November 19, 2023 

Welcome to Blood Week, women’s college basketball

The carnage in the AP Poll through two weeks is reaching unprecedented levels

Ranked teams lose every week. But there comes a special moment in every season’s life when it’s time for a bunch of them to lose at the same time, when no one is safe, when charting week-to-week movement in the AP Poll looks less like mostly straight lines and more like a spider web. Every year, there is a Blood Week.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

The Blood Week is a sacred principle in college football created by the podcast The Shutdown Fullcast. The podcasters on that show were asked if the specific week of college football was a Blood Week so often, they created an intentionally (mostly) inactive account on X, formerly known as Twitter, for it. Collegiate athletics anthropologists Ryan Nanni and Jason Kirk loosely outlined the requirements for a blood week as “at least five ranked teams suffering upset losses, with at least two being top-10 teams at the time,” with obvious caveats that blood weeks can theoretically include no top-10 losses but mass upsets from the Nos. 11-25 and that “upsets” such as the No. 13 beating the No. 10 are not blood week-worthy. And this concept is by no means limited to football.

The Next, a 24/7/365 women’s basketball newsroom

The Next: A basketball newsroom brought to you by The IX. 24/7/365 women’s basketball coverage, written, edited and photographed by our young, diverse staff and dedicated to breaking news, analysis, historical deep dives and projections about the game we love.

The biggest blood week in women’s college basketball history might have come last November. In Week 2, the poll’s No. 3 Texas, No. 4 Iowa, No. 6 Louisville, No. 11 Tennessee, No. 16 Oklahoma and No. 22 Nebraska all suffered big upsets; more bloodily, Oklahoma was the only one of that group to not have lost to an unranked team. Per Across The Timeline, the poll following that carnage featured what was then the most week-to-week movement in AP poll history.

Another strong blood week of recent years was, coincidentally, the second week of the 2020-21 season. No. 1 South Carolina, No. 4 Baylor, No. 6 Mississippi State, No. 18 Gonzaga and No. 23 Iowa State all lost either as heavy favorites and/or to unranked teams. Three top-10 losses in the same week is rare, and having two top-five losses including the No. 1 probably happens about as often as the mass emergence of cicadas.

With that in mind, let’s just take a look at how this season’s preseason AP Poll fared over its first week. From Oct. 17:

(Strikethroughs given only to upset losses)

  1. LSU — 14-point loss to No. 20 Colorado
  2. UConn — 11-point loss to unranked NC State
  3. Iowa
  4. UCLA
  5. Utah
  6. South Carolina
  7. Ohio State — nine-point loss to No. 21 USC
  8. Virginia Tech — four-point loss to No. 3 Iowa
  9. Indiana — 32-point loss to No. 15 Stanford
  10. Notre Dame — 29-point loss to No. 6 South Carolina, which wasn’t an upset but was so bad that it felt like blood
  11. Tennessee — one-point loss to No. 18 Florida State
  12. Mississippi — 10-point loss to unranked Oklahoma
  13. Texas
  14. Maryland — 38-point loss to No. 6 South Carolina, see: Notre Dame
  15. Stanford
  16. North Carolina — nearly lost to never-been-ranked Davidson
  17. Louisville — nearly lost to unranked DePaul
  18. Florida State
  19. Baylor
  20. Colorado — trailed unranked Oklahoma State in the fourth quarter
  21. USC
  22. Creighton
  23. Illinois — four-point loss to unranked Marquette
  24. Wazzu — taken to overtime by unranked Gonzaga
  25. Mississippi State

To write that out, Week One saw upset losses suffered by the Nos. 1, 2, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 23. Nos. 10 and 14 suffered what felt like terrifying losses, and Nos. 16, 17, 20 and 24 were all in serious trouble of losing to unranked teams. Per ATT, that caused on average the most week-to-week movement in AP Poll history, the first time in 25 years that the preseason top two both fell in the first in-season poll, and the both the biggest ranked-to-ranked increase and unranked-to-ranked increase in poll history.

Get 24/7 soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribe to The Next now and receive 50% off your subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

Thankfully that was just a strong adjustment to a new and surprising landsca- NOPE, TEAMS AREN’T SAFE YET. Because it’s one thing to have a blood week, but folks we might be looking at an unprecedented back-to-back blood weeks. 

The Nov. 13 poll:

  1. South Carolina
  2. Iowa — seven-point loss to unranked Kansas State
  3. UCLA — trailed unranked Princeton with 2.5 minutes left in the fourth quarter
  4. Utah — seven-point loss to No. 21 Baylor
  5. Colorado
  6. Stanford
  7. LSU
  8. UConn
  9. Virginia Tech
  10. USC
  11. Texas
  12. Florida State — tied with unranked Florida with two minutes left
  13. Ohio State
  14. NC State
  15. Tennessee — taken to overtime by unranked Memphis
  16. Notre Dame
  17. North Carolina
  18. Indiana
  19. Louisville
  20. Maryland
  21. Baylor
  22. Creighton — 12-point loss to unranked Green Bay
  23. Mississippi — tied with never-been-ranked Howard in the mid-fourth quarter
  24. Wazzu
  25. Oklahoma

In addition, the only school not ranked by the AP but ranked by the USA Today Coaches is No. 22 Duke. The Blue Devils almost lost to unranked Columbia and did lose to Davidson, neither of which have ever been ranked.

It may look like this week has been light on the blood, though two big top-five upsets and shocking losses by both Nos. 22 is significant enough by itself. But consider some of today’s schedule (all times Eastern):

#23 Mississippi v. Arizona (Noon, FloHoops)
Harvard @ #21 Baylor (2 p.m., ESPN+)
#25 Oklahoma @ Virginia (2 p.m., ACC Network)
Rhode Island @ #14 NC State (2 p.m., ACC Network Extra)
Troy @ #16 Tennessee (2 p.m., SEC Network+)
Duke @ #6 Stanford (3 p.m., ABC)
#8 UConn @ Minnesota (5 p.m., FS1)

Folks, a few more upsets today and this season’s bloodletting will be reaching levels not seen since the pharaonic reign of Ramses II. (Editor’s note: We get it, you went to Duke.)

Stay safe out there, y’all.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.