Tuesday, December 23, 2014

James Madison, Virginia, Liberty, Richmond atop LadySwish rankings

A look at the state's best teams as we approach the holiday break.

1. James Madison (9-1)

Never mind the AP voters, who still have Stanford sitting at No. 15 even though the Cardinal was beaten soundly by an "unranked" Chattanooga team. We know that JMU is nothing short of a Top 25 team, and the Dukes remain atop the LadySwish rankings.

2. Virginia (9-2)

We're not sold on the Cavs thriving in the ACC just yet, but the three freshmen led by Mikayla Venson, continue to impress as does veteran Faith Randolph. UVa., should close out the nonconference with an 11-2 mark given upcoming games in their own holiday tournament featuring Davidson and Drexel. Then the real test begins.

3. Liberty (6-5)

Three straight losses have taken the pretty out of the Lady Flames' record. One of the losses was to unbeaten and top-ranked South Carolina, a team we're convinced is up to the UConn challenge given our up-close look at them against Hampton last week. Wish Liberty had eeked out another for the win column over NC State. Big South play awaits, and we think Liberty will be fine, thank you.

4. Richmond (6-4)

Three straight wins for the Spiders means good tidings as Richmond heads into the holiday break. We look forward to seeing them up close on Dec. 28 at William and Mary.

5. Hampton (3-7)

Lady Pirates, we don't know what to do with you. We follow the philosophy that this is a weekly (OK, most times weekly) poll, and Hampton very well might be among the top three teams in the state. Playing the toughest schedule in the nation doesn't inflate your record, but what it does do is suddenly make the MEAC look manageable, inviting and winnable for the sixth year in a row.

6. Old Dominion (7-3)

Unlike Hampton, the record looks nice, but what does it mean? Like Hampton, we're going to find out with CUSA around the corner, but first a Dec. 29 date with a Cal team that just fell out of the AP rankings.

7. George Mason (8-4)

Three wins in four days leaves us feeling good about the new year for the Patriots, who wrap up the nonconference slate with Towson on Dec. 30.

8. Virginia Tech (8-4)

The Hokies have strung together four wins against Longwood, North Carolina Central, Western Carolina and Radford, and freshman Rachel Camp is a proven offensive threat, but like Virginia, like ODU, the real test is conference. A Dec. 30 date with Hofstra, which has  a win streak of its own of four, tunes these Hokies up for a loaded ACC.

9. William and Mary (6-4)

Lump of coal is all we have to say about that late trey from Maine that ruined the Tribe's chances for seven wins before the break. Richmond beware: These Tribe aren't the Tribe of Christmas past.

10. VCU (8-4)

Three nice wins followed the Rams lethargic performance at ODU, and a pair of MEAC foes await before daunting Atlantic 10 play.

11. Radford (3-8)

Disappointing losses to West Virginia State and Virginia Tech leave the Highlanders looking for consistency with Big South play awaiting.

12. Norfolk State (2-7)

The two-point loss to Marshall still stings, but NSU has to be feeling good about Rae Corbo, MEAC Player of the Week for the second straight time this week.

13. Longwood (0-11)

The new year can't get here fast enough for the winless Lancers.

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