The NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee is set to reveal another round of its top 16 teams in the country Thursday night on ESPN, during halftime of the game between No. 1 UConn and No. 7 South Carolina.
During the showcase in Columbia, South Carolina, the committee will not only unveil the nation’s top-ranked 16 teams but also will release the top four teams in each region at 7 p.m. EST Thursday night.
Of the teams ranked by the committee in the top 16 on Jan. 18, only two remain undefeated. UConn sits on top of the rankings with an overall record of 20-0 with Mississippi State following close behind in second with a 22-0 record.
UConn has proved itself as a solid team year in and year out and has held AP’s top spot since this year’s preseason rankings came out. The second-place spot has been a battle between Texas, Notre Dame and Louisville, with Mississippi State ultimately landing at No. 2 heading into Week 14.
Although Ole Miss is not ranked in either the top 16 committee ranking or the AP top 25, half of the SEC is represented in the first NCAA Committee top 16 with Mississippi State leading the pack at No. 1, followed by Tennessee at No. 5, South Carolina at No. 7, Missouri at No. 13, Texas A&M at No. 14 and Georgia bringing up the rear of ranked SEC teams at No. 16.
The Rebels have played more than half of these teams this season, having faced South Carolina, Missouri, Mississippi State and Tennessee, but each game ended in defeat for Ole Miss. Although the outcomes weren’t what the Rebels had hoped for, the team improved in the two weeks between its pair of matchups against second-ranked Mississippi State. The Rebels held the Bulldogs to a 20-point victory in the second matchup, an 11-point increase over the 31-point victory in favor of the Bulldogs the first time the two teams met in January.
With eight games remaining this season, the Rebels will take on the rest of the top 16 SEC teams from the first reveal, which includes Texas A&M on the road and a home/away series with Georgia.
Another high-profile game prior to Thursday night’s reveal will take place between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Tennessee Volunteers in a crucial SEC matchup in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Though this ranking reveal will be a telling sign for where each team stands, it doesn’t mean any team should be counted out for the rest of the season. With the third and final Thursday Night Showcase set for Feb. 19, numerous key games are still to be played, and teams will once again be evaluated and identified, with potential regional assignments for all 16 teams more than plausible.
However, these top 16 announcements will have no bearing on the final 64-team field for the 2018 NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Championship, and the official bracket will be announced during the Selection Special at 7 p.m. EST on Monday, March 12, on ESPN.