Behind the Ballot: Iowa and Kentucky win conferences in convincing fashion 

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Hello all and welcome back to my weekly column called ‘Behind the Ballot,’ where I will share my Top 25 women’s basketball rankings that I submit to be included in the Student Media Poll. The SMP is a weekly basketball poll, voted on by student journalists from around the country from a variety of different college newspapers. And, I am fortunate enough to serve as a women’s basketball voter. I looked at previous rankings and games from the past week to determine my weekly ballot. This will be the last edition of ‘Behind the Ballot’ until the final rankings come out in April! With that being said, let’s jump into this week’s rankings!  

  1. South Carolina 
  1. Stanford 
  1. NC State 
  1. Baylor 
  1. UConn 
  1. LSU 
  1. Louisville 
  1. Texas 
  1. Maryland 
  1. Iowa 
  1. Indiana 
  1. Michigan 
  1. Iowa State 
  1. Oklahoma 
  1. Arizona 
  1. Kentucky 
  1. Tennessee 
  1. Virginia Tech 
  1. North Carolina 
  1. Notre Dame 
  1. Ohio State 
  1. Princeton 
  1. BYU 
  1. Florida 
  1. Villanova 

Almost Famous: Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, Georgia Tech, Oregon, Georgia 

RISERS 

No. 10 Iowa–“Wow” is really the best word to describe the type of run that the Iowa Hawkeyes have been on. After being unranked two weeks ago, the Hawkeyes moved into the polls to No. 24 last week thanks to two wins over current No. 11 Indiana. This week, they swept the Big 10 tournament, coming home victorious, which included a third win over Indiana. They have won their past seven games, with four being ranked. Caitlin Clark has been phenomenal this year, but it was Monika Czinano who stole the show in the championship game, notching 30 points and 10 boards in the win. They’re now well positioned to host the first weekend. 

No. 16 Kentucky–Iowa had a great week, but Kentucky’s was arguably better thanks to their improbable run to the top of the SEC. The Wildcats started the season 2-8 in SEC play, but were victors of their final six games entering the SEC tournament. They took out unranked Mississippi State in the first round and then beat No. 5 LSU by 15 in the quarterfinal. Afterward, they escaped a close one with No. 15 Tennessee, leading to a championship match with No. 1 South Carolina. With five minutes left in the fourth, things were looking grim. The Wildcats were down 62-53, but layups by Treasure Hunt and Rhyne Howard brought them within five. Over the final minutes of regulation, Dre’una Edwards took over, scoring the final seven points, including a wild 3-pointer with just a few ticks left on the clock for the win. Kentucky is surging at the right time. 

FALLERS 

No. 15 Arizona–Arizona needs to take these extra 18 days of no games and really figure out how to get back to what they were doing in the beginning of the season when they won their first 12 games, including one over against current No. 7 Louisville. They had been ranked in the top three for a decent chunk of the year, but have since done a fair bit of losing, including three of their last four, all against unranked opponents. If they make the appropriate adjustments, then they should be fine, but there is reason for concern going into the tournament. 

Almost Famous Georgia–Georgia has also had a tough run lately. After cracking the top 10 midway through the year, they dropped out of the rankings this week following their bad loss to Alabama, who had a losing record in the SEC. The Bulldogs have lost five of their last eight, which is not a good omen this close to the tournament. Similar to Arizona, they have some considerable work to do in these next few weeks.  

UCONN 

No. 5 UConn–The Huskies have won their last nine games (with the result of the Villanova championship game currently unknown) and are looking like their best selves just at the right time. On any given night, the shots can come from anywhere. Maybe Azzi Fudd gets hot and explodes for seven 3-pointers or maybe Aaliyah Edwards and Dorka Juhasz have favorable matchups inside. Either way, UConn could have many players on off nights and still beat good teams by upwards of 30 points. The Huskies are looking as close to the UConn teams of old as they have all season, which will make them a popular pick come tournament time. 

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