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Three unbeaten teams left in women’s basketball face upcoming tests

By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer

With conference play heating up, there are only three unbeaten teams left in women’s basketball.

No. 1 South Carolina, No. 2 UCLA and fourth-ranked Baylor are all 14-0. None of the three was predicted to even win their conference with defending champion LSU the preseason choice in the SEC; Utah in the Pac-12 and Texas in the Big 12.

The Gamecocks reached the NCAA Tournament unbeaten last year with a senior-laden team and made it all the way to the Final Four before falling to Iowa. UConn was the last team to run the table, going 38-0 in 2015-16.

All three have tests this week with South Carolina playing at Missouri; UCLA visiting No. 9 Southern Cal and Baylor playing at Kansas and Iowa State.

The Bruins will probably have the toughest time reaching the Pac-12 tournament unbeaten as the conference is the most difficult in the country. UCLA is one of five teams in the Pac-12 that are ranked and Oregon State is another really good team that lost its first two games of the year last week, falling to the Bruins and the Trojans.

South Carolina still has a showdown at LSU on Jan. 25 and Baylor has to face Texas and Kansas State.

While going undefeated in the regular season is great, all three coaches would gladly trade that for cutting down the nets in Cleveland after winning a national championship.

BIG TEN SHOWDOWN

Caitlin Clark leads Iowa against Indiana on Saturday in a matchup of two of the top teams in the Big Ten. Both schools are 4-0 with the Hawkeyes playing at Purdue on Wednesday. The Hoosiers, who have won 12 straight since losing to Stanford early in the season, host Penn State that same night.

CHALLENGING WEEK

No. 21 Florida State has a busy week with two home games against ranked teams. The Seminoles host No. 20 North Carolina on Thursday and 11th-ranked Virginia Tech on Sunday. Florida State has already played four Top 25 teams this season and gone 1-3.

CLOSING IN

Vanderbilt was just outside the Top 25 this week after starting the season 15-1 — the team’s best start since the 1992-93 season. That team won its first 16 games en route to a 17-0 start and made it to the Final Four. The Commodores, who were last ranked in 2014, play Kentucky and Missouri this week.

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AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-basketball-poll and https://apnews.com/hub/college-basketball

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