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1. Washington (NW): Even though Element did not attend Centex, they rest above the rest of the competition right now. Lucy Williams, Amanda Kostic, and Cailey Marsh, with captains Erica Petru, Margo Kelly, and Sarah Benditt, (just to name a few of this incredibly talented team) are leading the team into the post season with great momentum.
2. Iowa State (NC): Woman Scorned decisively won Centex over the reigning National Champions. It is exciting to see this team putting it all together on the field. A team who was truly committed to developing their roster last season, is reaping the reward of having the most depth and explosiveness out of any team out there. Magon Liu, Cami Nelson, and Becca Miller are unstoppable (not to mention Sarah Hoistad, Lindsey Gapstur, and Sarah Pesch). Their offense is both calm and collected, but has the ability to run quickly with a one-huck score.
3. Sonoma State (SW): Another team opting out of traveling to Centex, has great momentum. They are placing high, making semis and finals in top tournaments, and pushing to peak at the right time. Only time will tell to see whether or not the long break in competition helps to develop more depth to help them succeed in a long tournament like Nationals.
4. California-Santa Barbara (SW): The Burning Skirts are on the rise. Losing only to Iowa State at Centex (though they did so twice), they are also putting it together–they are clearly not the team that faltered at earlier season tournaments. We were worried this flame would flicker out – the Skirts’ performance at Centex reminds us it’s burning strong.
5. Michigan (GL): A third place finish at Centex shows that Flywheel isn’t falling off as a top contender this season. Michigan’s got great chemistry and consistency, but will get beaten by the Iowa States of the women’s scene who simply play a bigger game than Flywheel.
6. UNC (AC): They beat UCLA, but lost to Virginia in bracket play. Honestly, with the number of times the top teams in the Atlantic Coast match up in a season, UNC was going to fall sooner or later, in a regional rivalry game. Especially considering Lindsay Lang was out for the first half of the game against Hydra, we’re confident a healthy UNC will take them next time, and the first spot out of the Atlantic Coast.
7. Oregon (NW): Fugue under-performed at Stanford Invite, but that doesn’t stop us from considering them near the top. If these girls regroup and work out a few kinks they ran in to in Palo Alto (like more practice in non-windy conditions or stepping up their man defense), they’ll have no trouble making it to Nationals and killing it in Boulder.
8. UCLA (SW): BLU has consistently ranked in the top at tournaments. It’s hard to place them any higher in these rankings, however, as they seem to be hardly improving while other teams streak by them. Though they’ve got a few stars, their loss to Santa Barbara in Semis and then Michigan in the third place game shows they aren’t ready to top the Southwest.
9. Wisconsin (NC): They are finally putting it together and starting to play like the top team they have the potential to be this season. With a slew of returners, they are finally assuming new roles, and owning the roles they have.
10. Virginia (AC): Virginia had a great weekend at Centex, making it to quarters, and finishing sixth. We still don’t know how Hydra will match up against the teams that weren’t there, like Washington, Oregon, Sonoma State, and the like, but they’re making a very strong case for finishing second in the AC.
11. UBC (NW): UBC did a great job representing the Northwest this weekend – if by our pick the third team out of NW is finishing seventh at a competitive tournament like Centex, they are proving a team to reckon with.
12. Cal (SW): They won their pool, with a game over Michigan, but then lost to UCLA in quarters, then Wisconsin, then UBC… Inconsistent play from Cal late in the season could have them fighting for the last spot out of the Southwest.
13. Texas: Texas showed moments of brilliance this Centex weekend. The tourney hosts have one of the most impressive horizontal offenses we’ve seen this season (how do their cutters get open SO MUCH?), and a ninth place finish at Centex is definitely something to be proud of, but a few too many unforced turnovers keep them from placing higher in these rankings.
14. Iowa: They underperformed at Centex, but did not complete plays they typically do. Unlike last season, they have not peaked yet–and have plenty of time to make the necessary adjustments to help them finish at least in quarters at Nationals.