers and fifth-year tremendous seniors making their final go-rounds, it was a buzzy day. Count on the surprises and upsets to occur quickly, as a result of we have solely simply begun.

ESPN’s Alexa Philippou, Charlie Creme and M.A. Voepel take a look at among the issues that stood out most — and what they could imply for the remainder of the season — on opening day.

Are the Gamecocks even higher?

Defending nationwide champion South Carolina misplaced one starter, Destanni Henderson, from final season however returned nationwide participant of the yr Aliyah Boston. Nearly as good because the Gamecocks had been final season at 35-2, might they be an improved workforce this season?

Positive, a 101-31 opening victory over East Tennessee State was nothing like a take a look at. However it confirmed the Gamecocks veterans could have loads of reinforcement. Contemplate freshmen like Ashlyn Watkins, a 6-foot-3 ahead who had 11 factors, eight rebounds and two blocks in her school debut. Her efficiency was a part of 47 factors South Carolina obtained from its bench.

Coach Daybreak Staley talked afterward about how she felt each particular person returning obtained higher. Contemplating the Gamecocks had no apparent weak point final yr, if there was a giant query this season it was precisely how the purpose guard duties can be coated with Henderson gone. Monday’s recreation signifies it is perhaps a shared chore, no less than for some time, with redshirt freshman Raven Johnson main the way in which with 4 assists. So opponents won’t wish to hear it, however yeah, this may very well be an excellent more durable South Carolina workforce to beat. — M.A. Voepel

New favourite within the ACC?

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Cayla King nails the trey vs. Mount St. Mary’s Mountaineers

No. 13 Virginia Tech has some lofty expectations this season constructed largely round Elizabeth Kitley, Ashley Owusu and Taylor Soule. The Hokies dominated Mount St. Mary’s 101-45, however the story was that it was Cayla King — not Kitley, Owusu or Soule — who led the way in which. King, a 6-0 senior, made 9 3-pointers and scored 33 factors, each profession highs. That form of long-distance taking pictures can translate to any recreation, in opposition to any opponent.

One recreation won’t be a large enough pattern measurement, however King’s outburst may very well be an necessary signal: If Virginia Tech really has a reliable fourth scorer in King to play alongside Owusu and level guard Georgia Amoore within the backcourt, the Hokies might need to be thought-about the favourite within the ACC. — Charlie Creme

Monday’s most necessary win?

Protection was essentially the most ignored facet to Creighton’s Elite Eight run in final yr’s NCAA match. The Bluejays held Iowa and Iowa State, two of the top-scoring groups within the nation, under 70 factors final March, and put the clamps on South Dakota State in Monday’s 78-69 victory, the one recreation of opening day to pit ranked groups. The nation’s most correct 3-point taking pictures workforce a season in the past, South Dakota State made solely 5-of-21 from deep in opposition to the swarming Bluejays. Junior Lauren Jensen was dominant down the stretch with seven of Creighton’s factors in a decisive 9-0 run late within the fourth quarter. She scored 16 within the closing 10 minutes and completed with 30.

The win shall be value a complete seed line in Tuesday’s Bracketology and provides Creighton a street win that the committee will love throughout its March deliberations. With video games in opposition to South Dakota and Nebraska up subsequent, the Bluejays now have the prospect on the form of begin that might vault them into the highest 15 within the rankings. — Creme

Van Lith, Louisville begin quick

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Hailey Van Lith drills the jumper vs. Cincinnati Bearcats

Louisville Cardinals 87-68 win over Cincinnati was a little bit shut for consolation at instances — the Bearcats pulled inside eight within the third regardless of trailing by as many as 23 — however junior Hailey Van Lith had the type of massive efficiency many anticipate of her as an upperclassman. Her 28 factors — the second-highest mark of her profession — led the Cardinals, and he or she did it pretty effectively on 12-for-20 taking pictures (60%). Van Lith reached that clip simply twice final yr as a sophomore, and did not try that many pictures both time (15, 16).

If the budding star can keep that effectivity, plus sink pictures past the arc (she was 2-for-7 on Monday), and Florida State Seminoles switch Morgan Jones (14 factors and 13 journeys to the free throw line versus Cincinnati) continues to search out her groove, Jeff Walz’s workforce might make the commencement of three starters a rapidly forgotten matter. — Philippou

Two tales for the Terps

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Diamond Miller stretches by means of the paint for up-and-under bucket

The dangerous: Maryland senior guard Diamond Miller — who seemed actually good early on — went to the locker room within the second quarter of the Terps’ 88-51 victory over George Mason with an obvious knee injury and didn’t return to the ground resulting from “tenderness,” based on Washington Publish reporter Kareem Copeland.

The great: Princeton switch Abby Meyers can ball whilst she adjusts to a brand new workforce, assuming the go-to scoring function for the No. 17 Terps following Miller’s harm by ending with a team-high 19 factors (and beginning the sport on 5-for 5-shooting from 3). Meyers’ taking pictures prowess is much-needed for Maryland after dropping Katie Benzan, Owusu and Chloe Bibby.

If the remainder of the items round them proceed to settle in, Maryland might shock some people within the Huge Ten regardless of a slew of exits behind Miller (assuming she’s OK) and Meyers. — Philippou

Is Soares what Cyclones have been lacking?

Ashley Joens did Ashley Joens issues (28 factors, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) in Iowa State’s 87-54 win over Cleveland State, scoring 24 factors in 18 first-half minutes. However what is perhaps extra integral to the Cyclones’ long-term improvement is how two-time NAIA participant of the yr Stephanie Soares fares. The 6-6 publish earned the beginning Monday and made her presence identified early with three blocks within the first two minutes of the sport, although she solely performed six minutes within the first half resulting from foul bother. She completed the sport with a double-double (15 factors, 14 rebounds), plus 4 blocks and 4 steals in 21 minutes.

If Soares can keep out of foul bother, hold her conditioning stepping into the fitting path and proceed to make an impression in opposition to higher-quality posts, she offers an inside presence on each ends for Iowa State that it hasn’t had in recent times, one that might assist this system attain heights not seen for over a decade. — Philippou