Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ladyswish state rankings

1. Virginia (20-7, 8-4 ACC, 3rd) Last week: 1
RPI: 14
The Cavaliers may have lost that heartbreaker to Florida State Monday, but given the way they battled we actually feel a little better about them now than we did going in. Next: Friday at No. 6 Duke

2. James Madison (20-6, 10-5 CAA, 4th) Last week: 4
RPI: 43
Have the Dukes played their way back into consideration for an at-large NCAA tournament berth? Maybe, but clearly there's no margin for error and the focus needs to be solely on winning the CAA tournament. Dawn Evans has made 15 straight free throws and 29 of 31 since over her last four games. Next: Thursday vs. VCU

3. VCU (18-9, 11-4 CAA, 2nd-tie) Last week: 3
RPI: 108
When you consider that the Rams lost their top two scorers from a year ago, then saw four-year starter La'Tavia Rorie go down with a knee injury last month, that Beth Cunningham has this team within a game of the CAA lead at this stage of the season is pretty remarkable. Can't wait to see Sunday's ODU-VCU rematch; the Rams manhandled the Lady Monarchs when the teams met in Norfolk. Next: Thursday at JMU

4. Old Dominion (14-11, 12-3 CAA, 1st) Last week: 2
RPI: 57
Sure, that 17.9 percent first-half shooting against JMU was ghastly. But every team, UConn included, has night when the shots don't fall. That the Lady Monarchs also had 14 first-half turnovers suggests something else was at work, that perhaps facing their biggest conference rival in front of a season-high crowd had them too jacked up to perform up to snuff. Funny, too, for the Lady Monarchs shot 50 percent and had just four turnovers after intermission. Next: Thursday vs. William and Mary

5. Richmond (16-10, 5-6 Atlantic 10, 8th) Last week: 5
RPI: 82
The Spiders' recent struggles have eliminated any chance of a first-round bye and set them up to have to win four games in four days in one of the deepest conferences in the country. Furthermore, the way we read it the most likely scenario is for the Spiders to end the season as the league's No. 8 team, which would set them up for a second-round tournament game against mighty Xavier. Next: Friday at George Washington

6. Liberty (20-5, 10-2 Big South, 2nd) Last week: 6
RPI: 90
Lady Flames reached the 20-win plateau for the 12th time in 14 seasons and have now won at least 10 Big South games 11 straight years. Weird stat - Liberty is 8-1 when making zero or one 3-pointer in a game. Next: Saturday at UNC Asheville

7. Hampton (15-11, 10-4 MEAC, 2nd) Last week: 7
RPI: 160
The Lady Pirates' are only a half-game ahead of Morgan State for second place in the MEAC - the Lady Bears have played one less game - but if both teams win out, Hampton owns the tiebreaker courtesy of the 74-37 whipping they put on Morgan in the teams' lone regular-season meeting. Next: Saturday vs Delaware State

8. Virginia Tech (14-13, 3-9 ACC, 10th-tie) Last week: 8
RPI: 107
In two games of having to assume point-guard duties after an injury to Nikki Davis, Lindsay Biggs scored a combined three points. In the six games since, Biggs is averaging 16.8. Next: Thursday vs. Clemson

9. William and Mary (11-15, 4-11 CAA, 10th-tie) Last week: 9
RPI: 193
Apparently it takes a half season for Taysha Pye to get going. Last year she averaged 19.6 ppg over her last nine regular-season games. Now the sophomore is at 25.3 ppg over her last four. But who beside Pye can Debbie Taylor consistently count on offensively? Next: Thursday at Old Dominion

10. George Mason (8-18, 1-14 CAA, 12th) Last week: 10
RPI: 235
The Patriots havel lost 10 straight but have been extremely competitive in their last four, three of which have come on the road. Mason finished 2-16 in conference play a year ago. Next: Thursday vs. UNC Wilmington

11. Longwood (8-18) Last week: 12
RPI: 259
The Lancers will conclude regular-season play Friday at North Carolina Central, then face Central again in the first round of Longwood's year-ending Independent Tournament March 6-7 at Willett Hall. Seattle (6-22) and Florida Gulf Coast (22-5) round out the four-team field. Next: Friday at North Carolina Central

12. Radford (5-19, 4-9 Big South, 7th) Last week: 11
RPI: 268
Da'Naria Erwin-Spencer, who has scored in double figures in six straight games and 10 of her last 11, earned her second straight Big South Freshman of the Week award. But the Highlanders' losing streak is now at eight. Next: Saturday at Presbyterian

13. Norfolk State (4-19, 0-13 MEAC, 11th) Last week: 13
RPI: 343
Turns out NSU's 70-52 victory over Winston-Salem State Saturday was a bad omen for the Spartans, who fell to South Carolina State two days later and were denied their first MEAC victory. Norfolk State hasn't won back-to-back games since Jan. 28 and 30 of 2006. Next: Saturday at Morgan State

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