Video: Top 25 girls basketball rankings
See how the nation's elite stack up as the season hits stride in December.
It may be early in the year, but the big games have already begun.
Last week, No. 12 Beaver Dam (Wis.) knocked previous No. 15 Benet (Chicago) out of the Xcellent 25, and among others, Newark of Ohio jumped into the rankings by upsetting previous No. 21 North Central – though calling any outcome an "upset" at this point in the season is somewhat of a stretch.
And there will be no upset when No. 1 Christ the King (Middle Village, N.Y.) and No. 2 St. John's (Washington, D.C.) play Saturday — and the loser will likely not drop very far in the rankings (unless of course they get knocked off by someone else).
Oddly, though, there are few major tournaments this weekend, though the Tournament of Champions in Fort Smith, Ark. will probably determine which Midwest power finds a home in the rankings. Neither co-host Northside nor Kansas power Bishop Miege will be tested by out-of-state competition after this weekend, so if the two meet in the finals, the winner will stake a claim to a spot in the Xcellent 25.
And that's generally the pattern early in the year — the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders, and then when the big Christmas tournaments arrive, the picture really snaps into focus.
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MaxPreps Top 25 national high school girls basketball rankings presented by the Army National Guard
No. 1 and No. 2 in women's college basketball played last weekend, and this Saturday the top two high school teams will face off. The game is in D.C., though, so there's somewhat of a hometown advantage for No. 2 St. John's.
St. John's is hoping to play the role of UConn, which knocked off No. 1 Notre Dame last Sunday, and one advantage will be the fact that D.C.'s top team will have already played four games while Christ the King will have played just one.
Bishop McNamara already passed a big-time test, slipping past previous No. 4 Hamilton Heights 57-54 last week. As a reward, the team gets a week off before starting Washington Catholic Athletic Conference play next Tuesday.
Southeast Raleigh will take some time off before heading to D.C. for the She Got Game Classic. The opponents there will be Riverdale Baptist and Westridge Academy, and neither will be easy outs.
Africentric starta league play — which shouldn't be much of a challenge — but then No. 6 Edison Academy will show up on the schedule Dec. 15.
The season starts Saturday for Edison, but after a few warmups, the serious stuff will begin Dec. 14 against perennial Chicago power Whitney Young, followed by No. 5 Africentric on Dec. 15.
Davidson Day is 6-1, and is Saturday's opponent, but that three-point loss to No. 3 Bishop McNamara could haunt Hamilton Heights the rest of the season.
There's just one game — against 4-1 Tampa Bay Tech — before the trip to the Nike TOC in Arizona, so MCD should be ready to go against some of the nation's top teams.
Long Island Lutheran is playing one of the toughest schedules in the country, and though Saturday's opponent, Paul VI, isn't in the Xcellent 25 right now, it would be no surprise if Azzi Fudd's team wound up there at season's end.
Centennial always seems to be in the Top 10, and this year, the Nevada power looks to be the best team west of the Rockies. The first game isn't until Dec. 11, though.
Riverdale will only venture outside Tennessee one time this season, so games against teams like Stewart's Creek (Dec. 14) will become even more important. This week's game, against Providence Christian Academy, shouldn't be as difficult.
Beaver Dam handled previous No. 15 Benet (Chicago) over the weekend, cementing this ranking — at least until Wisconsin's best travels to Florida after Christmas for the Naples Holiday Classic.
Though the Fort Smith Tournament of Champions is in its 21st year, this is the first time it's the Taco Bell Tournament of Champions — and if Northside takes home the chalupas this weekend, the path will likely run through Kansas power Bishop Miege.
With Troy and Long Beach Poly this week, Mater Dei will face two solid Southern California teams — but the real test won't come until the Nike TOC in mid-December.
Southridge basically has one chance to prove itself on the national scene, and that will come at the Nike TOC in Arizona. Until then, Oregon schools will do their best to sully that perfect record.
Last year, Ryle lost in the quarterfinals of the Kentucky postseason (which includes every team in the state), but this year the Raiders are considered to be the best in the Bluegrass State. And a big win over Hamilton Southeastern now makes us consider Ryle one of the best 16 in the nation.
Windward dropped out of the rankings after losing to Bishop Montgomery by four. But revenge is sweet, and a 17-point win over Bishop Montgomery puts one of SoCal's best teams back in the Xcellent 25.
A five-point win over previous No. 21 North Central moved Newark into the Xcellent 25, but unbeaten New Albany is Saturday's opponent — at New Albany.
St. Frances draws 4-1, and always competitive, Life Center Sunday, and then will return to the D.C. area Dec. 15 to play St. Thomas Aquinas of Floriday.
The first game for St. John-Vianney isn't until Dec. 14, so this ranking is safe until then.
The team immediately above Mansfield Timberview in the rankings has yet to play a game; Mansfield Timberview has played 16. The one loss is to 13-3 Cedar Hill (by one point), but a big win over DeSoto resulted in a jump to No. 21.
Unbeaten Lutheran North is Wednesday's opponent, but Incarnate Word's place in the Xcellent 25 will most likely be determined by its performance in the 'Iolani Classic later this month.
New Hope has already traveled to Texas and Alabama, but even staying home presents pitfalls: Great Bridge Christian Academy, Saturday's opponent, is unbeaten.
Hopkins hammered graduation-depleted archrival Eastview 75-48 over the weekend, and looks to be the class of the Land of the 10,000 Lakes. (Did you know the Los Angeles Lakers carried that name with them when they moved west from Minneapolis in 1960?).
Regis Jesuit beat up on some of the best teams in Northern California this past weekend, while in-state rival Highlands Ranch was winning a tournament in San Diego. Presumably they will meet at some point in Colorado to see which one really belongs in the Xcellent 25.Dropped out:
No. 15 Benet (Chicago), No. 16 St. Francis, No. 18 Millennium, No. 21 North Central