Kim O'Reilly, CBS Sports

December is off to an interesting start as once again we were reminded that the 2023-24 women's college basketball season is not for the faint of heart. South Carolina and UCLA have managed to stay on top, but even the Gamecocks have had some games that could've resulted in losses. 

UConn, Tennessee and Stanford all lost on the same day for the first time since 2004 on Sunday. The Huskies' defeat, which came at the hands of Texas, was particularly notable because it marks the earliest they've had three losses in a season since 1980-81. 

Meanwhile, Notre Dame is climbing up the rankings even with a long list of injuries. As for the Iowa Hawkeyes, they keep relying on Caitlin Clark's offensive talent, while also learning that other players need to step up if they want to avoid more upsets.

Tennessee had a week to forget and dropped from the rankings entirely. The Lady Vols are on a three-game losing streak after falling to Notre Dame, Ohio State and, most shockingly, Middle Tennessee on Wednesday.

Here are our latest power rankings for the 2023-24 women's college basketball season.

1. South Carolina (8-0)

The Gamecocks were not as dominant as usual against North Carolina and Duke, but Dawn Staley's squad still remains undefeated. South Carolina held the Tar Heels to 31.3% shooting while Kamilla Cardoso tied a career high 16 rebounds. Cardoso then registered her fifth double-double of the season against Duke. The Gamecocks also had another 100-point showing, their fifth of the season, against Morgan State on Wednesday. South Carolina shot 68.3% from the field and 56.2% from 3-point range in their 104-38 victory over the Bears.

2. UCLA (7-0)

UCLA is another team taking care of business every night. The Bruins only had one game in the past week, and that was an 81-66 win against a talented Arkansas group. Sophomore center Lauren Betts led the UCLA offense in that victory with 20 points on a perfect 9-for-9 from the field, and she added 10 rebounds. On the season, Betts is averaging a team-best 16.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Four other Bruins are averaging double figures, and five are grabbing at least five rebounds per game. As a team, the Bruins average 48.4 boards per contest, making them one of the nation's top six rebounding teams. 

3. NC State (9-0)

The Wolfpack are one of the hottest teams in the nation right now with a resume including ranked victories over UConn and Colorado. This past week, NC State remained unbeaten with wins against Vanderbilt and Illinois Sate. Wes Moore's team is holding opponents to just 55.6 points per game, helping the Wolfpack have one of the top 20 scoring margins in the nation at 24.8. All five NC State starters are averaging at least nine points and four rebounds per game.

4. Colorado (9-1)

The Buffaloes' only loss this season was to NC State, and otherwise they've beaten every opponent by double figures -- including LSU in the season opener. Colorado had 16 turnovers against UT Arlington on Tuesday and shot 33% from the field in the fourth quarter, yet that "off" night still resulted in a 95-74 victory. Senior guard Frida Formann scored 23 points in the win while tying a program record with seven 3-pointers, the second time she's achieved that feat this season. Meanwhile, forward Quay Miller registered a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds while shooting 63.6% from the field.

5. Iowa (9-1)

The Hawkeyes only have one loss this season, but they've have had a few games in which they didn't look their best. Their offense still very much relies on Caitlin Clark, who reached the 3,000-point mark in Wednesday's 67-58 win over Iowa State. However, other players stepping up is the key to Iowa's success, as Kate Martin demonstrated that night. Nobody other than Clark scored in the third quarter, but Martin had a strong performance in the last four minutes of regulation with two scores, a defensive rebound, a steal and two free throws. The game had 12 lead changes, and Iowa State would've likely waked away with the win if Martin hadn't finished strong.

6. USC (7-0)

JuJu Watkins has lifted the Trojans to a whole new level. The freshman has registered at least 30 points in three consecutive games, and she's scored 30-plus points in five out of seven games overall this season. She is the country's second-leading scorer at 27.3 points per game, just behind Iowa's Caitlin Clark. Junior forward Rayah Marshall is another key contributor for USC as she averages a double-double of 14.7 and 9.7 rebounds per game.

7. LSU (8-1)

The Tigers were able to hold down the fort during Angel Reese's four-game absence. It became clear LSU is much deeper than Reese while she was gone, but her return makes them significantly more dangerous. Reese registered 19 points and nine rebounds in a big win over a ranked Virginia Tech team, and she shared the spotlight that night with her teammates. Mikaylah Williams registered 20 points on 60% shooting against the Hokies, while Morrow filled up the stat sheet with 19 points, 12 rebounds, two blocks and three steals. 

8. Texas (10-0)

UConn was going to be Texas' most challenging early-season test, and the Longhorns couldn't have handled it any better. Rori Harmon lifted her team to a 80-68 win with 27 points and 13 rebounds. She was also instrumental in not allowing UConn star Paige Bueckers to find a rhythm. The Longhorns had four players score in double figures, but even more impressive is the fact that they forced 21 turnovers and got 36 points out of the Huskies' mistakes.

9. Notre Dame (7-1)

The Fighting Irish had just eight players available Wednesday against Lafayette after Emma Risch (hip soreness) was added to the injury list -- Jenna Brown, Sonia Citron, Olivia Miles and Cassandre Prosper are also missing. Nevertheless, Notre Dame still enjoyed a dominant 96-42 victory with five players reaching double figures, and star freshman Hannah Hidalgo led the offense with 26 points. The Irish currently find themselves in the top 10 nationally in scoring margin, so just imagine what this team would look like if it were healthy.

10. Stanford (8-1)

The Cardinal got blown out 96-78 by Gonzaga on Sunday, which showed the team just how reliant it is on Cameron Brink. Brink, Stanford's star player, was only on the court for 11 minutes while she battled an apparent illness. Another key forward, Kiki Iriafen, played limited minutes for Stanford because of foul trouble. The Cardinal turned the ball over 16 times, giving Gonzaga 21 points off those mistakes. Stanford has been taking care of business all season aside from the Gonzaga loss, getting ranked wins over teams like Indiana and Florida State, so perhaps it deserves the benefit of the doubt this week.

RankTeamChangePrevious ranking
11Ohio State (7-1)
12Utah (7-1)
13Indiana (7-1)
14Kansas State (8-1)
15UConn (5-3)
16Virginia Tech (6-2)
17Baylor (7-0)
18Louisville (8-1)--18
19Marquette (8-0)
20Florida State (6-2)
21North Carolina (6-3)
22Creighton (6-1)
23Gonzaga (8-2)
24Miami (7-0)
25Washington State (10-1)

First five out:  Mississippi State, Oklahoma, UNLV, Duke, Maryland