Ten issues we have realized within the first 10 days of the 2022-23 girls’s school basketball season

Ten days into the 2022-23 girls’s school basketball season, we have barely scratched the floor of what the following 5 months will maintain. Now all eyes flip to Sunday’s pair of top-10 video games, which can give us slightly extra knowledge to evaluate groups’ ceilings and who could possibly be respectable contenders — or challengers to South Carolina — this spring.

First, No. 5 UConn faces No. 10 NC State at 1 p.m. ET Sunday. It is the Huskies’ second consecutive top-10 opponent after they took down No. 3 Texas on Monday. These two packages final met within the 2022 Elite Eight, when the Huskies upset the Wolfpack in double-overtime behind Paige Bueckers’ 27 factors. However Bueckers (ACL) and three different main contributors from that UConn squad will not be on the ground Sunday, and neither will 4 Wolfpack starters from final yr.

Later Sunday, No. 1 South Carolina takes on No. 2 Stanford (3 p.m. ET, ABC), a rematch of each the 2021 nationwide semifinal (gained by the Cardinal) and an early-season nonconference recreation in December 2021 (gained by the Gamecocks). Preliminary pondering within the preseason held that this pair may be a step above the remainder of the sphere; to date, that seems to be the case, and these two packages may meet once more in Dallas this spring. South Carolina — which beat then-No. 17 Maryland on Nov. 11 — hasn’t misplaced to a ranked opponent because the 2021 Remaining 4, a streak the Gamecocks will look to take care of towards the Cardinal, who’ve a number of new faces and have had a straightforward nonconference slate so far.

Till then, listed here are 10 issues we have realized in regards to the season by way of its first 10 days, from standout gamers to intriguing convention races and growing patterns on the nationwide scene.

1. UConn ‘could possibly be actually, actually good … could possibly be actually, actually unhealthy’

On paper, the Huskies may have two top-10 wins by subsequent week, and Geno Auriemma could not ask for extra. Sans Bueckers, Azzi Fudd has had a historic begin to her sophomore marketing campaign, and can absolutely be within the nationwide participant of the yr dialog if she maintains this degree of productiveness.

However even in its 83-76 win over Texas, there have been apparent locations UConn should clear as much as attain a fifteenth consecutive Remaining 4: submit protection, caring for the ball (will the dearth of ball handlers meet up with the Huskies?), eliminating pointless errors, closing video games and figuring out who would be the go-to scorer(s) behind Fudd.

When requested what he realized about his staff towards Texas, Auriemma referenced what junior level guard Nika Mühl mentioned: “‘We could be really, really good, and we could be really, really bad.'” It is exhausting to think about the Huskies being “really, really bad,” and a win over a top-five staff (albeit with out engine Rori Harmon) may point out they’re higher than some anticipated. However Mühl has a degree: There’s nonetheless a whole lot of variance as to how Auriemma’s squad finally fares.

2. Promise elsewhere within the Huge East

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Creighton guard Molly Mogensen goes 4-of-5 from 3-point land within the Bluejays’ win over Nebraska.

The most recent AP High 25 ballot had simply as many Huge East groups as SEC squads. Except for UConn, no Huge East staff has been as spectacular as Creighton. The Bluejays have met and even surpassed early expectations following final season’s Elite Eight run due to wins over then-No. 23 South Dakota State and South Dakota on the highway, and a 26-point residence win Tuesday over No. 22 Nebraska. Earlier that day, a Twitter account known as Huge Sport Boomer deemed one of the best girls’s basketball staff in each state and selected … the Cornhuskers for Nebraska. The Bluejays had enjoyable trolling the decision on Twitter following their massive intra-state battle and win.

Villanova additionally knocked off then-No. 24 Princeton to sneak into this week’s AP rankings. For as dominant as Aneesah Morrow has been, DePaul’s prospects for the season are grim following losses to Northern Illinois and Cleveland State. However there’s nonetheless an opportunity for Marquette and Seton Corridor to get seems into the match area in the event that they proceed on robust trajectories.

In his newest Bracketology replace by way of Monday’s video games, ESPN’s Charlie Creme projected Creighton as a 4-seed within the NCAA match. Villanova is a No. 7 seed.

3. SEC nonetheless South Carolina’s to lose

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After tallying 16 factors and 13 rebounds within the 81-56 win over the Terrapins, Aliyah Boston says crashing the boards and No. 1 South Carolina’s roster depth was key.

If the Gamecocks play with the execution and depth it did following the scuffle between Kierra Fletcher, Kamilla Cardoso and Bri McDaniel within the Maryland recreation — and Zia Cooke and Brea Beal can proceed to shoot 3-pointers like they did in that matchup (7-for-16) — they are going to be particularly robust to beat this yr.

It is troublesome to foretell who would be the Gamecocks’ biggest challenger within the SEC — if any exists. LSU has put up 100 factors in four-straight video games, with Angel Reese averaging a double-double and freshman Flau’jae Johnson second in scoring at 14.0 factors per recreation. However how a lot can one learn into these outcomes or statistics when the Tigers have had the epitome of a cupcake schedule and will not play their first Energy 5 program till the thirteenth recreation of the season?

Tennessee, alternatively, has clearly missed Jordan Horston the previous two video games. However even when she performed towards Ohio State (and the primary quarter towards UMass), the Girl Vols weren’t precisely buzzing seamlessly. Tennessee is averaging a whopping 20.7 turnovers per recreation (Horston alone had seven within the opener towards Ohio State). Most gamers — outdoors of Rickea Jackson and Tamari Key, in addition to Tess Darby from 3 — have struggled with effectivity early, they usually have but to say their will defensively as they did most of final yr.

The excellent news? Tennessee has a chance to make up floor on the Battle 4 Atlantis Match and later towards Virginia Tech, Stanford and UConn — ideally with a wholesome Horston.

4. Louisville coping with rising pains in wide-open ACC

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Hailey Van Lith and Mykasa Robinson put the sport out of attain as Louisville grabs the tight win over Belmont.

It is nonetheless too early to find out which staff might need an edge in what’s anticipated to be essentially the most aggressive ACC race in years. Louisville, contemporary off a Remaining 4 look, has arguably had essentially the most intriguing nonconference run to date, taking part in Cincinnati, IUPUI and Belmont — the final of which went down-to-the-wire earlier than the Cardinals pulled out a 75-70 win. Hailey Van Lith has been on hearth to start out the season, however there are nonetheless rising pains as new gamers get accustomed to Jeff Walz’s system.

Louisville’s perimeter protection has been subpar in Walz’s eyes, and he was displeased with how his protection allowed the Bruins to simply get to the basket. Offensively, Van Lith hasn’t had a ton of assist but from Olivia Cochran, Chrislyn Carr or Morgan Jones, who’re all averaging fewer than 10 factors on fewer than eight makes an attempt per recreation.

As a former All-ACC First Group participant, Jones is a major candidate to emerge as a extra impactful scorer. “She’ll continue to get better,” Walz mentioned after the Belmont win. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

5. Huge Ten battle could possibly be extra fascinating than anticipated

Iowa was our unanimous preseason choose to win the Huge Ten, however Indiana and Ohio State may get extra severe consideration if we did the ballot once more now. The Hoosiers are coming off an enormous win over Tennessee, a recreation wherein Grace Berger was 4 assists away from a triple-double. Ohio State shined on the defensive finish with its press towards Tennessee, forcing 29 turnovers, whereas Rebeka Mikulasikova has been an ideal complement inside to the 1-2 punch of Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell.

All three groups are inside the highest 12 within the newest AP ballot. And nobody’s saying Iowa is in bother, however its extra time win over Drake — plus the persistence of the standard issues we have seen lately from the Hawkeyes, resembling shaky protection or not sufficient assist for Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano — did not instill a whole lot of confidence.

6. Sufficient with the accidents!

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Aijha Blackwell leads the Baylor Bears to victory over Incarnate Phrase with a 23-point efficiency.

Not even two weeks into the season, we have already had 4 of our preseason prime 25 gamers miss time with accidents: Baylor’s Aijha Blackwell, Horston, Harmon and Maryland’s Diamond Miller (who solely ended up lacking one recreation, however it was a giant one: vs. South Carolina). And that is not together with a slew of gamers who had been deemed out for the yr earlier than the season even began.

Harmon (toe) and Horston (decrease extremity damage) are thought of day-to-day, whereas Blackwell’s standing is unknown. Hopefully none of those points final long-term, however their absences in massive video games is a bummer for followers and can make it more durable to evaluate nonconference résumés come March.

7. Level guards taking part in underrated position in South Carolina-Stanford

All the eye going into this 1-versus-2 matchup, rightfully so, can be on every staff’s possible lottery choose — Aliyah Boston for the Gamecocks and Haley Jones for the Cardinal — and even the submit showdown between Boston and Cameron Brink. One underappreciated matchup? How each groups fare with new level guards nonetheless discovering their footing.

South Carolina is wanting towards redshirt freshman Raven Johnson and graduate switch Kierra Fletcher to exchange Destanni Henderson. And following Anna Wilson’s commencement, the plan was for Jones to be the first level guard for Stanford, however freshman Talana Lepolo earned the beginning the previous two video games, boasting 29 assists and 10 turnovers in 104 minutes on the season. Do not overlook the significance this place group has in organising the offense and getting their All-People the ball.

8. Utes personal Pac-12’s greatest stunner to date

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Gianna Kneepkens knocks down the triple

Stanford has breezed by way of its comparatively simple nonconference opponents with a 46.6-point common margin of victory. However the Pac-12’s first win over a ranked squad did not come from the Cardinal: No. 25 Utah thrashed visiting Oklahoma (No. 16), which was on the tail-end of a back-to-back. Gianna Kneepkens, Kennady McQueen and Alissa Pili completed with 20-plus factors apiece.

Arizona and Oregon additionally stay ranked at No. 18 and No. 21, respectively. It’s going to be fascinating to see how the Geese, who’re led by freshman Grace VanSlooten, do on the upcoming Phil Knight Invitational, the place they will face North Carolina and both Iowa State or Michigan State.

9. Nonetheless ready for Huge 12 ‘race’ to emerge

The Huge 12 was speculated to have a captivating race, one the place our panel predicted the Baylor Bears streak of 12 consecutive regular-season titles would finish. To this point, Iowa State has been essentially the most constant staff, although Northern Iowa took them to the wire within the ultimate seconds of a fierce intra-state matchup Wednesday. Texas regarded weak towards UConn, however had been lacking Harmon, who makes the entire operation work on each ends. Along with her wholesome, it is quite a bit simpler to see all their gifted items beginning to work collectively.

Baylor has handled a number of participant absences/accidents, whereas Oklahoma may take a steep tumble within the rankings after getting trounced by Utah.

Iowa State and Texas possible nonetheless have one of the best probabilities at successful the league, however issues may definitely get fascinating. Texas may even be the favourite if its protection progresses to the extent Vic Schaefer envisions.

10. Missouri Valley may be a two-bid league

Creme had Belmont — which acquired votes within the newest AP ballot after almost beating Louisville — because the Missouri Valley Convention’s computerized qualifier on Monday (Belmont misplaced 80-62 to Center Tennessee on Wednesday). However is it attainable the MVC finally ends up a multiple-bid league? He had Northern Iowa within the “Next Four Out” earlier than they rallied late to take the lead over Iowa State earlier than finally dropping by three factors Wednesday.

Drake additionally turned some heads with its extra time push towards Iowa. Some upcoming matchups to regulate: No. 22 Nebraska at Drake on Saturday in addition to Belmont at No. 4 Iowa and No. 20 Creighton at UNI on Sunday.