More than one parity gap exists in women's college basketball. Entering play Tuesday, only Baylor, Connecticut and Mississippi State remained unbeaten in conference play among teams in leagues ineligible for these rankings. By contrast, 24 teams that are eligible still haven't suffered a conference setback, even taking into account the far greater number of those teams overall. Let's get to sorting out that glut of mid-major success.
1. Florida Gulf Coast (19-3, 5-0 Atlantic Sun)
The Atlantic Sun looks to be one of the more top heavy conferences in the country this season. Only three of eight teams entered conference play with winning records, and those same three are now the only teams with winning records in conference play. Florida Gulf Coast beat one of those teams, Stetson, by 40 points not so long ago, which suggests the next week and a half is about the only good measure we'll get of the Eagles before the postseason. They play fellow conference unbeaten Jacksonville twice in that stretch, first at home on Saturday and then on the road Feb. 3. Jacksonville was one of only two A-Sun teams to beat FGCU a season ago.
Last week: No. 1
2. South Dakota State (16-4, 5-0 Summit)
As a team, it's a mixed bag of late. South Dakota State took its time to put away some modest competition in recent weeks, yet beat Summit contender Western Illinois by 36 points. But let's not worry too much about that. Let's just enjoy Macy Miller for what the redshirt junior is doing on the basketball court. She scored 31 points in that rout of Western Illinois and averaged 24.5 points in the team's four games since the last rankings. She did that while shooting 56 percent from the field and averaging 7.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists. She has reached at least 20 points in seven of the past 11 games. There isn't a better mid-major player.
Last week: No. 2
3. Green Bay (17-2, 7-1 Horizon)
In its first six games since a surprise loss at Northern Kentucky, Green Bay held opponents in the 20s more often (twice) than it allowed them to score as many as 50 points (once). So it's back to business as usual for the Phoenix. The aforementioned recent shutdown efforts against Milwaukee and Detroit, in addition to holding Horizon contender IUPUI to 34 points last week, means they have held opponents to fewer than 40 points on six occasions this season. That is already as many times as all of 2016-17 -- and last season matched the second-most times a team had done that since Green Bay moved to Division I more than 30 years ago.
Last week: No. 3
4. Belmont (18-3, 8-0 Ohio Valley)
It's starting to feel like luck just isn't on Belmont's side this season. Leading scorer Kylee Smith is back in the lineup after missing six games due to injury. But now Jenny Roy, who leads the team in rebounding and steals, ranks second in assists and nearly had a triple-double in her most recent appearance, has missed the past two games. One of the nation's most efficient offensive teams rolls on nonetheless. Belmont ranks 15th nationally in field goal offense, second among mid-majors, and fourth nationally in assist-to-turnover ratio.
Last week: No. 6
5. Mercer (18-2, 5-0 Southern)
The only mid-major with a better assist-to-turnover ratio than Belmont this season? It's Mercer, which also has a 15-game winning streak that began following a loss against Western Kentucky the day after Thanksgiving. After matching the NCAA single-game record with 12 3-pointers, KeKe Calloway didn't connect from long range in either of the next two games. Not only was that the first time that happened this season, it didn't happen at all last season, either. Not to worry for someone who is still tied for sixth nationally in 3-pointers made this season. Calloway hit five 3-pointers and scored 23 points in Mercer's most recent win against Western Carolina. A massive SoCon game looms Saturday at Chattanooga.
Last week: No. 7
6. Duquesne (16-3, 6-0 Atlantic 10) Chassidy Omogrosso, Duquesne's leading scorer, had a rough day in a big conference road game at George Washington. As the clock ticked down inside a minute to play, Omogrosso had made just 2-of-10 shots from the field and her team was in danger of losing its first A-10 game. But fouled with three seconds to play and the score tied, Omogrosso had a chance to save the day. Except she missed the first free throw. With all of that frustration and all the weariness of 38 minutes on the court, she made the second and secured the win. She scored 23 points in her next game and a career-best 28 points the game after that, shooting 57 percent in the process, but neither was any more valuable than her resilience.
Last week: No. 8
7. Central Michigan (15-3, 7-0 MAC)
This is the second instance this week of a team ranked one spot ahead of a team it lost to earlier in the season. That is awkward. The case for Central Michigan's season-long body of work rests largely on an offense that ranks among national leaders in field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage and points per game, and the more subjective belief that the strength of the MAC this season enhances all of the numbers Presley Hudson, Tinara Moore, Reyna Frost and the rest are accumulating. With fellow MAC division leader Buffalo visiting on Jan. 31, the Chippewas will need all of that offensive efficiency to remain unbeaten.
Last week: No. 9
8. Quinnipiac (15-5, 9-0 MAAC)
Make it nine wins in a row since back-to-back losses in December dropped last year's NCAA tournament revelation perilously close to .500. The Bobcats have the most losses among any of the teams here, but they earned some leeway with the nonconference schedule. And so far they've won more conference games by 30-plus points (three) than by single digits (two). Of many revealing stats about a team that does everything as an ensemble, Quinnipiac trails only Belmont in the percentage of field goals that generate an assist. In fact, Quinnipiac records assists on a greater percentage of its field goals than even that other well-known team from Connecticut.
Last week: NR
9. Rice (14-3, 4-1 Conference USA)
All things considered, winning two out of three from the longest stretch of road games of the season is an acceptable outcome. But losing at FIU, which had five wins all season entering the Jan. 13 encounter was the unlikeliest stumble. The Owls shot poorly from the 3-point line in that game, which highlights how important that shot is to their success. Four teams here hit more 3-pointers per game than Rice -- FGCU, Belmont, Central Michigan and South Dakota State -- but all of them also average considerably more points per game. (And only Central Michigan among ranked mid-majors makes a greater percentage of its 3-point attempts.) Add it up and Rice is arguably more dependent on that shot than any team here.
Last week: No. 4
10. Dayton (14-4, 7-0 Atlantic 10)
Dayton's four losses came against teams that currently have a combined 60-18 record. Only the first loss of the season against Toledo in November was out of reach in the fourth quarter. So a program with a long history in these rankings makes its 2017-18 debut. The Flyers score points in a lot of ways, twice reaching triple digits in January, but 3-point shooting has been instrumental to their A-10 form. Dayton shot just 33.2 percent from long distance out of conference but is hitting 45.8 percent of those shots through seven league games. Surges from Lauren Cannatelli and Jayla Scaife are the primary movers. It doesn't hurt that JaVonna Layfield, eighth nationally in rebounding, has five 3-pointers in conference play after hitting 24 in her first 102 career games.
Last week: NR
Dropped out: Ball State, Duquesne, New Mexico