NCAA Teams
Graham Hays, espnW.com 698d

Dayton is the new No. 1 in mid-major rankings

Women's College Basketball, Dayton Flyers, Drake Bulldogs, Princeton Tigers, Chattanooga Lady Mocs, Green Bay Phoenix

Florida Gulf Coast is gone but certainly not forgotten. Without injured star Whitney Knight for the time being, the Eagles lost to Florida Atlantic and Ohio and thus slide from the No. 1 spot in the preseason rankings all the way out of the top 10. Expect it to be a temporary absence.

Meanwhile, the teams that comprise the list below have already amassed double-digit wins against opponents from major conferences. Let's get to the rankings.

1. Dayton (3-0 overall)

Since last rankings: Home wins against Yale (81-75), Vanderbilt (81-56), Wisconsin (87-64)

In the spotlight: Size, size and more size. While not to the extent suggested by a photo that makes it appear they invaded a gym used by the Keebler Elves, the Flyers are big. That size has them at No. 1, rather than struggling to adapt to life without Andrea Hoover and Ally Malott. A backcourt of Kelley Austria, Jenna Burdette and Amber Deane was always going to be the foundation. But 6-foot-2 freshman Maddy Dennis looks ready, 6-5 junior Saicha Grant-Allen has been double-double productive with expanded minutes alongside 6-4 senior Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova, and 6-3 junior Andrijana Cvitkovic produced when Grant-Allen was in foul trouble against Wisconsin.

What's next: A holiday tournament begins against Maine but offers two more games likely against some combination of Stanford, Louisville, LSU and Purdue.


2. Drake (4-0)

Since last rankings: Home wins against Iowa State (74-70), North Dakota (73-63) and Creighton (81-72); road win at Wisconsin (89-70)

In the spotlight: Depth drives hot start. Big 12, Big Ten and Big East? If you're this MVC riser, big deal. Maddy Dean provided the lead, Caitlin Ingle hit the 3-pointer to extend it, and Lizzy Wendell got the rebound and free throws to secure the win against Creighton on Tuesday. No shock there, given that those three lead the team in various statistical categories. But faith in depth got Drake to those moments with gas left in the tank. With nine players averaging double-digit minutes this season, and another close, Drake used almost two distinct units throughout the game. The rotation left the Bulldogs with a de facto second unit on the court facing a five-point deficit with about five minutes to play. Rather than scuttle the shifts, the home team stuck with the reserves, who erased the deficit.

What's next: Green Bay visits on Dec. 6, which along with a later game against Iowa is one of two appealing games on an otherwise light schedule between Thanksgiving and New Year's.


3. Green Bay (2-0 overall)

Since last rankings: Home wins against Marquette (75-55) and Vanderbilt (58-56)

In the spotlight: Jessica Lindstrom. In a blow that was both tactically damaging and downright sad, Ashley Luke was lost for the season just minutes into an exhibition game (Luke began her career at Green Bay, achieved tremendous success at Western Illinois and then returned this season as a graduate student). That put the scoring focus back on the quartet of Tesha Buck, Allie LeClaire, Kaili Lukan and Mehryn Kraker. That's still the case, but it further expands this team's ceiling if Lindstrom, who scored 11 points in 16 minutes against Vanderbilt and totaled nine points and 10 rebounds against Marquette, is poised for a breakout sophomore season as an inside-outside asset.

What's next: Green Bay plays Virginia, Tulane and Rutgers on successive days in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Phoenix also play at Drake before the next mid-major rankings.


4. South Dakota State (2-1)

Since last rankings: Home wins against Marist (77-68) and Arkansas (76-69); home loss against Notre Dame (75-64)

In the spotlight: Macy Miller. As part of a celebration of 50 years of women's athletics at the school, a video about former Jackrabbits standout Jennifer Warkenthien played during a break in the game against Notre Dame. A legitimate All-American and the star of the teams that successfully put the program on the Division I map, she is the player that South Dakota State, for all its continued success, has not had in recent seasons. A different kind of player at a different position, Miller nonetheless is a potential successor. She might not average 24.3 points per game for the season, as Miller did in the first three games, but she is a star in the making.

What's next: Sandwiched between games against Pitt and Old Dominion, Friday's game against Maryland in the U.S. Virgin Islands is the same sort of test as Notre Dame.


5. George Washington (3-1)

Since last rankings: Home wins against Grambling State (85-58) and American (78-48); road win at Fresno State (61-53); road loss at Stanford (84-63)

In the spotlight: What is a good loss? It's difficult to know quite what to do with the loss at Stanford. Jonquel Jones finished with 27 points and 17 rebounds, and those weren't garbage time stats. She scored 15 of those points in the first quarter, matching Stanford's output, and showed off a 3-point touch that will keep future foes awake at night. The Colonials also finished with an edge on the boards, a notable feat for a team that ranked among the national leaders a season ago but will always face suspicion that it is only a good rebounding team in mid-major settings. Yet for all of that, it was never much of a game after a Cardinal run in the second quarter.

What's next: Iowa is the highlight opponent of a holiday tournament in Texas, but a game against Wright State the next day puts Jones on the same court as Kim Demmings.


6. Princeton (3-1)

Since last rankings: Home wins against American (72-34) and Duquesne (94-66); road loss at Seton Hall (71-64)

In the spotlight: Streak stopped. The loss at Seton Hall snapped a streak of 32 consecutive regular-season wins. It is always easier to appreciate the degree of difficulty of something like Princeton's perfect season after the fact. Consider that this season the Tigers allowed 66 points in the win against Duquesne and 71 points in the loss at Seton Hall. They didn't give up as many as 66 points a season ago until Feb. 28, and didn't give up as many as 70 until the first round of the NCAA tournament.

What's next: After a holiday trip to play UC Irvine and either Loyola Marymout or Seattle U., the big game is Dec. 6 at home on national television against Michigan (ESPN2, 4 p.m. ET).


7. Gonzaga (4-2)

Since last rankings: Home wins against Air Force (88-35), Eastern Washington (78-56), West Virginia (62-57) and Grand Canyon (70-44); home losses against Stanford (65-48) and USC (60-56)

In the spotlight: Laura Stockton. Yes, the last name is its own story, but make her a generic freshman guard and there would still be reason to wonder if a recently concluded tournament gave us a glimpse of a player who can make a difference. Time will tell how significant a win against West Virginia is, but it wouldn't have happened Sunday without Stockton's 12 second-half points to stave off a Mountaineers rally. And her defense on successive possessions late against USC on Tuesday, producing two steals and forcing a travel, nearly allowed Gonzaga to complete its own rally. Along with redshirt freshman Jill Barta, the immediate contributions help considerably.

What's next: The Bulldogs finally leave home for a neutral-site game against North Carolina in Connecticut on Nov. 29. Their first true road game is Dec. 8 at Washington State.


8. Chattanooga (3-2)

Since last rankings: Home wins against McNeese State (68-53), Butler (60-49) and Southern Miss (53-48 OT); road losses at Indiana (54-43) and Tennessee (59-57)

In the spotlight: Jasmine Joyner expands her game. It isn't a one-to-one cause-and-effect ratio, but Chattanooga trailed Tennessee 38-19 after a first half in which Joyner played eight minutes and was scoreless. It outscored the Lady Vols 38-20 during a second half in which Joyner played 20 minutes and scored eight points. A prolific shot blocker at the defensive end, she attempted just seven 3-pointers a season ago. She is already 6-of-14 on 3-pointers this season. Without injured Chelsey Shupert, her newfound range sparked a rally.

What's next: There is the small matter of a visit from No. 1 Connecticut on Nov. 30, but first Chattanooga faces Arkansas State (no easy task two days after Tennessee) and UT-Martin.


9. Saint Mary's (4-0)

Since last rankings: Home win against San Jose State (91-81); road wins at Cal State Northridge (93-59), Wyoming (70-64) and Northern Colorado (65-52)

In the spotlight: New arrivals. The best news came with the return of a familiar face, senior All-WCC guard Lauren Nicholson absent the first two games but now back in action. But the smooth sailing without her had a lot to do with two new faces. Freshman Sydney Raggio and redshirt junior Devon Brookshire, a Northwestern transfer, give the Gaels some size on the front line and combined to average 31.8 points and 15.5 rebounds in the first four games (with the added bonus of 8-of-12 shooting from the 3-point line).

What's next: Fresno State and Missouri visit Thanksgiving weekend and a game at Cal follows the next week (with the possibility of an additional game against Villanova).


10. Drexel (2-1)

Since last rankings: Home wins against Dartmouth (69-53) and St. Bonaventure (58-46); road loss at South Florida (73-58)

In the spotlight: Sarah Curran. San Diego and New Mexico State are among those nipping at Drexel's heels (which might not be a wise choice around mythical fire-breathing lizards), but the CAA team essentially held serve with two wins and a competitive road loss against a ranked team that wasn't decided until the fourth quarter. It helps that Curran already has two 20-point performances. The Dragons got just six such performances all of last season, three of them from Curran.

What's next: Games against Villanova and universal mid-major opponent Vanderbilt over the course of the next week will test Drexel.

Previous rankings: Nov. 3 (preseason)

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