Rare week without many Top 25 women’s matchups

It’s rare when a week after the new year doesn’t feature many Top 25 matchups. That’s usually reserved for exam week or Christmas week.

Add this seven-day stretch to that list as there are only two games between ranked teams. Both of those happen Thursday night when No. 12 North Carolina hosts No. 7 Notre Dame and eighth-ranked Maryland visits No. 24 Rutgers.

It’s the first time since 2001 that there have been two or fewer contests between ranked teams after Jan. 1 according to STATS. The last time was Feb. 5-11, 2001.

This could be a needed break for ranked teams. Last week saw 10 teams in the Top 25 lose, including five of the first 10. It’s the second time this season that five teams in the top 10 lost. That’s not to say that the Top 25 teams don’t have challenges as this season has already seen its fair share of upsets by unranked opponents.

Two that didn’t lose and appear on a collision course for a No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown are South Carolina and UConn.

The Gamecocks survived their first real test in the Southeastern Conference, beating No. 10 Kentucky 68-60 at home Sunday in front of 17,156 fans. UConn had a bit of an easier time beating SMU 83-28. The Huskies led 74-9, holding the Mustangs without a point for nearly the first 12:30 of the second half.

South Carolina travels to Missouri and Florida this week while UConn hosts Temple and South Florida.

Baylor, Louisville and Texas followed the Huskies, with the Cardinals and Longhorns tied for fourth. Tennessee, Notre Dame, Maryland, Oregon State and Kentucky rounded out the top 10.

The Beavers have their highest ranking ever at No. 9.

Some notes from this week’s poll:

CONSISTENCY: One road loss to Miami cost Notre Dame its 28-week streak in the top five. The Fighting Irish had been ranked among the first five teams for every week since Nov. 11, 2013. That was the second-longest active streak behind UConn, which has been among the top five every week since Jan. 29, 2007 – a span of 152 consecutive weeks.

The Irish still have been in the top 10 for every week since Jan. 7, 2011. That’s 78 consecutive weeks. UConn’s been in the first 10 for 184 weeks dating to March 14, 2005.

HOLD THAT TIGER: Princeton keeps moving up the rankings, climbing to No. 19 this week. The undefeated Tigers beat Hampton by 12 and rival Penn by 29. Princeton now is on exam break until Jan. 30.

UNBEATENS: South Carolina and Princeton are the lone remaining unbeatens in women’s basketball. On the other end of the spectrum, UC Santa Barbara and Illinois State are the two winless programs.

FALLING OUT: Western Kentucky fell out of the Top 25 a week after joining. It wasn’t the Lady Toppers’ fault as they won both their games handily. It isn’t the first time this season that a team promptly dropped out of the rankings without losing. Gonzaga fell out the week after it entered the poll despite winning its two games that week. It’s a rare feat, as this is only the fifth time it’s happened since 2000, according to STATS. The Lady Toppers and Bulldogs join Toledo in 2013, Arkansas in 2007 and Arkansas State in 2000.

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