By Spencer Chism
Tis’ the season for college basketball. The 2021-22 season began on Tuesday, Nov. 8 and GoodSport has provided a sneak-peak into some of the most interesting teams to look out for in this new season.
Stanford (AP No. 3)
The defending champion Stanford Cardinal was voted No. 3 in the AP Top 25 preseason poll and also received five first-place votes. Although it lost Kiana Williams to the WNBA draft this spring, the other four regular starters are returning. Expect Haley Jones and Lexie Hull to make the leap in scoring this year, and if they were able to win as a young team last year, they pose an even greater threat this year. The Cardinal is primed to make another championship-level run and should be considered the top-ranked preseason team.
UConn (AP No. 2)
The fan-favorite University of Connecticut Huskies are expected to compete once again for a championship this year. It doesn’t hurt to have the reigning Wooden Award, AP Player of the Year Award, and Naismith Award winner Paige Bueckers on the team, who averaged over 20 points per game for the Huskies last season. As just a sophomore, it’s incredible what Bueckers has been able to do so far in her young career. Not to mention her teammates Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, and Aaliyah Edwards, who are all exceptional players in their own rights. All five starters are returning this season and we can expect them to challenge the reigning champion Stanford Cardinal, and any other team that crosses their path. Coach Geno Auriemma may have yet another dynasty on his hands.
South Carolina (AP No. 1)
The top three teams in the AP Preseason Poll separated themselves from the rest of the pack in voting points, with each having unique aspects. Being the AP No. 1 team comes with big responsibilities — South Carolina will be playing five of the top-10 preseason ranked teams this season in non-conference play, and three top-25 ranked teams in conference play. The reigning SEC Champions have all five starters returning this season and should pose a major threat to other teams given their success last season. In particular, forward Aliyah Boston is a rebounding machine that will most likely be the most valuable player of this young and dangerous squad.
Iowa (AP No. 9)
Hawkeyes guard Caitlin Clark led the country in scoring last year with 26.6 points per game as a freshman, winning the WBCA co-Freshman of the Year award, along with Bueckers. Clark also averaged seven assists per contest and shot over 40 percent from beyond the arc. Clark was able to carry the team to a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament last season despite falling to UConn in the Sweet 16. Iowa was unranked at the end of last year, but came out No. 9 this new season. All five starters return for what should be an eventful season for this up-and-coming team.
Texas A&M (AP No. 23)
The Aggies were unranked to end the 2021 campaign but are No. 23 beginning this season — they were also ranked No. 17 in the Coaches Poll, No. 13 in NCAA Net Rankings, and No. 3 in the Top 16 committee ranking. While it seems the Associated Press isn’t that high on Texas A&M, much of the rest of the country has taken notice. The Aggies ended up losing in the Sweet 16 during the NCAA tournament last year, but probably could’ve made a much deeper run had it not been for a hot Arizona team and a superhuman performance by Aari McDonald. Kayla Wells is expected to make a big leap this year as she was added to the Cheryl Miller Award Watch List. With the top two leading scorers gone, Wells and Jordan Nixon will look to lead this well-rounded veteran Aggies team in a season that looks promising for them. The big question is, how good will the Aggies be? Will they end up at the bottom of the ranked teams as some predict, or will they be contending for a championship?