The top girls' high school basketball teams from around the nation are on display again this year at the Nike Tournament of Champions in Chandler (just outside Phoenix), Arizona. More than 2,000 student athletes will participate over the two week course of this illustrious tournament, which has become known as the unofficial national championship for high school women's basketball, but most eyes, including those of the college coaches who flock to the event, will be locked on the premiere Joe Smith Division in session one this week.
Set in Hamilton High School gymnasium, the Joe Smith Division features six of the top 10-nationally ranked girls' high school teams in the country battling it out for top honors. Mater Dei (Santa Ana, CA) comes into the tournament ranked No. 1, and is the team to beat, but took a heavy blow when Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, one of the top recruits in the country this year, sprained her ankle after coming down hard on an awkwardly positioned joint. Mosqueda-Lewis had to sit out the rest of yesterday's quarterfinals games on crutches, but promises to return for today's semifinals; her availability, however, is still uncertain.
With or without Mosqueda-Lewis, it would be wrong to rule out the other top contenders. No. 2/3 Brea advanced yesterday, as did No. 3/2 Bolingbrook and No. 5/8 Long Beach Poly. That means there will be plenty of competitive play, not just in the Joe Smith Division, but in all six divisions scattered throughout several nearby gyms, over the final two days of Session I. Let's take a look at some of the top action from Monday's quarterfinals.
Many of our Top 25 teams enjoyed relaxed exam-week schedules last week, but there was still some significant movement among those who saw action. In the week's biggest upset, last week's No. 10 team, Tennessee, quickly bounced back from an 11-point loss to then-No. 3 Baylor, heading home to hand Stanford (No. 2 last week) a 10-point loss in overtime. It was the second loss of the week for the previously unbeaten Cardinal, who had just dropped a road game at No. 19 DePaul. With two losses to lesser ranked teams, Stanford plummets to No. 10, the Lady Vols step up to No. 9 and the Blue Demons rise to No. 14 in our rankings.
In the other big news of the week, Connecticut equaled the 88-consecutive win record set by John Wooden's men's basketball team in the early 70s with an 82-50 beatdown of the Ohio State Buckeyes. OSU had entered the game ranked No. 11, not only by Full Court but by the other two polls as well, after falling out of the Top Five a week ago with a loss to then-unranked Syracuse. So the loss itself was not entirely unexpected, but a 32-point shellacking in front of a national TV audience most definitely was, and the Buckeyes drop to No. 16 as a consequence.
Who would have thunk it?!? In the week's biggest upset, No. 15 Florida Street fell to the lowly Elis, who came into the game not merely unranked but with a season record of 1-7. Nine-and-two isn't a bad record at this point in the season, but it's tough to justify a spot in the Top 25 after that kind of loss, so the Seminoles fall from the ranks of the elite, at least for the time being.
Their place is taken by unbeaten Arkansas, one of the most pleasant surprises of the early season, who enter our rankings at No. 25 after handing Oklahoma (No. 12 at the time) a 10-point loss last week. The Sooners slip to No. 17 and the remainder of our ranked teams move up to fill in the gaps.
Let's take a closer look at last week's Top 25 action.