Feast week is the start of college basketball season, where many teams play in tournaments to see how good they can become. This year we saw several excellent performances throughout women’s basketball. However, the four most impressive women’s basketball teams are Michigan, Tennessee, USF, and BYU. I am picking these teams because some people have forgotten about their success from a year ago. America needs to take notice of these teams because they all can reach the elite eight.
The Four Most Impressive Women’s Basketball Teams After Feast Week
1. Michigan Wolverines
Last year Michigan was robbed in an overtime loss to Baylor in the Sweet Sixteen. However, the Wolverines brought everyone back from that team, including stars Naz Hillmon and Leigha Brown. These big-time performers can lead their team to an elite eight-run. This week Michigan competed in the Daytona Beach Invitational, where they played a ranked Oregon State team and Mississippi State. Michigan was only challenged in the Oregon State game. They crushed Mississippi State by 16 despite only having a three-point halftime lead. Brown had 23 points in their most recent victory over Mississippi State. Their next game is Thursday against 10th ranked Louisville, where they can prove that this incredible start is not a fluke. Michigan is the best team in the Big Ten and deserves recognition for their efforts this year.
2. Tennessee Lady Volunteers
As a UConn fan, it hurts me to say this, but the Vols are back! After a disappointing end to last season in a second-round upset to Michigan, they look like a team on a mission this year. Star Jordan Horston leads them; she has put the team on her back in their wins over UCF, USF, and Texas. The USF win was imposing; during this game, Tennessee lost one of their best players, Rae Burrell, to a knee injury, but Tennessee proved that they would be okay without her for now. USF is an excellent team that beat Oregon and Stanford, yet Tennessee took them down without their best player. In the Texas game, Jordan Horston had 28 points to lead her team to an upset. Tennessee was down by ten entering the fourth quarter and looked done, but Horston brought her team back into the game and won it in overtime. This week they went to the South Point Shootout, where they beat Kansas and Oklahoma State by a combined 35 points. Tennessee will play Stanford later this month, giving them another chance to prove that they are back.
3. University of South Florida Bulls
USF started this season under scrutiny from the NCAA for violations by their coach Jose Fernandez. My recent article Under Scrutiny: University of South Florida Women’s Basketball explored many of the challenges USF faces starting this season. Despite all of those challenges and missed practice time, the Bulls have performed superbly this season. They have two top ten wins over Oregon and Stanford. In the Oregon game, they managed to win without an excellent performance from Bethy Mununga. She only had two points in that win, but she responded with an astonishing 23 rebounds in the Stanford game. These are the most significant wins of Fernandez’s tenure at USF, and he has a pesky defense that can make a run this season. No team has scored more than 62 points in any of USF’s first seven games this season. The Bulls even held UConn to just 60 points. They may have lost to Tennessee and Connecticut, but they gave both teams all they could handle. I am anxious to see what the rest of the season holds for them; the West Palm Beach Invitational will test them with West Virginia and Ole Miss.
4. Brigham Young University Cougars
BYU is off to a flying start this season and looks like the favorite in the West Coast Conference. Before the St. Pete Showcase that they competed in this week, the Cougars had already knocked off Arizona State and Boise State. In the showcase, they knocked off two consecutive ranked opponents in wins over FSU and West Virginia. Shaylee Gonzales, who was named tournament MVP, had 24 points in the FSU win and 20 in the WVU win, including the game-winning free throws with 3.1 seconds left. Gonzales is an excellent shooter that proved clutch in these wins; she will help lead this team on a run in March. BYU is fortunate to have Sara Hamson; her numbers may not be gaudy; having a 6 foot seven presence on the floor makes a significant difference. BYU has various options and uses ball movement to keep everyone involved, and they do not beat themselves. They play brilliant defense and have held six of seven opponents under 70 points. This stout defense will be challenging for the WCC to contend with, and BYU has one more chance against Oklahoma to get another big win.
These are the four most impressive women’s basketball teams from Feast Week; all four of these teams have seismic potential this season and can each make a deep run in the tournament. I look forward to watching the rest of the season to see if these four teams reach their potential or if others can rise and take their place. As long as they remain healthy, all four teams should have excellent seasons.
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