Interesting: 1) Note the qulaifier before the article starts, re: "...bringing the Atlantic 10, Conference USA and Mountain West into the mid-major top-10 fold"; and 2) note the numbers (1= TCU) and (10= UNM) below.
TCU tops mid-major top-10 rankings
Tuesday, December 9, 2008 | Print Entry
Posted by Graham Hays
And due to popular demand, the preseason edict on qualifiers has been reversed, bringing the Atlantic 10, Conference USA and Mountain West into the mid-major top-10 fold.
1. TCU (7-2): When you beat Maryland at home and Cal on the road, you can lose all the games you want to Fresno State and Boston College (or more accurately, you can lose to Fresno State and Boston College). Sverrisdottir and LaFleur sounds like a partnership you'd find at Tottenham, not deep in the hear of Texas, but Icelandic sophomore Helena Sverrisdottir and Houston's own TK LaFleur have been terrific. Texas transfer Rachel Rentschler adds another weapon to the arsenal and name worthy of Arsenal.
2. Gonzaga (8-2): A loss on Sunday at UC Santa Barbara was a dose of reality, but the Bulldogs still look strong. South Dakota State comes to town Friday in the best game you won't hear anything about. Point guard Courtney Vandersloot averages 6.8 assists and shoots 54 percent behind the arc -- and yet she wasn't even available (sprained ankle) when Gonzaga knocked off Virginia in Milwaukee two weeks ago.
3. South Dakota State (8-1): Perhaps wins against Oregon, Illinois and Missouri don't look quite as impressive as those teams struggle, but South Dakota State beat Wisconsin by 20 in the Badgers' only loss this season. The Jackrabbits also hung with Maryland despite playing without point guard Ashlea Muckenhirn, who has since returned.
4. Marist (7-1): Not much went right against Oklahoma in Norman, but that date was never going to turn out well for a team that needs time to sort itself out in the post. The important part of the trip to the Sooner State came two days after the 26-point loss against Oklahoma, when the Red Foxes regrouped and routed Tulsa by 20 on the road.
5. Arkansas Little Rock (6-1): A 20-point win against a Southern Miss team that should be in the Conference USA race will get you noticed. A 14-point win against Oklahoma State three days later will do more than that. Point guard Asriel Rolfe was the nation's freshman leader in assist-to-turnover ratio last season, and she's once again running a tight ship for a team that shoots the ball well and takes it away from opponents.
6. Wisconsin-Green Bay (7-0): Getting off to the best start in school history isn't inconsequential for a program with as strong a history as UW-Green Bay. The top four scorers for the Phoenix average between 10.0 and 11.6 points per game, and the team is shooting 39 percent behind the arc. Big tests loom against Wisconsin and Illinois State at home and Marquette and DePaul on the road, all between now and the end of the month.
7. Old Dominion (4-2): Life on the road has been decidedly unkind to the Lady Monarchs, who dropped a 34-point decision at Texas and a 26-point loss at Michigan State. So what are they still doing here? That 78-70 win against Virginia is the life preserver. And a team that shot around 44 percent overall and 35 percent from behind the arc last season has to eventually start hitting shots with some consistency, right?
8. Xavier (7-3): A loss against Cincinnati was the first disappointing result for a team that has battled extremely well after the loss of Amber Harris (and at 6-2, Cincinnati isn't an automatic win). Ta'Shia Phillips has been very good, notably with a spectacular 25 rebounds against North Carolina, but April Phillips also deserves credit for stepping up on the boards and on the defensive end. If Harris returns in the spring, look out.
9. Richmond (8-0): Who would have guess that Joanne Boyle's old team would remain unbeaten longer than the Cal coach's team in Berkeley? Granted, the Spiders haven't played a schedule that would scare anyone, but eight wins in eight tries -- including five away from home -- is worthy of recognition. A win against VCU was good, but real tests come in January, with games against Wake Forest, Maryland and George Washington.
10. New Mexico (7-1): This seemed like it might be a rebuilding year after Dionne Marsh's illustrious 12-year run in Albuquerque came to an end (or maybe it just felt like she was there forever). But even without Marsh, New Mexico is off and running -- literally, averaging 10 more points per game than a season ago. A soft schedule loaded with home games helps (minus that 38-point loss at Stanford). Interestingly, all 11 players who have seen time have hit at least one 3-pointer.