Stanford remained No. 1 in both women’s college basketball polls this week, and although the Cardinal retained the exact same slim lead over No. 2 Connecticut in the Associated Press poll, Stanford lengthened its lead slightly in the USA Today coaches poll for some unknown reason.
Typically, some voters change their minds over the course of a week, even if the teams involved win all their games, but the media voters in the AP poll seem pretty sure of themselves when it comes to assessing the Cardinal and UConn at the moment.
Last week, when the Cardinal was ranked No. 1 for the first time since 2005, Stanford earned 21 first-place votes and 953 total voting points in the AP poll. This week, the Cardinal had the exact same numbers – 21 first-place votes and 953 points. UConn also had the same numbers as last week — 17 first-place votes and 944 points, leaving the Cardinal with that same small nine-point margin over UConn.
The coaches were not quite so consistent. After getting 17 first-place votes in the USA Today coaches poll last week, the Cardinal got 21 first-place votes this week, while UConn’s first-place votes went down from 12 to nine.
The nine-point lead Stanford had in the USA Today poll last week was increased to 20 points this week. What Stanford did to sway those few voters to its side is anyone’s guess, because UConn had the more impressive results during the week. The Huskies won three games in routs, including a 34-point victory over No. 14 Purdue, while Stanford clobbered unranked Long Beach State in its only game of the week. Maybe the magnitude of Stanford’s victory over Baylor finally sank in.
Stanford and UConn could be ranked No. 1 and 2 when they meet at Stanford on Dec. 29, but both teams have tough games before that. UConn plays No. 11 Maryland on Dec. 3 and No. 6 Penn State on Dec. 6, but both those games are on one of the Huskies’ two home courts, where the Huskies virtually never lose. The Huskies play Penn State in Hartford, Conn., and face Penn State at the Huskies’ on-campus facility in Storrs. Conn.
Stanford has two challenging games before facing UConn. The Cardinal goes up to Gonzaga on Sunday to face the Zags, whose only loss was to No. 7 Louisville and is particularly tough on their home court, and on Dec. 22 plays a road game against No. 16 Tennessee, which has already beaten two ranked teams, Miami and Georgia Tech, both decisively and both on the road. The Vols apparently are better than expected in their first season without Pat Summitt.
Meanwhile, Cal climbed into the top 10 in the AP poll for the first time this season, coming in at No, 10. It is No. 11 in the coaches poll.
The Golden Bears are 5-0 and have not had a close game yet. Their closest game was a 16-point win over Georgetown.
A third Pac-12 team, UCLA, is also ranked. Unranked in preseason, the Bruins are No. 19 in the AP poll and No. 21 in the USA Today poll, having beaten then-No. 11 Oklahoma and losing to No. 5 Notre Dame.