Nonconference winners and losers

Freshman Lashann Higgs and Texas are 13-0 and the fourth No. 1 seed in Charlie Creme's latest bracketology. AP Photo/Michael Thomas

The beauty of preseason projections is that they don't linger that long. Games get played, giving us something tangible to evaluate. Performance dictates fresh analysis.

That said, let's look back on some of those predictions, specifically teams that have either exceeded expectations and those that have underperformed as nonconference play has essentially completed.

Better than expected

Texas: The second-half slide of a year ago tempered expectations a bit in Austin, but the Longhorns have equaled last season's 13-0 start and look even better. They are one of the best teams in the country right now. Wins over Stanford and Mississippi State at home and Tennessee on the road catapulted Texas from a preseason No. 4 seed to the fourth No. 1 in this week's Bracketology. The injection of freshman Lashann Higgs has been a good fit with an otherwise veteran group. Health became a problem last year and remains something to watch over the next two months.

Georgia: Replacing a legend isn't supposed to go this smoothly. But the Lady Dogs don't look at all disrupted as they transition from 36-year coach Andy Landers to first-year coach Joni Taylor. In fact, Georgia is in the exact same spot today as it was at this point a season ago: 12-2 with two wins against NCAA tournament-worthy competition (this year it's BYU and Seton Hall; last year it was Ohio State and Michigan State) and an 0-1 SEC start. It certainly helps that Taylor inherited four senior starters. The Lady Dogs weren't even in the preseason bracket projection, but now sit on the No. 7 line.

Southern California: The Trojans were one of the First Four Out in the preseason. They are now a No. 7 seed thanks to a 12-0 run through their nonconference schedule. Coach Cynthia Cooper-Dyke has incorporated a bevy of new faces, including Temi Fagbenle, a Harvard graduate transfer who leads the team in scoring and is second in rebounding. All that said, two losses to open Pac-12 play already puts USC's future status in jeopardy.

Missouri: There's no marquee win on the Tigers' board, but who thought this team was capable of 13 consecutive victories to open the season? The start matches the program's best and lifted Missouri into the AP Top 25 for the first time since 2006. Freshman Sophie Cunningham had a 42-point game against Wake Forest on national television to gain the team some instant attention. Continued winning in the SEC will bring even more.

Seton Hall: The Pirates had a breakout season a year ago, but coach Anthony Bozzella had to replace two of his top-three scorers and much of the club's leadership. Tabatha Richardson-Smith is back and still scoring in bunches, but there is more balance this year and Seton Hall is off to the best start (13-1) in school history. Transfers Shakena Richardson (Florida State) and Aleesha Powell (Iona) have really helped the Pirates from what looked like WNIT-bound in the preseason to a No. 6 seed today.

Florida: Picked to finish 10th in the SEC, the Gators shot to a 12-1 start fueled by an early upset of Florida State. Offensive balance and effort have been the keys to Florida's surprising early success. the Gators, despite a loss in their SEC opener to Mississippi State, earned a No. 9 seed this week after not even being on the board at all in the preseason.

Worse than projected

Tennessee: The Lady Vols have lacked chemistry all season, something that has shown up most noticeably on the offensive end. They are averaging 66 points per game. The usually difficult nonconference schedule yielded victories against Syracuse and Oregon State, but also losses to Texas, Stanford and Virginia Tech. Projected as the fourth No. 1 seed in the preseason, Tennessee has dropped to a No. 3.

Florida State: Perhaps the overwhelming success of last year put expectations too high this season. At 10-4 with a roster that is largely the same, the Seminoles have nearly equaled last season's loss total just one game into ACC play. Rutgers is the only NCAA tournament-caliber opponent Florida State has beaten to this point, and a No. 2 seed projection has turned into a No. 5 reality today.

Louisville: The youthful Cardinals have shown recent signs of turning around what was a largely a rough ride in the nonconference season. Winning nine of its last 10, including victories over Michigan State and Florida State, have helped reverse a season that was in danger of going south quickly after a 1-4 start. Losing to Purdue or Dayton or Western Kentucky wouldn't have sounded an alarm, but losing to them all in a month was surprising even for a team with nearly all freshmen and sophomores.

LSU: The Lady Tigers weren't attached to many large expectations this season. A bubble NCAA tournament team was probably the projected ceiling. However, that bubble has already burst. At 6-8, including a loss to Alabama to open SEC play, LSU has almost no chance of making the postseason and will be battling to stay out of the bottom of the conference.

George Washington: The Colonials were a top-20 team to start the season. They are a top-30 team now. A 11-3 record is hardly a disaster, but George Washington figured to be better. Losing to Wright State and a depleted Florida Gulf Coast team remains puzzling and are the kind of losses that might have already cost GW the chance of hosting NCAA tournament games.

Dayton: The Flyers largely have injuries to blame for being included on this list. Losing senior guard Kelley Austria to a knee injury on Dec. 7 changed Dayton's season entirely. Just 1-4 since and now also dealing with the absence of another senior guard, Amber Deane, the Flyers started as a projected No. 8 seed but are now a long shot to reach the NCAA tournament, something they haven't missed since 2009.