A lot has happened since the last DI Women’s College rankings. Teams have qualified for nationals, fallen off since winter break, or made a complete a turnaround since the fall. The drastic change in certain teams, however, has truncated the list from 25 to 20 teams. That said, we’re eager to see how our “watch list” teams perform over the next month in hopes of expanding the rankings.
The top six have not changed since last year, but we’re keeping an eye on Army. The Cadets are currently ranked sixth but we think they’re better than that – especially after racking up a 49-3 halftime lead over Brown last weekend. They’re only playing friendlies this year, including last fall, but they could give any of the top five teams a real run for their money.
Northern Iowa is ranked the highest they’ve been in years. Always a solid team renowned for their size and power, UNI really impressed at the college 7s championship in December. Yes, they showcased the type of players for which the Midwest is known, but athletes like Karlee West, Crystal Nye and Angie McArdle showed how dangerous they can be with a little extra space.
New Mexico also made a big jump up the rankings after winning a play-in seed out of the Pacific Mountain Conference, which received two automatic bids to the Round of 16. The most recent bid was awarded to UNM, which defeated Arizona State 79-5 (necessitating ASU’s removal from the rankings) in the semis and UCLA 32-31 in the final. While there’s temptation to rank the Bruins one slot below UNM, be aware that UCLA had a bye on day one.
There’s also temptation to rank California higher after the Golden Bears have made a late-breaking surge. Cal lost their league matches to UC Davis and Chico State before winning both rematches at the PMC North play-in. Like UCLA, Chico State was fresh on day two, but Cal rallied to a 27-17 victory.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, PMC compatriots Air Force and Colorado State have been removed the rankings, as they both pulled out of the play-ins. Whether due to numbers or finances, a forfeit at this level, at this stage of playoffs, is a punishable offense.
Texas A&M has emerged as the region’s best team, going 6-0 through league and bettering the previously higher ranked Texas and Texas Tech, which have fallen off the top 20. Tech came within a try of A&M during their last meeting but currently sits at 2-3.
On the east coast, the Mason Dixon Rugby Conference kicked off their post season last weekend, and the biggest story came at the hands of James Madison, which defeated North Carolina 32-27 in the quarterfinals. Just a couple of weeks prior, UNC had edged Virginia Women’s Rugby in the teams’ final league match and warranted the suspicion that the Tar Heels were hitting their stride. But JMU was the better team last Saturday and keeps UNC out of nationals for the first time in years.
We’ll keep an eye on James Madison (although they’re again the underdog against West Chester in this weekend’s semifinal), as well as Central Florida, which just jumped onto the top 20. UCF, typically Flroida’s untouchable powerhouse, got off to a slow start this year. They started with a deficit but eventually improved to a 4-1-1 record, ending the league season with a 43-22 win over Orange Divison leader Florida State.
We’re keeping tabs on Michigan, which won the Nash Bash tournament over Indiana, and Boston University, which won the Four Leaf 15s tournament over Buffalo. They’re experiencing success despite the unthawed, snowy conditions.
The Ivy League will also be better evaluated after this weekend, when the conference hosts its final four. The game to watch is Princeton v Radcliffe on Saturday, while Brown is expected to top Dartmouth.
The next couple of weekends are big ones in the women’s college sphere in general, so keep an eye out for updated rankings next Monday.
Women DI College Top 20 - March 26, 2013
1 (1) Penn State (6-0) (8-0) Won the Big 10 Conference; spring break in France
2 (2) Norwich (7-0) (12-0) Won NECRC championship
3 (3) Stanford (5-0) Won Pacific Mountain North
4 (4) Women's Cougar Rugby (4-0) Won Pacific Mountain East
5 (5) Navy (5-0) Won Mason Dixon quarterfinal 39-0 Virginia Tech
6 (6) Army (record uncertain) Put 49 up points to Brown's 3 in one half. Going to DI playoffs in Pittsburgh.
7 (12) Northern Iowa (5-0) Won Midwest Conference; heading to Sweet 16 in Allendale, Mich.
8 (7) Brown (5-0) Top seed in Ivy League; semifinal against Dartmouth this weekend
9 (8) California (4-3) Won Pacific Mountain North play-in; defeated UC Davis 22-14, Chico State 27-17
10 (10) UVA (4-1) Won Mason Dixon quarterfinal 26-5 over Pittsburgh
11 (16) New Mexico (5-1) Won Pacific Coast Mountain play-in; defeated Arizona State 79-5, then UCLA 32-31
12 (9) Radcliffe (3-2) Finished 3rd in Ivy League; semifinal against Princeton this weekend
13 (11) UCLA (8-0) Lost PMC play-in to New Mexico 31-30
14 (13) Princeton (4-1) Finished 2nd in Ivy League; semifinal against Radcliffe this weekend
15 (unr) Texas A&M Won Southwest Conference with 49-29 win over Texas
16 (14) Chico State (4-2) Lost PMC North play-in to Cal 27-17
17 (22) Indiana (5-1) Finished 2nd in Big 10; finished 2nd at Nash Bash last weekend, lost 19-5 to Michigan
18 (21) West Chester (4-1) Defeated East Carolina 79-5 in Mason Dixon quarterfinal
19 (20) North Carolina (4-1) Lost Mason Dixon quarterfinal to James Madison 32-27
20 (unr) Central Florida (4-1-1) Ended league with 43-22 win over Greather Southern Orange leader Florida State