We're one month out from March Madness and teams are making their final run in conference play, burning up the rankings in hopes of making league tourneys before the Big Dance. Lets take a look at the five teams in D1 Women's Basketball that made the biggest leaps up the standings this week:
BR-150 Northern Kentucky (+30)
Photo courtesy of Northern Kentucky Athletics
With a solid final week in January that saw BR-150 Northern Kentucky dish out wins over Cleveland State, 83-51, and Youngstown State, 88-77, the Norse blazed up the rankings 30 spots heading into February. Last night the team faced off with UIC and won –72-61. It was the Norse's third third straight win, all on the road, for their longest streak of the season.
Northern Kentucky has all the makings of a team that can surprise in the Horizon League, led by Christine Roush and Kasey Uetrecht. Roush is pumping in a team-high 15.4 points per game and has 15 total blocks and 25 steals while Uetrecht isn't far behind with 11.5 points per game, 29 steals and 5.8 boards per contest.
BR-53 Temple (+19)
Photo by Joseph V. Labolito, courtesy of Temple Athletics
BR-53 Temple is on a three-game winning streak, but its the way in which the Owls have dominated that has turned heads. Temple picked off Tulane 72-54, East Carolina 83-63 and SMU 55-35 — knocking off each of the three by nearly 20 points apiece. South Florida is next on the team's docket and the Bulls are going to need to bring the firepower in order to slow down this train led by a three-headed monster in Alliya Butts, Feyonda Fitzgerald and Tanaya Atkinson. Butts has racked up 15.8 points per game this season to go along with her team-high 62 steals. Fitzgerald compliments Butts with 13.8 points while Atkinson is draining buckets at a rate of 11.2 points per game to go with her 5.8 rebounds.
BR-116 San Francisco (+16)
Photo by Max Simpson, courtesy of San Francisco Athletics
BR-116 San Francisco's biggest win of the season came over the weekend when the team lit up BR-69 Gonzaga 71-52. Earlier in the season the 49ers fell to the Gonzaga 68-47 — the 21st straight time the team has fell to its conference foe. This time around the squad came in with a gameplan and stuck to it, lifting themselves up 16 notches in the rankings in the process. While the team is just 14-9 on the season, a few players are really shining on this roster. Taylor Proctor has been phenomenal, putting together 13.7 points and 7.6 rebounds per game while grabbing 10 blocks. Zhane Dikes is ticking off at 14.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game and has a team-high 19 steals.
BR-46 Iowa (+14)
Photo courtesy of Hawkeye Athletics
BR-46 Iowa snapped a three-game losing streak by picking up two wins in a row last week, downing Michigan 85-69 and Northwestern 79-64. They suffered a 79-74 loss to Indiana last night, but have a chance at redemption vs. Michigan State on Sunday.
The Hawkeyes are a balanced team led by Ally Disterhoft and her 16.6 points per game thus far to go with her 5.5 rpg and 21 total steals. Chase Coley has 11.0 points, 5.5 boards and 19 blocks, and Alexa Kastanek is chipping in with 10.3 points and 26 steals. Don't forget about block-machine Megan Gustafson, who has 37 swats to her credit to go with her 8.8 points per game.
BR-139 Arkansas-Little Rock (14)
Photo courtesy of Arkansas-Little Rock Athletics
BR-139 Arkansas-Little Rock ticked up 14 spots in the rankings this week with three consecutive victories. The Trojans extended their streak against Troy last night, 79-64, after starting with wins over UT-Arlington (59-55), Georgia Southern (69-36), and Georgia State (59-32). Shanity James has been the spark plug making this team go this year, picking up 14.4 points per game and 7.1 rebounds per contest — both team highs. Alexius Dawn has also contributed big time with 10.5 points, a team-high 32 steals and 53 assists with the Trojans going 8-11 overall (6-4 Sun Belt).