09 Jan

Ex-UConn star Renee Montgomery highlights parity in women’s college basketball after losses by Huskies, LSU

The 2023-24 women’s college basketball season began with a handful of teams looking like clear national championship contenders, but things have changed drastically after Week 1. The entertaining chaos has not escaped former UConn star Renee Montgomery, who pointed out the parity the sport has developed.

“Right now if somebody says they know who is going to win, they are lying because we have no idea,” Montgomery said on CBS Sports’ “We Need to Talk.” “We watched the No. 1 team go down on the first week in November, not March Madness. In November we watched the No. 1 team go down, LSU. Then we watched the No. 2 team go down, my Huskies.”

The LSU Tigers were considered a super team heading into the season and looked unbeatable on paper. However, LSU was upset by then-No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 6 to become the first reigning champion to lose a season opener since 1995.

A few days later, despite a 27-point performance by star Paige Bueckers, No. 2 Uconn also went down to a then-unranked NC State team.

The LSU and UConn losses meant that on Monday, for the second time in the history of the AP Top 25 poll, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams did not remain in the top two spots after Week 1. Colorado jumped 15 spots to No. 5, and NC State rose to No. 14.

Meanwhile, South Carolina — a team expected to be going through somewhat of a rebuilding year — put everyone on notice with two 100-point games to start the season. The Gamecocks went from No. 6 to the top spot in a week, the biggest leap to No. 1 since 1977.

Most of the biggest storylines this past offseason were about veteran returners such as Bueckers, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and LSU’s Angel Reese. High-profile transfers such as UCLA’s Lauren Betts and LSU’s Hailey Van Lith were also a major talking point. However, Montgomery pointed out the young talent is making quite a bit of noise as well.

“The freshmen were like, ‘Knock, knock, who’s there? It’s us, baby. Here we are in the building,'” Montgomery said. “Because it’s not just one freshman. We saw [South Carolina’s MiLaysia Fulwiley], but we also see [USC’s] JuJu Watkins, we also see Hannah [Hidalgo] over there at Notre Dame.”

Years ago, only a few teams dominated women’s college basketball. But with the sport’s talent pool getting increasingly deep, the unexpected is now the expected in any game.

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