Fantasy Basketball

NCAAW Big East/mid-major: Columbia, DePaul begin receiving votes

Here’s a look at how the notable teams outside the Power 5 have been doing:

RV (2 points) Columbia Lions (9-2, 0-0 Ivy)

Columbia has quality wins over teams in Miami and Seton Hall who were both receiving votes last week. Its only bad loss came against Vanderbilt; its other loss was an understandable one to now-No. 14 Iowa State. So why did Columbia start receiving votes this week? Its 83-74 win over UMass on Saturday is likely why. UMass was an NCAA Tournament team a year ago and was picked to win the A-10 this year, receiving all 15 first-place votes. The Minutewomen don’t have any standout wins themselves, but their record is solid at 8-3.

The Lions’ other win this last week was an 84-68 takedown of Stony Brook on Wednesday. Their leading scorer, Abbey Hsu, had 34 points, six rebounds, four assists and two steals against UMass. Leading rebounder Kaitlyn Davis averaged 17 points, seven boards, two steals and two blocks over the two games.

RV (2 points) DePaul Blue Demons (8-3, 1-0 Big East)

DePaul didn’t pick up a quality win last week, but perhaps voters are so impressed by Aneesah Morrow that they know a good season for the Blue Demons is looming. Hopefully Morrow will return soon from the right leg injury she suffered in DePaul’s Monday win over Howard.

Morrow had 25 points and 14 rebounds last Wednesday in a 78-52 win over Loyola Chicago and 45 points, 13 rebounds and five steals on Saturday in a win over Northwestern. The 45 points marked a program record and pushed Morrow past 1,000 career points. She is the 13th-fastest NCAAW Division I player to reach 1,000 (43 games).

No. 9 UConn Huskies (7-2, 1-0 Big East)

UConn is still clinging to its streak of not losing back-to-back games — it’s been 29 years. That streak will be put to the test this upcoming Sunday against a Florida State team that is receiving three voting points and features a superstar freshman in Ta’Niya Latson. Hopefully Nika Mühl and/or Dorka Juhász will be back for that game and even without them, Paige Bueckers, Azzi Fudd and Ice Brady, UConn is a really good team and will probably have the edge over the Seminoles. But it will be interesting to see such a successful young player like Latson go up against mighty UConn; imagine the storyline of her dropping 30 to snap the Huskies’ 29-year streak. The game will be at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.

As I just mentioned, UConn is still a very good team when it’s Aaliyah Edwards, Lou Lopez Sénéchal and Aubrey Griffin leading the way and all those other stars are missing. I gave them a good shot at beating now-No. 15 Maryland this past Sunday, but it became clear after the Terps came back from their initial deficit that the Terps had the edge and it was their game to lose. Maryland went on to win 85-78.

The Huskies turned the ball over 27 times against Princeton last Thursday and barely held on to win. They then turned the ball over 22 times against the Terps. Not having Mühl at point guard certainly hurt them in that department. Expect UConn to get back on track once it starts getting people back. I’m sure the Huskies are thinking to themselves that Maryland is lucky Fudd wasn’t around to provide some perimeter offense to compliment Edwards’ inside production.

No. 16 Creighton Bluejays (8-1, 2-1 Big East)

In our last update, I was concerned that Creighton had only beaten Xavier by six. The Bluejays have since lost to St. John’s (RV, 19 points), a loss that dropped them five spots in the rankings to No. 18. Creighton moved back up two spots on Monday after losses by previously-No. 12 Arizona and previously-No. 14 Michigan. The Bluejays took care of their assignment last week, defeating Drake on Saturday. It was only a four-point win though. Morgan Maly had 24 points and six rebounds; Emma Ronsiek had 19 points, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

We knew Gonzaga beating No. 2 Stanford was a long shot on Dec. 4 and the Bulldogs did indeed fall to the Cardinal, 84-63, hours after our last update. They have since bounced back with two straight wins, defeating Queens 73-49 last Tuesday and UC Davis 73-55 this past Sunday. Leading scorer Yvonne Ejim had 32 points in the Queens game.

The Wildcats have cruised since their 67-46 loss to Creighton on Dec. 2 and it has allowed them to hang on to their spot in the rankings. They’ve been at No. 25 for three weeks straight. Maddy Siegrist can do no wrong with at least 21 points in each game this season, including 29, 24 and 31 since our last update. Villanova won those games 79-54 over Providence, 83-42 over American and 82-59 over St. Joseph’s, respectively. Lucy Olsen (20 points against St. Joe’s) remains a worthy secondary star and Maddie Burke has established herself as a 3-point specialist with nine threes over the last three games accounting for 27 of her 30 points. She was 4-of-4 from distance against St. Joe’s.

Maddy Siegrist (with ball)
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

RV (19 points) St. John’s Red Storm (10-0, 2-0 Big East)

Creighton cut it to two with a Ronsiek jumper at 1:27 remaining, but free throws allowed St. John’s to hang on and win on Dec. 4. The Red Storm started receiving votes the next day and went on to comfortably defeat both Iona and Bethune-Cookman. Jillian Archer averaged 15 points and 12.5 rebounds over the two games. St. John’s is currently the first team out of the rankings and is the only remaining unbeaten in the Big East.

Marquette fell out of the rankings after losing to Seton Hall on Dec. 4. Since then, the Golden Eagles have played just one game; it was a 77-53 victory over Loyola Chicago. The team saw a pair of 30-point performances over the two-game stretch (Chloe Marotta vs. Seton Hall and Jordan King vs, Loyola Chicago).

RV (4 points) Rice Owls (8-0, 0-0 Conference USA)

Rice started receiving votes on Dec. 5 and is receiving the same amount of voting points this week. It won a double-overtime thriller over Houston this past Saturday to remain unbeaten. Destiny Jackson was phenomenal with with 33 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.

RV (1 point) Middle Tennessee Lady Raiders (6-2, 0-0 Conference USA)

The Lady Raiders received 23 points, six rebounds and five assists from Savannah Wheeler in their big-time win over preseason-No. 7 Louisville on Dec. 4. With strong second and third quarters they were able to win by 18 points over the mighty Cards. They remain with one voting point for the second week in a row after defeating Memphis 69-53 this past Saturday. Wheeler had 14 points, nine boards and six helpers in that one, while Jalynn Gregory paced the Lady Raiders with 22 points.

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