Behind the Ballot: South Carolina emerges victorious with wire-to-wire season 

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The UConn women’s basketball team put on a dominate display in the first round NCAA March Madness matchup against the Mercer Bears, capturing a 83-38 victory on March 19, 2022 at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, CT. This win advanced the Huskies to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Photo by Sofia Sawchuk / The Daily Campus.

Welcome back to my weekly column, “Behind the Ballot,” where I will share my Top 25 women’s basketball rankings that I submitted to be included in the Student Media Poll. The SMP is a weekly basketball poll, voted on by student journalists from a variety of different college newspapers around the country, and I am fortunate enough to serve as a women’s basketball voter. I look at previous rankings and games from the past week to determine my weekly ballot. This is the last edition of the year with the season coming to a close. Let’s take a look at my rankings here, with my methodology heavily based on tournament success.  

  1. South Carolina 
  1. UConn 
  1. Stanford 
  1. Louisville 
  1. NC State 
  1. Texas 
  1. Michigan 
  1. Creighton 
  1. Indiana 
  1. Maryland 
  1. Iowa State 
  1. Baylor 
  1. Tennessee 
  1. North Carolina 
  1. Notre Dame 
  1. Ohio State 
  1. LSU 
  1. South Dakota 
  1. Princeton 
  1. Villanova 
  1. Iowa 
  1. Oklahoma 
  1. Arizona 
  1. UCF 
  1. FGCU 

NOTABLE PERFORMERS 

No. 1 South Carolina – As women’s basketball gets deeper and more parity develops, it becomes increasingly difficult to go wire to wire as No. 1. However, the Gamecocks were able to do so, demonstrating their dominance when the games counted, particularly in the championship game against UConn. A 26-point performance and defensive masterpiece by Destanni Henderson helped squash the Huskies’ hopes and secure the title. Having USC as the No. 1 team was a complete no-brainer, with its only two losses coming in games that didn’t really matter that much. Kudos to the Gamecocks and their dominant season. 

No. 8 Creighton – If you hadn’t watched Creighton this year, its Elite Eight run probably surprised you, but the team’s poise and performance during the tournament was no surprise to anyone in the Big East. The win over Colorado wasn’t too shocking, but when the Bluejays played champion dark horse Iowa in the second round, nobody expected them to win. They grew a lead and although they eventually blew it, they kept their composure and won the game, thanks to a Lauren Jensen dagger. Then they Creighton beat Iowa state in convincing fashion before losing big to eventual champions USC. This is a season that the Bluejays should be more than proud of.  

No. 12 Baylor — A team that should be embarrassed about the way its season ended is Baylor, after being completely punked in the round of 32 on its home court. After whacking No. 15 seed Hawaii by 40, the Bears laid a complete egg at home, losing to No. 10 seed South Dakota by 14. Baylor, which had been a consistent top 10 team for the entire season lost the first quarter 16-4 and was never quite able to recover. Given how positive the Bears’ first season in the post-Mulkey era was, this was a really disappointing way to end it.  

No. 19 Princeton — Another team that showed that it was for real? The Princeton Tigers, who after being underrated all season, showed the world that they mean business. After breezing through the entire Ivy League, the Tigers beat SEC champs and No. 6 seed Kentucky in a tight game that they ran away with at the end. In the next game, Princeton essentially blew a chance to send the contest with Indiana to overtime, with Kaitlyn Chen turning the ball over while down two. The Tigers proved that they belong securely in the top 25, even though they failed to win multiple games. 

UCONN 

No. 2 UConn — The Huskies are a funny case in this tournament, as their run felt like both a disappointment and a success. Looking at the way UConn’s year went, with Bueckers, Fudd, Williams, Juhasz, Nelson-Ododa and Ducharme all missing time, the fact that this team made it as far as the title is incredible. Even though the only missing player by the end of the season was Juhasz (and Griffin, depending on how you look), it was a trying attempt. The disappointment comes in the fact that it’s championship or bust at UConn. And this was a bust. There’s no reason why we shouldn’t see the Huskies right back here next year though with their great recruiting class and developed sophomores and juniors.  

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