We’ve covered the top-25 teams the majority of the season, but there’s plenty of AP unranked teams you should have on your radar ahead of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
Here are eight (in alphabetical order) that you should know about before filling out that NCAA bracket.
FLORIDA GULF COAST — The Eagles are known for their dominance in the ASUN under head coach Karl Smesko. FGCU is on a 20-game winning streak and is en route to its fourth consecutive ASUN title and seventh overall. This is always a fun team to watch. They can shoot the lights out and are currently ranked No. 6 in scoring offense, averaging 83.7 points per game. All eyes go toward Kierstan Bell, who has been an offensive nightmare for many foes, averaging 25.2 points per game and is No. 5 in the country in scoring.
GEORGIA TECH — The Yellow Jackets secured their highest seed (No. 3) in program history in the ACC tournament this season. Georgia Tech takes a lot of pride on the defensive end as the ACC’s No. 1 team in scoring defense, holding its opponents to only 61.6 points per game, while leading the conference in rebounding defense (34.3). In fact, Lorela Cubaj leads the ACC in rebounds, averaging 11.5 boards per game. Cubaj brings a strong presence in the paint. She leads her team in blocks, swatting away 29 shots. Georgia Tech has a balanced offense with three players averaging in double digits.
IOWA — The Hawkeyes have the No. 2 scoring offense in the nation behind Maryland. A lot of Iowa’s success is found in the duo of Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano, both consistent scorers. Clark can impact the game at all scoring levels and is ranked second in the country in scoring. The freshman guard is also elite at creating for her teammates, helping the Hawkeyes become the No. 5 team in the country in assists. Czinano dominates the paint. Iowa has impressive wins over Iowa State, Rutgers and notably Michigan by double-digit points.
NORTHWESTERN — The Wildcats have a star in Veronica Burton, who creates pressure on opponents with her elite defense. Burton leads the nation with 80 steals and has been the Big Ten’s leader in that stat line for the third consecutive season. With the help of Burton, Northwestern is holding its opponents to only 61.9 points per game, which is ranked No. 3 in the Big Ten. At 13-6, Northwestern has one more conference matchup against Michigan on March 6, so that could be a huge resume booster for the Wildcats.
OKLAHOMA STATE — The Cowgirls are one of the best defensive teams in the nation. Oklahoma State is ranked No. 1 in blocked shots (165), top 20 in steals (217) and ranked in the top 40 in field-goal percentage defense. That’s credit to Naismith Defensive Player of the Year finalist Natasha Mack hosting a block party in the paint. Mack leads the nation with 97 blocks. Not only is Oklahoma State elite on the defensive end, they are No. 13 in the country in rebounds. That attention also draws back to Mack, who’s ranked No. 7 nationally in rebounds per game. The Cowgirls have big wins over Big 12 foes West Virginia, Texas and Iowa State this season. Watch out for this team.
OLE MISS —The Rebels swept Kentucky in a two-game series, plus Ole Miss lost to Tennessee by a single point this season. We’ve seen the Rebels take down SEC opponents with one of the best offenses in the conference. Ole Miss is second in the SEC in points per game and free throws made while leading the SEC in assists. Shakira Austin leads the Rebels in points at 17.9 per game.
OREGON STATE — It’s been a tough ride for the Beavers to get in a rhythm with 11 game cancellations due to COVID-19 protocols. In fact, they have played the fewest games out of all Pac-12 opponents. Despite the roadblocks, the 9-6 Beavers have made noise in the Pac-12 to close out the regular season in preparation for the Pac-12 tournament. Oregon State has back-to-back upsets against top-14 opponents UCLA and Oregon and has made its way to a No. 5 seed in the conference tournament. The Beavers are lead by Aleah Goodman, who averages 16.8 points per game and is ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring and No. 1 in 3-point percentage (52.6).
VIRGINIA TECH — The Hokies’ 13-8 record doesn’t tell the whole story. Virginia Tech has given some of the nation’s elite teams a run for their money this season. In January, the Hokies fell to then-No. 2 Louisville by 4. The ACC test didn’t get easier going up against NC State in a back-to-back series. The Hokies only lost to the Wolfpack by two points in their first matchup and won in overtime later that week to knock off the then-No. 2 team. Virginia Tech has one of the best 3-point shooters in Aisha Sheppard, who leads the nation in made 3s (84). Elizabeth Kitley’s inside game complements Sheppard well. They combine to average 38 points.