Breaking down Indiana’s historically bad defense, and why their season’s at a crossroads

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

DURHAM, N.C. — Before we can talk about what’s wrong with Indiana on the defensive end of the floor, before we can even think about discussing how to fix the issues that are plaguing the Hoosiers, we need to understand just how bad things are right now.

On Wednesday night, the Hoosiers went into Cameron Indoor Stadium — a place where Duke hasn’t lost a non-conference home game since Feb. 26, 2000 — and shot 50.7 percent from the floor, hitting 7-for-17 from beyond the arc while turning the ball over just nine times. They finished the night scoring 1.19 points-per-possession (PPP).

On the road.

Against the No. 7 team in the country.

And they lost by 20.

That’s incredibly difficult to do.

But that’s what happens when a defense allows an opponent to more-or-less look like the Harlem Globetrotters. Chew on this for a minute: Duke finished the night, according to KenPom, scoring 1.52 PPP, an insanely high number regardless of who the opponent is. This didn’t come against some run-of-the-mill opponent that Duke paid five figures to fill a spot on their schedule. It came against Indiana. The last time a team scored more than 1.5 PPP against a high-major opponent came in March of 2011, when Ohio State whipped up on Wisconsin at home.

That night, the Buckeyes shot 14-for-15 from three.

That was an NCAA record.

So it’s not exactly stretching the truth to say that Indiana, on Wednesday night in Durham, North Carolina, put together one of the worst defensive performances in NCAA history.


“I’m sure they would have wanted to play better defense,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said after the game. “But we were playing good offense.”

“For a period of time there, we just kind of scored.”

Once we get past the analytical breakdowns, once we get over the discussion of whether or not Indiana should be a man-to-man team or strictly play zone or continue to throw junk defense after junk defense out there, hoping the powerhouses in the Big Ten aren’t as adept at figuring them out as Duke was on Wednesday, what you come down to is that quote from Krzyzewski.

A quote as unintentionally damning as any of Duke’s 19 offensive rebounds or 11 three-pointers.

“For a period of time there, we just kind of scored.”

And he’s right.

Indiana was up 24-20 with 9:30 left in the first half and Duke proceeded to close the half with a 31-18 run in which they scored on 14 of their 15 possessions. Twice, during that stretch, the Blue Devils got offensive rebounds off of missed free throws, which is inexcusable.

Here’s the kicker: Duke really didn’t do anything complicated offensively. This wasn’t some magisterial coaching performance by the man with more wins than any one else in the sport, the discovery of a fatal flaw in Indiana’s defensive schemes. Duke’s game-plan was as simple as simple gets. They wanted to isolate Bryant in ball-screen actions against man-to-man because Bryant cannot guard ball-screen actions against man-to-man. They wanted to attack Indiana’s defenders off the dribble because Indiana’s perimeter players can’t stop dribble penetration. They wanted to get Jefferson the ball in the high-post against IU’s zone because Jefferson could distribute from that spot on the floor. And they wanted to attack the offensive glass because Indiana’s front line has no idea the kind of physicality that it takes to rebound the ball at this level.

That’s basic stuff.

And Indiana let them do it, all of it. Whatever Duke wanted to do on Wednesday, they did.

The part that frustrates the Hoosier faithful, the reason that my mentions on twitter filled with vitriolic tweets from people with red IU logos in their avatar every time I happened to mention Indiana’s defense, is that none of this is new. None of it is. Not just this season, either. This was Indiana’s issue last year, when they finished 214th nationally in defensive efficiency despite having one of the nation’s ten most potent offensive.

I spoke with multiple coaches that have handled scouting and game-planning for the Hoosiers, and the answers were all the same. They were all answers that I probably could have gotten if I just talked to the Cameron Crazies sitting behind me:

  • “They’ve been awful in ball-screen coverages. Watching the tapes of the [their] games, against their man-to-man defense, we wanted to take advantage of that.”
  • “We wanted to put them in as many step-up ball screens as possible to get our guards going down hill, let our guards try to come off it and make plays.”
  • “You slow them down offensively by making them take the ball out of bounds.”

That last quote is an angle I didn’t even think about until.

This Indiana team really is an offensive juggernaut. They were last year and they are again this year. They have a trio of guards who are really difficult to keep out of the lane, they’re loaded with shooters and Troy Williams is a matchup nightmare at the four spot, but perhaps more than anything, where they’re the most dangerous is in transition because it’s just so difficult to locate all of the guys that are able to shoot on this team.

But that transition game, that potent offensive attack gets hurt because IU can’t get stops, meaning they can’t get out and run, meaning the best part of their offensive arsenal is limited because they’re unable to get stops.

The way that I see it at this point, there are two main issues with Indiana’s defense. One of them is fixable, and one of them may not be:

The biggest issue at this point is that the Hoosiers are not a team with a defensive identity. Case in point: when you play Duke, you know what they are going to do on the defensive end of the floor. Opposing coaches don’t even need to bother watching them on that end of the floor. They can use the same scouting reports that they did 20 years ago.

The Blue Devils play half-court man-to-man. They extend their defense on the wings, taking away swing passes, and they switch all exchanges 1-through-4. What this does is eliminate the ability for opponents to get into their sets and run their offense and forces offenses to rely heavily on the ability of their guards to make plays going one-on-one. They also don’t want to help on drives, particularly when they’re playing a team like Indiana, a team with a myriad of snipers salivating for their next rhythm, catch-and-shoot three. It puts the onus on individual perimeter defenders. They have to stop their man or they’re giving up a bucket. This is why teams with talented play makers in the back court — like, for example, Miami last season — have success against Duke.

Indiana doesn’t have an identity defensively.

I spent my Wednesday night sitting court side, trying to track what the Hoosiers were doing defensively. I counted at least five different defenses that they played: man, a 2-3 zone, a 1-1-3 zone, a 1-2-2 press and a defense where they switched between man and zone in the middle of the possession.

“They were going man and then turning their man to a zone,” Jefferson said. “It was really weird. You don’t see that a lot. It was kind of different.”

The problem was that it was difficult to identify what, exactly, they were running because, at times, I’m not convinced the players actually knew themselves. It was unnecessarily complicated, and when you’re a team that’s struggling to find their way on the defensive end of the floor, the answer isn’t to start trying a myriad of junk defenses.

“No question you have to simplify,” one high major coach told “Be good at one defense. Focus on doing one right. If you try to have an elaborate defensive package, you’ll end up being lukewarm at them all. They need to analyze what they do best and stick to it.”

As of today, according to Synergy’s logs, Indiana’s man-to-man defense is their best defense, at least on a per-possession basis. But the problem is that A) that man defense isn’t very good at all, and B) those numbers don’t factor in that they’ve played games against teams like Alcorn State, Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay.

Talk to the coaches that scout them, that game-plan for them, and it’s fairly clear: Indiana cannot play man-to-man, not unless they get markedly better at it. Crean knows this. His press conference after last night’s loss lasted all of four minutes and three questions from the media. And when he wasn’t snapping at reporters for asking if he was concerned about just how atrocious his team was defensively, he repeatedly said things like “We were not nearly good enough on the ball tonight defensively” or “We didn’t get enough rebounds.” He made sure to point out — three times — that it’s only December 3rd and we’re only eight games into the season. They have time to get better.

But where Crean believes the issues they have defensively are a result of effort and execution, that may not actually be the case.

Which brings me to Indiana’s second issue:

“I don’t think it’s an effort thing. A lot of it’s personnel driven,” another high-major coach said. “I don’t know if they’ve got the quickest bigs. That has a lot to do with it. I think you’re going to see them play more zone as the year goes on because of it, because everyone is going to take advantage of [their man defense].”

Bryant just isn’t ready to be the game-changing defensive presence we thought he would be, and that’s not something that is an indictment on Crean or Bryant. He’s a freshman big man and freshmen big men tend to take time to adjust to the college level. In high school, they’re essentially told to stand in the paint, be really tall and get the rebounds and block the shots that tall people are supposed to.


He has to learn defensive schemes and be able to move his feet on the perimeter. He has to deal with trying to rebound the ball against the likes of Marshall Plumlee, a physical 7-foot senior that spent the summer in the national guard, and Amile Jefferson, as savvy of a college four as you’re going to find.

It would be best if he could be a complimentary piece to a front line at this point, much the way Diamond Stone is at Maryland.

But Indiana doesn’t have that luxury. Hanner Mosquera-Perea is gone. Emmitt Holt is gone. If Bryant isn’t in the game, Crean’s center is Max Bielfeldt, a 6-foot-7 land warrior that averaged career-highs of 5.1 points and 3.6 boards as a redshirt junior at Michigan last season.

Ready or not, Bryant has to play.


That is the crux of Indiana’s issues defensively, and I promise that I’m not trying to pin this all on the play of a freshman. That’s not fair. If anything, the blame falls on the coach — and the former players that prioritized weed and booze over playing for the Hoosiers —  for putting him in a situation where he has to play 30 minutes a night.

There’s so much more at play here.

James Blackmon Jr., Yogi Ferrell and Robert Johnson are all quick enough to be very good perimeter defenders if they want to be. To this point in the season, they haven’t been.

Troy Williams has the athleticism to be a game-changer in this system, a guy that can grab a defensive rebound and lead the break himself. He didn’t get a rebound in the first half and finished with just three on the night.

Speaking of rebounding, Duke grabbed 19 of an available 35 offensive rebounds. That should never happen. Bryant goose-egged on the glass.


Indiana’s starting center didn’t get a single rebound in a game where Duke got 19 offensive rebounds. The Hoosiers leading rebounder was Robert Johnson, who grabbed six boards. Two of them came in the final five minutes which is the only reason that Indiana’s leading rebounder was “deadball rebounds”, a stat used when a carom goes out of bound and ends up in their possession.

Indiana’s personnel isn’t ideal, but the effort isn’t there, either.

They were humiliated on national television on Wednesday night, putting their season at a crossroads. If things don’t change, if the Hoosiers can’t figure out a way to play with pride defensively, they’re going to end up missing the NCAA tournament.

And Crean may not be able to last the season in the pressure-cooker that Bloomington has become.

No. 4 Arizona turning heads early in the season

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TUCSON, Ariz. — Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd knew there was talent on his roster. He wasn’t exactly sure how good the team would be.

The former longtime Gonzaga assistant had a similar view of last year’s team and that one turned out to be pretty good, running all the way to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

This year’s team could end up being even better.

Buoyed by transfers and improved returning players, Arizona has rolled through the early part of its schedule, climbing to No. 4 in this week’s AP Top 25 after winning the Maui Invitational.

“I learned that we’re good,” Lloyd said. “We’re tough. We’re gritty. I think there’s going to be some great things for us to really double down on and some things to show our guys where we went the wrong way.”

Lloyd had a superb first season in the desert, earning coach of the year honors last season with a team that lost three players to the NBA.

The Wildcats (6-0) had to replace three NBA players again this season. Again, they made a seamless transition.

Improvement on the part of the returning players has been a big part of it.

Oumar Ballo, considered a project as a freshman at Gonzaga, has transformed into one of the nation’s best big men. The 7-foot, 260-pound center from Mali has vastly improved his footwork and developed patience in the post, setting himself up for good shots instead of trying to bull his way to the basket.

Ballo is averaging 19 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 76.7% from the field, fourth-best nationally. He was named Maui Invitational MVP after finishing with 30 points and 13 rebounds against No. 7 Creighton in the title game.

Not bad for a player who averaged 2.5 points and 6.3 minutes per game two years ago at Gonzaga.

“When he struggled, I still believed in him,” Lloyd said. “I didn’t need for him to be instantly successful for me to reaffirm my belief in him. When he struggled, we continued to love him and work with him and then he continued to hang in there and I think it is a great story.”

Fellow big man Azuolas Tubelis has made a few strides of his own, adding strength and toughness to his athletic, fluid game. The 6-10 forward leads Arizona with 19.3 points per game while grabbing 8.0 rebounds.

Fiery point guard Kerr Kriisa has rounded into a reliable floor leader, averaging 15.3 points and 7.5 assists while shooting 51% from the 3-point arc.

“I don’t pay attention to the antics because they don’t mean anything to me,” Lloyd said. “I know maybe that draws attention to him from other people but when it comes to just pure basketball, I mean he is doing a good job and I think he is really showing something.”

So is Courtney Ramey.

The Texas transfer has given the Wildcats a huge boost in his first season in Tucson, providing hounding defense, leadership and another scoring option. He’s averaging 16 points per game and has hit 10 of 16 from 3-point range so far this season.

Campbell transfer Cedric Henderson Jr. has provided an athletic lift off the bench and 7-foot Estonian Henri Veesaar has given Arizona solid minutes.

The mix of new and old has helped Arizona lead the nation with 97.5 points a game and rank second with 21.8 assists per game. The Wildcats climbed 10 spots in this week’s poll after wins over Cincinnati, No. 24 San Diego State and Creighton.

Arizona opens Pac-12 play Thursday at Utah.

“It was good to get the recognition, but we’re not satisfied,” Ramey said. “Our ultimate goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the season and be the final two teams playing, so I think the regular season matters but it’s not the ultimate goal for us.”

The Wildcats are certainly off to a good start.

Gardner, No. 3 Virginia rally for 70-68 win at Michigan

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Tony Bennett’s team passed all its tests in the opening month of the season.

Jayden Gardner made a go-ahead jumper with 39.9 seconds left and blocked Jett Howard’s 3-point shot just before the buzzer, allowing No. 3 Virginia to stay undefeated with a 70-68 win over Michigan in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers (6-0) won their first true road game against a team that was ranked in the first two polls this season, a little more than a week after beating then-No. 5 Baylor and then-No. 19 Illinois in Las Vegas.

“It got pretty intense in here,” Bennett said.

Virginia trailed by 11 points at halftime, rallied to go ahead with 7:25 left and built a five-point lead that didn’t last.

The Wolverines (5-2) went ahead 66-65 at the 1:42 mark when Hunter Dickinson made one of two free throws.

Michigan missed chances to stay or go ahead when Dickinson missed a hook shot with 1:01 to go and Princeton transfer Jaelin Llewellyn turned the ball over with 16 seconds left.

“Hunter has made that running hook before,” coach Juwan Howard said. “The turnover, yes, down the stretch, it hurt, but overall that’s not the reason we lost the ballgame.

“We could’ve easily put our heads down when they came out in the second half and made a run.”

Reece Beekman, who finished with 18 points, stepped in front of Llewellyn’s pass in the final minute and made one of two free throws.

Virginia’s Armaan Franklin missed two free throws with 5.7 seconds left, giving Michigan a chance to extend or win the game. Howard took a contested shot beyond the 3-point arc on the right wing – near his father, Michigan’s coach – and Gardner came up with the block against the freshman guard while Wolverines coaches and players screamed for a foul call.

It appeared that Gardner got all ball on the block.

Kihei Clark scored 16 points, Gardner had 12, Kadin Shedrick fouled out with 12 points and Ben Vander Plas added 10 for the balanced Cavaliers.

“You need different guys, and that’s what it takes, to make plays offensively and defensively,” Bennett said.

Dickinson scored 23 points, Jett Howard had 11 of his 15 in the first half and Kobe Bufkin added 11 points for Michigan.

“Jett is a gamer, he’s going to compete no matter what,” Juwan Howard said. “He’s loved basketball since he was a little baby boy.

“He’s going to help us win a lot of games this year.”

The Wolverines started slowly, trailing 9-2 in the opening minutes, before Howard scored eight points to lead a 13-2 run. Michigan led 45-34 at halftime when Bufkin made a layup after a steal.

“We can’t be sloppy like that on the defensive end, but we did battle hard in the second half,” Bennett said.

Vander Plas scored nine points during an 11-2 run that put Virginia ahead 65-60. The Cavaliers then went 4 1/2 minutes without a basket before Gardner’s big shot.


Virginia: The Cavaliers have their highest ranking since the 2018-19 season – which ended with a national title – and are off to their best start since being 7-0 three years ago. The team continues to honor the memory of three football players who were fatally shot on campus earlier this month, wearing warmup jerseys with their names.

Michigan: Juwan Howard’s team matched up well in its first game against a ranked opponent this season.

“When we come out with the effort like we did today for 40 minutes, I love our chances against any college team in the country,” he said.


Virginia: Hosts Florida State (1-7) on Saturday.

Michigan: Plays No. 19 Kentucky (5-2) on Sunday in London.

Marquette’s defense overwhelms No. 6 Baylor in 96-70 win

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MILWAUKEE – Marquette has developed a habit under Shaka Smart of saving its top performances for the best opponents on its schedule.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper scored 24 points and Marquette capitalized on a dominant start from its defense to roll past No. 6 Baylor 96-70 on Tuesday night in the Big 12-Big East Battle. This was the highest-ranked team Marquette (6-2) has beaten under Smart and the Golden Eagles improved to to 7-6 against AP Top 25 squads in his tenure.

“Most of the time against these great teams, they don’t have us winning that game,” said David Joplin, who scored 19 points. “We just come out, we want to go out and prove everybody wrong. And that feeling, that chip makes us play so much better.”

Marquette nearly produced its most lopsided victory against a Top 25 team. The Golden Eagles trounced No. 16 Providence 88-56 on Jan. 4 in Smart’s debut season.

“When you go into a game and the game is bigger in the minds of your players than anything else, to me that’s the best recipe for winning,” Smart said. “It should be that way all the time, but human nature sometimes messes with that.”

Marquette’s defense embarrassed a highly regarded Baylor backcourt.

The Golden Eagles raced to a 51-25 halftime lead thanks to a 24-0 edge in points off turnovers. Baylor (5-2) already had a season-high 16 turnovers by halftime.

Baylor entered Tuesday ranked third among Division I teams in assist-turnover margin. The Bears had 20 turnovers and 12 assists against Marquette.

“I didn’t see that coming,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Credit the crowd. Credit them for building momentum. Credit Shaka for having them prepared and how hard they played. At the end of the day, we fed to the fire by turning it over and making some uncharacteristic mistakes.”

Prosper scored 10 points and sank two 3-pointers during a 23-2 run that turned an early 7-2 deficit into a 25-9 advantage. Chase Ross capped the spurt by getting a steal and throwing down a left-handed dunk.

Baylor never cut Marquette’s lead below 22 points in the second half.

Kam Jones had 20 points as Marquette shot 58.3% overall to win its third straight. The Golden Eagles shot 12 of 25 from 3-point range, with Jones going 4 of 7 and Prosper and Joplin each going 3 of 4.

Baylor’s LJ Cryer had 17 of his 19 points, in the second half. Adam Flagler had 16 and Keyonte George added 12 for the Bears.


Baylor: The Bears shot 48.2% (27 of 56) but had no answers for Marquette’s defense and dug too deep a hole. Baylor rallied from a 25-deficit to force overtime in an NCAA Tournament loss to North Carolina last season, but the Bears never mounted any kind of comeback Tuesday.

Marquette: After losing to Purdue and Mississippi State earlier this season, the Golden Eagles delivered the kind of performance that showed they’re capable of beating anyone. Marquette will try to prove that again when it hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.


The Big 12-Big East Battle started Tuesday and runs through Sunday. Last season’s Big 12-Big East Battle ended in a 5-5 tie.


Marquette came out of its locker room wearing shirts with No. 24 to honor George Thompson, who died in June of complications from diabetes. Thompson played for Marquette from 1967-69, and he was the school’s career scoring leader for 40 years.

Tuesday would have been Thompson’s 75th birthday. A No. 24 banner with Thompson’s name hangs from the Fiserv Forum rafters.

“I really felt like we needed to win tonight to honor George,” Smart said. “If you make it George Thompson Night, you couldn’t lose.”


Baylor: Faces No. 14 Gonzaga on Friday in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Marquette: Hosts Wisconsin on Saturday.

Houston reaches No. 1 in AP poll for first time since 1983

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Make some room, Phi Slama Jama. Another Houston team has reached the top of men’s college basketball.

Nearly four decades after Clyde Drexler and Akeem Olajuwon took the Cougars to No. 1, the latest bunch led by Marcus Sasser and star freshman Jarace Walker took over the top spot in the AP Top 25. They received 45 of 63 first-place votes from the national media panel, easily outdistancing second-place Texas and third-place Virginia.

“It’s not like we went online and applied for it and waited for a response back. We’ve been working for this,” said Houston coach Kelvin Sampson, whose team is coming off a Final Four and Elite Eight trip the past two seasons. “But remember, it’s a rental. You don’t own it. You’re just renting it because someday somebody else is going to be No. 1.”

North Carolina had been No. 1 all season, but the Tar Heels lost to Iowa State and in a four-overtime thriller to Alabama at the Phil Knight Invitational to cede the top spot to Houston, which beat Kent State in its only game last week.

The last time the Cougars ascended to No. 1 was the final poll of the 1982-83 season, when “The Glide” and “The Dream” along with coach Guy Lewis were the favorites to win it all. They rolled through the NCAA Tournament before falling to Jim Valvano and North Carolina State in an iconic championship game in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

“I’ve never been ranked No. 1,” said Sampson, now in his 34th season as a college basketball coach. “We were ranked all 12 years at Oklahoma. I’m sure we were ranked at Indiana. Then we’ve been ranked five or six straight years. We’re used to having a high level of success.”

Texas received eight first-place votes and Virginia received two. Arizona climbed from 14th to fourth after emerging from a stacked field to win the Maui Invitational. Purdue jumped from 24th all the way to fifth and scooped up eight first-place votes after beating West Virginia, Gonzaga and Duke at the Phil Knight Legacy tourney.

“Our guys are competitive. They’re fun to coach. They get along. They’re out there playing with purpose and that’s what you have to have,” said Boilermakers coach Matt Painter, whose team was briefly No. 1 about this time last season.

“Early in the season, very few teams play with the purpose collectively,” he said. “I thought our guys played with a purpose.”

Baylor was sixth, Creighton seventh and U Conn climbed from 20th to eighth after beating Oregon, Alabama and Iowa State to win the Phil Knight Invitational. Kansas fell from third to ninth after losing to Tennessee in the championship game of the Battle 4 Atlantis, while Indiana rounded out the top 10.

There was a tie for 11th between SEC rivals Alabama and Arkansas with the Volunteers, another conference foe, right behind them. Gonzaga dropped from sixth to 14th, its first time outside the top 10 since Feb. 5, 2018, and Auburn was 15th.

Illinois was next followed by Duke and North Carolina in a tough week for Tobacco Road. The Blue Devils fell from eighth after their 75-56 loss to the Boilermakers.

Kentucky and Michigan State joined UCLA, Maryland, Iowa State, San Diego State and Ohio State in rounding out the poll.


Purdue made a rare 19-spot jump as the poll underwent a massive shakeup. UConn climbed 12 spots, Arizona moved up 10, Tennessee climbed nine and Alabama seven. On the flip side, the Tar Heels tumbled 17 spots, Duke dropped nine, Gonzaga fell eight and San Diego State fell seven.


Despite all the movement, Iowa State was the only newcomer this week, checking in at No. 23 after beating Villanova and North Carolina before falling to UConn. The Cyclones replaced Iowa, which dropped out after a one-week stay following its loss to TCU in the title game of the Emerald Coast Classic.


There are six difference conferences represented in the first seven teams in the poll. The Big Ten leads the way with six in the Top 25 while the SEC has five and the Big 12 has four, though three of them are in the top 10.

South Carolina tops women’s AP Top 25; Stanford, UConn next

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South Carolina remained the unanimous No. 1 choice in The Associated Press women’s poll, as the Gamecocks keep close watch on the foot injury of reigning Player of the Year Aliyah Boston.

The Gamecocks received all 29 first-place votes in the poll, a day after Boston left a game with her injury. Coach Dawn Staley said Boston was “questionable” going forward but added that the “team doctor wasn’t too, too concerned.”

South Carolina’s next game is at home against No. 15 UCLA.

Stanford remained No. 2 after cruising through a tournament in Hawaii. It’s the 618th appearance for Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer, tying the late Pat Summitt for most all-time. Summitt’s teams only missed being in the poll 14 times during her Hall of Fame career at Tennessee.

UConn, Ohio State and Indiana rounded out the top five.

The Huskies are one of four Big East teams to be ranked this week as Marquette entered the poll at No. 24. It’s the first time the Big East has four ranked teams since the conference realigned in 2014. The league is 56-14 so far this season, including going 8-2 against ranked teams.

“We’ve been trying to earn a little more respect,” Marquette coach Megan Duffy said of the Big East. “Tried to schedule tougher non-conference (games). ‘Nova’s playing people. Us going to the Bahamas was great. Creighton’s doing what they’ve been doing since last season. Getting some of those quality wins is everything.”

North Carolina moved up two spots to No. 6 after rallying to beat then-No. 5 Iowa State in the Phil Knight tournament. The Cyclones fell to eighth.

The Tar Heels visit the Hoosiers on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. Indiana returns home after winning two games in Las Vegas at a subpar venue that lacked basic necessities.

Notre Dame remained No. 7 while Virginia Tech and Iowa finished off the top 10. At No. 9, Virginia Tech has matched its best ranking ever and is in the top 10 for the first time since 1999.

Tennessee fell out of the poll this week marking the 56th time in the 827-week history of the poll that the Lady Vols weren’t ranked. Kansas State also fell out with Gonzaga moving in at No. 23.


Louisville dropped to 18th in the poll this week after falling to South Dakota State in the fifth place game at the Battle 4 Atlantis last week. It’s the Cardinals lowest ranking since Jan. 11, 2016.

Louisville entered the top 10 in the preseason poll in 2017 and hadn’t been out since, a span of 98 consecutive weeks. It was the longest active streak.

“It’s a compliment to the consistency that we built here,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said of being ranked in the top 10 for so long. “Obviously are goal would have been to stay in the top 10, but it’s a new team and growing.”