Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Women’s college basketball ballot breakdown | Drama in Baton Rouge?

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Before the full AP Top 25 women’s rankings are revealed around 11 a.m. on Monday, here’s The News-Gazette’s Top 25 ballot, as voted by women’s college basketball and Illini beat writer Joe Vozzelli, with his previous rankings for each team also listed:

Rk., Team Prev.

1. South Carolina 2

2. UCLA 3

3. Colorado 8

4. Stanford 7

5. Connecticut 5

6. LSU 4

7. Iowa 1

8. Utah 6

9. Florida State 9

10. Southern California 10

11. Virginia Tech 11

12. Texas 12

13. Notre Dame 15

14. Ohio State 13

15. North Carolina State 18

16. Baylor 20

17. Tennessee 14

18. Indiana 16

19. Kansas State NR

20. Oklahoma 19

21. Louisville 21

22. North Carolina 22

23. Mississippi State 23

24. Mississippi 25

25. Maryland 17


UCLA and USC. The two Los Angeles-based programs are in the top 10 ahead of their move to the Big Ten next season. The Bruins have been built by coach Cori Close around some talented recruiting classes, a key transfer portal addition (Lauren Betts) and veteran presence in fifth-year guard Charisma Osborne. Betts, a former No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2022 who transferred to Westwood after one season at Stanford, is averaging 19.5 points and 10.8 rebounds as a 6-foot-7 sophomore center. Meanwhile, across town in downtown L.A., five of the top-eight players in Lindsay Gottlieb‘s Trojans rotation are non-seniors, led by a freshman sensation in 6-2 guard JuJu Watkins (28.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg) from Sierra Canyon High School.


LSU. And not for on-the-court reasons. Well, sort of. The defending champion Tigers took care of Kent State and Southeastern Louisiana this past week. But not without drama amid a rift between LSU star Angel Reese and coach Kim Mulkey. Reese was not with the team on Friday in a 73-50 win against Southeastern Louisiana after Mulkey made a “coach’s decision” to bench the junior forward and the Women’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player last spring for the second half of the previous game. Mulkey offered few details on the situation postgame after the Southeastern Louisiana win, other than: “Angel is a part of this basketball team and we hope to see her sooner than later.” Reese responded on Sunday with a straightforward social media message. “Please don’t believe everything you read,” Reese wrote. Oh, boy!


It’s Thanksgiving tournament week, with the Women’s Paradise Jam one of the top events, as Colorado, North Carolina State and Texas are all in the field. Saturday’s Colorado-N.C. State noon matchup (ESPN+) in the U.S. Virgin Islands is one of five games in the upcoming week that will feature two AP Top 25 teams. The Buffaloes (4-0) and Wolfpack (4-0) have both vaulted up the rankings with impressive wins against LSU and Connecticut, respectively.

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