As the NCAA regular season comes to an end, we are seeing some very significant games unfolding. And with the postseason just around the corner, every spot in the rankings is becoming more and more crucial. This week, after smothering Rutgers and clobbering Wisconsin, Northwestern (24-3, 14-2 Big Ten) moved up four spots to No. 14 in this week’s AP Poll.
It was a tumultuous week of action across the country, which helped allow the ‘Cats to move on up. On Friday, #4 Stanford beat #15 Oregon State by 3, dropping the Beavers to #17 while the Cardinal stayed put. After a relatively quiet Saturday, though, the tournament landscape shifted dramatically on Sunday.
Villanova downed DePaul 76-58, dropping the Blue Demons four spots from #12 to #16. #1 South Carolina pulled out a 9 point victory against #14 Kentucky, in a game that wasn’t as close as the score would suggest. The Gamecocks solidified that they are the best team in the country while knocking the Wildcats to #15.
Megan Abrams tipped in the game winner as Alabama upset #9 Mississippi State 66-64, which caused the Bulldogs to drop down to #10. Colorado held #11 Arizona to just 38 points, and ended the game on a 15-0 run to knock ‘Zona down to #13. Washington, who came into the day at 12-14, put up 74 points to beat #8 UCLA, and the Bears fell to #9. #22 Arkansas failed to lead the entire game, and was downed by Florida, causing the Razorbacks to fall out of the top 25. Finally, Georgia Tech played an outstanding 3rd quarter to beat #17 Florida State, and the Seminoles fell to #19.
With these teams falling, NC State rose to #8, Gonzaga rose to #11 and TCU is now #25, among numerous other moves. Iowa moved from #19 to #18, Indiana rose to #22, and Maryland maintained their position of #7.
Amidst all of this, the Wildcats are seeing their national standing continue to rise, and are beginning to dream of a #3 or even, possibly, a #2 seed in the NCAA Tournament thanks to all the recent high-profile losses. Meanwhile, after her dominant week of action (55 points, 10 assists, 12 rebounds over the two games) Lindsey Pulliam was named both the ESPN National Player of the Week and the Big Ten Player of the Week.
There’s still a lot of season to go, but it looks like it’s going to be a fun one down to the wire. For now, the newly-14th-ranked ‘Cats are gearing up for their final big test of the regular season: Tuesday night’s trip to Ohio State.