Louisville and North Carolina State both survived upset bids by unranked teams to remain the top two teams in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll released Monday.
The No. 1 Cardinals needed a late basket from Dana Evans to stave off Wake Forest on Sunday while the second-ranked Wolfpack had to rally from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter to beat Virginia Tech a few hours later.
Louisville received 22 of the 30 first-place votes from a national media panel while N.C. State garnered five. The two teams will meet next Monday in a makeup of their game postponed because of COVID-19 issues.
N.C. State was playing its first game since Jan. 3 after the team was paused because of the coronavirus. The Wolfpack were still missing their star Elissa Cunane because of the virus. They are hoping to have her back by the beginning of February.
“We’re fortunate, she’s not feeling too bad,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said.
They weren’t the only top teams to face stiff challenges in the past few days as third-ranked UConn fended off then-No. 25 Tennessee and No. 4 South Carolina edged LSU.
Fifth-ranked UCLA switched places with No. 6 Stanford in the poll after beating the Cardinal on Friday. The ranking matches the highest the Bruins have had in the past 22 years when they were also fifth in 2017. Before that, they hadn’t been ranked that high since 1999.
The rest of the top 10 stayed intact with Maryland, Texas A&M, Baylor and Arizona remaining in their spots. West Virginia and South Dakota State entered the poll this week at No. 24 and 25 while Iowa State and Syracuse dropped out.
Michigan lost its first game of the season this past week, dropping one spot to 12th in the poll, despite a 50-point effort by Naz Hillmon in the defeat to rival Ohio State. The Wolverines got some worse news Saturday night when the entire athletic department announced it was pausing after several positive tests for the new COVID-19 variant that spreads at a higher rate. The Wolverines will miss at least their next four games.
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Arizona at UCLA, Sunday. The Wildcats won the first meeting between the teams by three points and Bruins would love to split the season series and remain in contention for a Pac-12 regular season championship. The two teams as well as Stanford all have two conference losses so far this season.