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  • Writer's pictureSadahri Lindsey

Looking at Power Five Conference Top Teams and Dark Horses

The 2023 NCAA women's basketball season is upon us. From stunning upsets to potential dark horses in post-season contention, here are some teams that you need to be on the lookout for.

Teams to Watch (By Conference)

ACC: #17 Notre Dame
Hannah Hidalgo goes up for a layup. Photo courtesy of @ndwbb /Twitter

Things are looking up in South Bend this season. Last season, point guard Olivia Miles went down with an ACL tear and has not suited up for the Irish since. However, freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo has been key to their 4-1 record. She has averaged 25.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 5.5 assists for Notre Dame. Another impactful player for Notre Dame so far has been Sonia Citron, averaging 20 points a game.

Big 10: #5 Iowa
Caitlin Clark celebrating a made three against Kansas State in the championship of the Gulf Coast Showcase on Sunday, November 26. Photo by Stephen Mally with Hawkeye Athletics

Even though Iowa was upset on November 16 by an unranked Kansas State team, guard Caitlin Clark has been absolutely dominant. She averages a whopping 31 points a game, which is first in the nation. She also puts up 7.4 rebounds and eight assists per game. Forward Hannah Stuelke averages 12.6 points and 6.4 rebounds, with a field goal percentage of 75%, which is third in the nation.

Big 12: Texas
Rori Harmon makes a leaping pass in game against Oral Roberts. Photo by Texas Athletics.

The Big 12 conference is very competitive this season, with teams such as Baylor, Texas, TCU, and Kansas State on the rise. However, Texas has been a standout so far this season. Freshman forward Madison Booker has averaged 10 points and 5 rebounds for the Longhorns. Junior guard Rori Harmon has also been great so far this season, putting up 12.5 points and 8 assists for Texas.

PAC-12: #2 UCLA
Lauren Betts for UCLA Basketball. Photo by Caren Nicdao and UCLA Athletics

With players on their roster such as Charisma Osborne and Lauren Betts, UCLA is looking to be one of the most dominant teams in the PAC-12. Osborne averages 17.3 points and 7.8 rebounds for the Bruins. Sophomore center Lauren Betts has been averaging a double-double for UCLA so far, putting up 19.5 points and 10.8 rebounds a game.

SEC: #1 South Carolina
Kamilla Cardoso for South Carolina basketball. Photo from South Carolina Athletics

South Carolina is a guard-focused team this season. With strong guards such as Raven Johnson, Te-Hina Paopao, and freshman MiLaysia Fulwiley, South Carolina is sure to make the SEC competitive in conference play. 6'7" center Kamilla Cardoso is also making an impact for the Gamecocks, averaging 17.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game.

Dark Horse Teams (By Conference)

ACC: #5 NC State
Saniya Rivers goes up for a layup for NC State. Photo by NC State Athletics.

NC State has had a fantastic start to their season. They defeated top teams such as UConn and Colorado. Guard Saniya Rivers has been outstanding for NC State, putting up 13 points and six rebounds. She put up 33 points when the Wolfpack defeated UConn. Mimi Collins has been good for NC State this season as well, scoring 10 points and six rebounds per game.

Big 10: #15 Ohio State
Cotie McMahon shoots for Ohio State. Photo courtesy of Ohio State Athletics

Ohio State had a rocky start to their season, losing their first game of the season to USC. However, they have seemed to rebound from that, having not lost a game since. Star forward Cotie McMahon has been one of the Buckeye's main sources of scoring, along with guard Jacy Sheldon. McMahon has averaged 15.3 points and 4.3 rebounds so far this season, while Sheldon has put scored 17.8 points and 2.8 assists. Ohio State has some interesting matchups coming up before conference play starts, such as #20 Tennessee on December 3, and #2 UCLA on December 18.

Big 12: #14 Baylor
Dre'Una Edwards for Baylor Basketball. Photo courtesy of @BaylorWBB /Twitter

Many fans thought that this would be another down year for Baylor, especially since one of their best players, Jaden Owens, entered the transfer portal during the offseason. However, many players have stepped up to earn a #14 ranking in the AP poll. Senior forward Dre'Una Edwards, who transferred from Kentucky and had to sit out last season due to NCAA transfer rules, has been averaging 14.4 points and 6.2 rebounds a game. Sarah Andrews has been putting up 13.6 points, two rebounds, and 3.8 assists for the Bears. Andrews also put up 18 points when Baylor defeated Utah in their second game of the season.

PAC-12: #6 USC
Juju Watkins goes up for a layup for USC Basketball. Photo courtesy of USC Athletics.

USC has been one of the most entertaining teams to watch this season. Freshman guard Juju Watkins has been amazing for the Trojans, averaging 26.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. She scores the third most points per game in the nation. Rayah Marshall has also been a great center for USC. She has been putting up 14.6 points and 10.6 rebounds per game. In USC's win against Ohio State, she put up 18 points and 17 rebounds.

SEC: #19 Ole Miss
Snudda Collins for Ole Miss basketball. Photo courtesy of @OleMissWBB /Twitter

Ole Miss has been one of the most slept-on teams in the conference. This past offseason, they got busy in the transfer portal and acquired many players, such as former UNC player Kennedy Todd-Williams. However, their point guard KK Deans is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Fortunately, the Rebels looked good against Little Rock on November 25, with guard Marquesha Davis picking up the slack for Deans, putting up 11 points with six rebounds. Snudda Collins also scored 11 points off the bench, while shooting 50 percent from the three-point line.

With many teams trying to compete for a chance to be in the March Madness tournament and even the national championship game, this season is sure to be one for the books.


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