A shakeup at the top. First time since we started doing these rankings that there’s a new No. 1.
1. UCLA (9-0). The Bruins haven’t had nearly as difficult a schedule as Stanford in the big picture and certainly can’t match it going forward. But UCLA has a big road win over Notre Dame, is playing a suffocating pressure defense (forcing 31 turnovers against Hawaii late Sunday night, for example) and has yet to be tripped up. UCLA is off to its best start since going 12-0 to open the 1980-81 season.
2. Stanford (6-2). The Cardinal, who dropped to No. 8 in this week’s AP poll, have lost two in a row for the first time since 2008 and they looked shaken in different ways in both games. The 20-point loss to DePaul was a bad look without Kayla Pedersen in the lineup. Stanford was tentative. Against Tennessee on Sunday night, Stanford was tough and aggressive at points and then made some huge mistakes down the stretch that cost the Cardinal the game. Now Tara VanDerveer goes for No. 800 on Wednesday night against Jennifer Azzi’s USF team.
3. USC (7-3). Another good win over San Diego State pushed the Women of Troy’s home record to 5-0 on Sunday night. There’s just one game left before the Pac-10 schedule begins, a Dec. 29 road game against Fresno State.
4. Cal (7-2). The Bears will take on 10-1 Texas Tech in the Las Vegas Tournament finale on Monday. Cal is getting by with eight active players currently. Joanne Boyle has never had great depth since she’s been in Berkeley. Maybe that’s why the Bears deal so well with what they have. Force of habit.
5. Arizona State (7-2). The Sun Devils, who have won four in a row, are going to get a big challenge from DePaul on Tuesday night. They are winning with defense, which we expect. But they are also winning with strong perimeter shooting, having hit a season-high six 3-pointers in two straight games.
6. Gonzaga (8-3). The Zags got their sixth straight win and another double-double from Courtney Vandersloot on Friday night in a victory over Idaho. Next up is a Tuesday night matchup with BYU and a Thursday matchup against Fullerton before next week’s big matchup with Notre Dame in Seattle.
7. Arizona (7-2). The WIldcats, who rank second in the Pac-10 in scoring offense, brought Ify Ibekwe back into the lineup against New Mexico State after she missed three weeks with a concussion and she pulled down 14 rebounds. But this team is on a roll even without her on the floor.