California

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36.4885198674
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-119.701379437
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

For many great athletes, training starts at a young age. They dedicate their lives to a sport and reap the benefits as they get older.

Junior second baseman Stephanie Ceo attributes her success to her early start in softball and to her family’s long history with the sport.

Stephanie has three older sisters — Britney, Natalie and Courtney — who all played softball growing up. Her parents, Brad and Kim, played baseball and softball growing up and are still involved with it today. The Ceos work with an 18-and-under program in their home state of California to help softball players make it to the collegiate level.

Stephanie said she never felt too much pressure to continue the family tradition. In fact, she said being coached by her parents and watching her sisters helped her get more prepared than the average freshman to play at the next level.

“Sometimes, when freshmen come in, they’re not prepared for the mental side of the game, whereas I came into college, and I was ready to start playing from the beginning,” Stephanie said. “[My family] helped me with my skills of course — but mentally, they prepared me so well to come into collegiate softball and make a difference.”

As a self-proclaimed visual learner, Stephanie said being the youngest sister helped her grown. She said she learned a lot from watching her sisters play and formed some of her own game around her sisters’ struggles and strengths.

“It was always a big motivator to be as good or better than they were,” Stephanie said. “Sometimes, sibling rivalry can become kind of a burden more than something that progresses you, but, in our family, it was always more that we wanted the best for each other.”

Her efficiency at the plate is one of the things her family helped her develop.

Stephanie’s father served as the hitting coach for Sierra College in 2012 when the Wolverines broke every California junior college hitting record. Her older sister Courtney was a standout hitter for the Oregon program from 2011 to 2014 and finished her career as the leader in three offensive categories.

Stephanie currently boasts a .311 batting average and is three RBIs away from reaching 50 in her career. As Texas faces Texas Tech in Lubbock this weekend for a Big 12 Conference series, Stephanie’s .483 road-game batting average will be a nice weapon.

Although the win-loss record in this matchup is swayed heavily in Texas’ favor, Stephanie and head coach Connie Clark are expecting a fight from the Red Raiders.

“We’ve played well on the road this year, but playing in Lubbock is always a challenge,” Clark said. “We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

The Longhorns (31–12, 6–3 Big 12) are entering this series with momentum from a crucial three-game sweep of Iowa State. Texas Tech (21–24, 5–7) is riding a four-game win streak after a conference sweep of their own over Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders will look to their leading hitter, junior Jordan Bettiol (.389), to spark their chances defeating Texas.

First pitch of the series is set for 6 p.m. on Friday.

The University and state government have not seen eye to eye on many issues, but one thing they can agree on is that UT needs to be ranked higher nationally.  

President William Powers Jr. has said that it is his goal to make UT the best public university in the nation, while Gov. Greg Abbott wants to have five public universities in Texas ranked in the top 10 nationally, according to U.S. News and World Report. Both are ambitious goals, but the question is, how do we accomplish them?  

Currently, UT is ranked 17th among public universities, while only five Texas public universities are even ranked at all.

To analyze what has to be done to increase the ranking for UT and the other public universities in Texas, I am comparing the University of California, Berkeley (the top ranked public university) with UT on the factors that U.S. News and World Report uses in its ranking.  

The University will likely argue that money is the biggest factor and that it needs more because the state only provides 14 percent of the University’s budget, down from 52 percent in 1981.  

However, UC Berkeley only receives 12 percent of its budget from the state. For some of the other factors, there isn’t much a university can do, such as counselor ratings and peer assessments. However, factors such as student retention and selectivity seem to be easier to address.  

Student selectivity is related to student retention, because the better the quality of the students admitted, the less likely they are to drop out, transfer or take longer to graduate. The correlation is strong, with higher-ranked universities having students with higher SAT/ACT scores as well as a better retention rate.  

In other words, the answer sounds simple: Just admit better students.  

However, to do this, we must have a meritocracy instead of institutional discrimination.  

Right now, 75 percent of UT’s freshman class is reserved for those in the top 7 percent of their high school, while race is used as a factor in deciding whom to admit into the remaining 25 percent. Both are racist, discriminatory and are keeping UT and other public universities in Texas from moving up in rankings.  

What was originally the top 10 percent rule was promulgated after affirmative action was temporarily declared unconstitutional in 1996. This rule has harmed education in Texas in more ways than one.  

First, it incentivizes students to transfer to a high school with lower-performing peers so they can graduate higher in their respective classes.  

Second, universities have no control over the SAT/ACT scores of 75 percent of these students that they must admit automatically. Those admitted under the top 7 percent rule have average ACT scores of 28, compared to 30 from those not admitted under the top 7 percent rule.  

Third, this rule is simply unfair to those students who attended more rigorous high schools and have high SAT/ACT scores but couldn’t get into UT nonetheless. Adding insult to injury, public universities in Texas are allowed to discriminate against applicants on the basis of their race all for a vague and very unfair concept called diversity.  

The University argues that diversity is important for education, which is why white and Asian applicants are to be discriminated against for the benefit of black and Hispanic applicants. However, this ignores the fact that universities in California are able to provide better-quality education for its students, all without having to resort to using race in the admission process.  

California banned the use of race in admissions in 1996. Now, the state dominates half the spots in the top 10 list of public universities. The answer is simple, but it isn’t easy. Some lawmakers would rather let our higher education system suffer than do something unpopular with their constituents. 

The concern is that if the top 10 percent rule and affirmative action, respectively, are abolished in Texas, the percentage of Hispanics and blacks will decrease in Texas public universities. But this ignores the plights of the thousands of applicants who have been denied admission since 1996 because of the color of their skin.  We should be admitting students based on their brain and not their skin. Let there be no doubt that discrimination on the basis of race is unconscionable.  

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas stated that arguments of affirmative action’s benefits are the same used by segregationists in the Jim Crow era. Affirmative action was narrowly upheld in the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 5-4 in 2003, but the majority opinion stated that “25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to further the interest approved today,” meaning — if we are to take the words literally — affirmative action should not be used in just 13 more years. This is especially relevant now that the Fisher v. University of Texas case might once again head to the Supreme Court. The question isn’t whether UT will win again, but whether this case will go down in history as another Plessy v. Ferguson (upholding segregation) or as a Brown v. Board of Education (striking down segregation).  

Another question is why continue policies that many believe to be discriminatory and unconstitutional when it isn’t even for the greater good of the state? Why not give up on affirmative action now before it is possibly declared unconstitutional? Why not enact higher education policies that don’t discriminate and will help UT and other Texas public universities become some of the best in the nation? Albert Einstein once said, “What is popular may not be right and what is right may not be popular.”  

It will take real leadership to ban affirmative action and repeal the top 10 percent rule. Courage and backbone in standing up for what is right and best for this state. We can accomplish the goal of making UT the best public university in the nation and put five public universities in Texas in the top 10 nationally, but to do that we must do what is right, not necessarily what is popular. 

Hung is a first-year law student from Brownsville.

Photo Credit: Griffin Smith | Daily Texan Staff

Texas track and field heads to Stanford

Coming off the high of Texas Relays, the track and field team looks to keep the momentum rolling in a trip to Stanford, California, for the Stanford Invitational.

The meet, which begins Friday, will be the second chance for the majority of the team to make their mark on the outdoor season after putting up a solid performance this past weekend in Austin. Junior Morolake Akinosun was named athlete of the meet for her efforts in helping the Texas women pick up three victories.

Junior Katie Burford, who set her personal best in the 1500 meters with a time of 4:34.79 at last year’s Stanford Invitational, looks to improve upon that career best on what is known as a “fast track” by locals.

In outdoor season, it’s always important to keep an eye on local weather, as poor conditions can affect the athletes in a big way. The weather should be ideal out on the California coast as sun and 70-degree temperatures are in the forecast.

Stanford, which won its last national championship in 2000, plays host to the country’s track and field athletes. With head coach Chris Miltenberg at the helm, the Cardinal is ranked 14th in the country on the men’s side and 12th on the women’s.

The Texas men head into the affair ranked fifth in the country, and the women enter ranked third.

Men's tennis begins four-match home stand against Red Raiders

Coming off a 4–1 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma on Sunday, No. 9 Texas will begin its four-match home stand, starting against unranked Texas Tech on Saturday at the Caswell Tennis Center in Austin. All four matches will come against unranked opponents, and the Longhorns will look to improve upon their 15–3 record before the Big 12 Men’s Tennis Championship later this month.

Despite reaching No. 7 in the nation, their highest ITA ranking, on March 24 following their win against UT-Pan American, the Longhorns have struggled lately, narrowly defeating No. 22 Oklahoma State and falling to No. 1 Oklahoma last weekend.

The team’s drop-off in play has been most notable in the singles positions, especially from the Longhorns’ No. 1 singles player, Søren Hess–Olesen. Hess–Olesen reached the No. 1 overall singles ranking in the most recent ITA polls but subsequently lost his next two matches, both in straight sets.

With a top-10 overall ranking in the nation, the Longhorns are still contenders for a Big 12 championship, as well as a national title. In order to contend with the top teams in the nation, Texas looks to get back in the win column starting Saturday.

Junior guard Empress Davenport stuffed the stat sheet in the win over California. Davenport finished with 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

With four players scoring double digits and the Longhorns shooting nearly 48 percent all game, No. 5-seeded Texas hung on in the final minutes to defeat No. 4 seed California, 73–70, on Sunday.

Texas stuck with its experienced lineup in its second-round game in the NCAA Tournament in Berkeley, California. 

Similar to its first round matchup against Western Kentucky, Texas struggled with turnovers early. The Longhorns’ 11 first-half turnovers kept the game close throughout the first half.

Tied at 27 at the break, Texas came out of halftime on a 6–0 run. It led by as many as 12 points in the second half, but California began to cut into its deficit, scoring key field goals and making seven 3-pointers.

“[When we have trouble], we talk about attacking the basket, not standing around the 3-point line and not turning the ball over,” junior guard Empress Davenport said. “That is just a conversation we have between the guards.” 

The team eventually started to limit its turnovers, only giving up the ball three times in the final 20 minutes. The Longhorns shot 50 percent in the final stanza and made 10-of-12 free- throw attempts to capture the victory.

Freshman guard Brooke McCarty played only 17 minutes but hit crucial late free throws, just as she did in the first-round game, to seal the win for Texas. Outside of her strong performance from the charity stripe, McCarty shot 5-of-7 from the field and combined for 16 points with two steals.

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford, who has struggled this season due to injuries, captured her second consecutive double-double performance in this year’s NCAA Tournament with 20 points and 11 boards. After limited playing time during the regular season, she has been a focal point of Texas’ postseason play. 

“This has been a really long season,” McGee-Stafford said. “Coach has brought me along slow and make sure I got my legs back. All of [my] teammates have been really helpful, waiting for me to get everything back and trusting me when I was ready.” 

With a slew of injuries and adversities this season, head coach Karen Aston focused on using her veteran players to help the Longhorns make a deep postseason run in the weeks leading up to the tournament. 

“Because we have experience, we know what to expect when the NCAA Tournament comes,” Davenport said when the seeds were announced. “I think it’s just a feel for the game and when the freshmen and sophomores see us on the court, it just makes them more comfortable.” 

The Longhorns now advance to their first Sweet 16 appearance since the 2003-2004 season, when current Longhorns head coach Karen Aston was then an assistant coach for the team. They play either top-seeded UConn or No. 8 Rutgers on Saturday in Albany, New York. 

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford lays the ball up against Oklahoma. McGee-Stafford finished with 11 points and 10 boards as Texas advances to the Big 12 tournament conference finals.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Selection Monday has come and gone, and the Longhorns are officially going dancing. 

Texas (2210) found out it is the No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament in the Albany Region. The Longhorns will travel to Berkeley, California, to face No.12 Western Kentucky (30–4) in the first round.  

The two-time defending Conference USA champion Hilltoppers held off Southern Mississippi, 6057, on Sunday. 

Western Kentucky has a strong history in the NCAA tournament, having reached the Final Four three times, including a national championship appearance in 1992.

Texas is coming off a 7564 loss in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship final to now five-time champion Baylor. This will be the second-straight NCAA tournament appearance by Texas.

A victory in the opening round for the Longhorns would solidify the most wins the team has had since the 2003–2004 season. That team made a Sweet 16 appearance.

The Albany Region plays host to a slew of teams from Kentucky and the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed, UConn. 

Friday’s opening round matchup between Texas and Western Kentucky is scheduled to tip off at 4 p.m. on ESPN 2. The winner plays either No. 4 California or No. 13 Wichita State on Sunday. 

Junior left fielder Ben Johnson had a career day on Sunday. Johnson went 5-for-5 with two RBIs and raised his batting average to .443 on the season.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Led by junior left fielder Ben Johnson, No. 12 Texas secured a 12–4 win and a series split against Stanford (9–8) on Sunday afternoon in Palo Alto, California.

Johnson hit a perfect 5-for-5 and finished the game with two RBIs.

“Ben has worked really hard at his game. … He’s worked very hard in the weight room,” head coach Augie Garrido said. “I think this is really leading towards a level of confidence … that feeling of confidence he has, it’s almost magical. He got five [base hits] today, which is a pretty good season for a lot of people.”

The Longhorns (10–6) got off to a hot start in the first inning, scoring five runs. Johnson led off the first with a single to center field. After Johnson’s leadoff single, Stanford was able to get two outs, but Texas answered with four straight walks to score two runs.

Redshirt junior designated hitter Taylor Stell smacked a two-run single to extend the Longhorns’ lead to 4–0. The Longhorns capped off the inning with an additional run to push the lead to 5–0.

Texas continued its offensive explosion in the second inning. Sophomore catcher Tres Barrera ripped a ball past the left-field fence for a two-run home run to put the Longhorns up 7–0.

Stanford tried to fight its way back into the game, scoring two runs in the third and sixth innings. The Cardinal got the game to within three, but Texas quelled the Cardinal comeback in the seventh inning with a pair of RBI singles from Johnson and senior right fielder Collin Shaw.

In the ninth inning, sophomore center fielder Zane Gurwitz hit a two-run home run to push the Longhorns’ lead to 11–4. Johnson followed Gurwitz’s homer with a triple and scored on Shaw’s single.

Stanford couldn’t find a way to score in the bottom frame and Longhorns finished the game with a 12–4 win.

While the offense was on display Sunday, sophomore starting pitcher Josh Sawyer (2–2) had a solid outing, allowing two runs on four hits. 

“[Sawyer’s] improved each time he’s been out there,” Garrido said. “He’s got a little perfectionist in him, which is part of what makes him good. He practices right, takes his bullpens and really works at them game-like. He’s an up-and-coming star pitcher for us.”

After dropping the first two games of a four-game series, splitting the series was important for the team’s RPI, Garrido said.

“If you split 50-50, you’re coming out of it with a pretty good score,” Garrido said. “But if you go three losses and one win, it really adds up in the wrong way quickly.”

Texas returns home to play Incarnate Word (7–9) at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The game will air on Longhorn Network. 

Stadium Series provides excitement for fans, players

The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks clashed in an inter-state rivalry game a few weekends ago, and the reigning Stanley Cup Champions emerged victorious with a 2-1 victory over their enemy to the north.

However, the game had a different venue than usual. Rather than the Staples Center in Los Angeles or the SAP Center in San Jose playing host to the matchup, the battle took place at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the home of the San Francisco 49ers.

The temperature during the day in Santa Clara was in the 70s, and the puck-drop temperature was 57 degrees Fahrenheit-- not quite typical hockey weather.

Although not completely commonplace, this is not a particularly new spectacle for the NHL. The most familiar locations for Stadium Series games are cold weather cities such as New York and Chicago. Recently, however, the NHL has experimented with playing regular season games in more temperate climates.

The successes couldn’t be better.

Bringing hockey to hotter outdoor climates is not the only enticing feature of the Stadium Series.  Live intermission performances by California’s own John Fogerty and the Grammy-winning Melissa Etheridge kept fans entertained even when the greatest game on ice was momentarily paused.

The NHL has played 15 outdoor games since the 2003-04 season primarily to engage current fans and to create new ones. Levi’s Stadium filled beyond capacity for this year’s tilt with more than 70,000 people in attendance.

Yet, the memories made at outdoor games are not just owned by the fans. The players that compete in front of these record crowds will certainly never forget their experiences, either.

"It was incredible. From start to finish, what an atmosphere," said Sharks captain Joe Thornton after the game. "It was a once in-a-lifetime-type thing for us.”

Sharks coach Todd McLellan also enjoyed the experience. 

“You talk about moments where the hair stands up on your neck," McLellan said, "and tonight was one of those moments.”

The fact that both teams are tied in the Western Conference standings and are currently battling each other for a playoff birth did not seem to matter that Saturday night. Getting the opportunity to play hockey outdoors in front of a large number of passionate fans is something that even professional players and coaches cannot take for granted.

"The fact we lost was disappointing," McLellan admitted. "But to be part of it, I wouldn't trade it for anything."

Stadium Series provides excitement for fans and players

The Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks clashed in an inter-state rivalry game last weekend, and the reigning Stanley Cup Champions emerged victorious with a 2-1 victory over their enemy to the north.

The game was not played at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, nor was it played at the SAP Center in San Jose.

Rather, the battle took place at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, the home of the San Francisco 49ers.

Indeed, a hockey game was played outdoors in the Californian Bay Area. The temperature during the day in Santa Clara was in the 70s, and the puck-drop temperature was 57 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Although not completely commonplace, this is not a particularly new spectacle for the NHL. The most familiar locations for Stadium Series games are cold weather cities such as New York and Chicago. Recently, however, the NHL has experimented with playing regular season games in more temperate climates.

The successes couldn’t be much greater.

Last year, the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 3-0 at Dodger Stadium. Yes, an ice hockey game was played in Los Angeles, California.

Bringing hockey to hotter outdoor climates is not the only enticing feature of the Stadium Series.  Live intermission performances by California’s own John Fogerty and the Grammy-winning Melissa Etheridge kept fans entertained even when the greatest game on ice was momentarily paused.

The NHL has played 15 outdoor games since 2003 primarily to engage current fans and to create new ones. Levi’s Stadium filled beyond capacity for this year’s tilt with more than 70,000 people in attendance.

Yet, the memories made at outdoor games are not just owned by the fans. The players that compete in front of these record crowds will certainly never forget their experiences, either.

"It was incredible. From start to finish, what an atmosphere," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said after the game. "It was a once in-a-lifetime-type thing for us.”

Sharks coach Todd McLellan also shared his thoughts on the scene. “You talk about moments where the hair stands up on your neck," McLellan said, "and tonight was one of those moments.”

The fact that both teams are tied in the Western Conference standings and are currently battling each other for a playoff berth did not seem to matter Saturday night. Getting the opportunity to play hockey outdoors in front of a large number of passionate fans is something that even professional players and coaches cannot take for granted.

"The fact we lost was disappointing," McLellan admitted. "But to be part of it, I wouldn't trade it for anything."

 

The No. 25 Longhorns started strong during its trip to California this weekend but struggled in their final games to end the weekend with a 2–3 record and a season mark of 9–6.  

On Thursday, Texas compiled upsets against No. 8 Georgia and No. 12 UCLA. The Longhorns handed the Bulldogs its first loss of the season behind a three-hit, complete-game shutout from freshman pitcher Erica Wright.

The game was scoreless until senior right fielder Marlee Gabaldon knocked a double into the right-center field gap to clear the loaded bases in the top of the seventh. Junior third baseman Stephanie Ceo then hit an inside-the-park home run that dropped between Georgia’s right and center fielders to add two more runs.

Two huge defensive plays from junior center fielder Lindsey Stephens kept the Bulldogs off the board late in the game. She fired a bullet in the bottom of the fifth to throw out Georgia senior pinch runner Adele Harrison at home and then made a tough catch in the sixth to strand two Georgia runners.

Against UCLA, sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis threw four innings and gave up just one earned run on three hits while striking out two. Senior pitcher Gabby Smith earned her first save of the season, allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out two in the final three frames of Texas’ 5–3 win.

Junior catcher Erin Shireman, who went 2-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs, led the Longhorns while Stephens went 1-for-2 and scored a pair of runs.

Defensively, Shireman and sophomore left fielder Stephanie Wong made big plays to help preserve the Texas victory. In the bottom of the fifth, Wong made a difficult, back-handed running catch, and Shireman fired a shot from behind the plate to throw out a UCLA runner, keeping the game in Texas’ hands.

However, Friday didn’t go as well for Texas, as a seventh-inning Longhorn rally came up short in an 8–7 loss to Fresno State. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Slatten threw the first four frames, giving up three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. Freshman pitcher Kristen Clark came on in relief and took the loss, giving up the first of four runs in a big fifth inning for the Bulldogs.

Junior first baseman Holly Kern led the Longhorn on offense, going 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs. Stephens knocked a home run as well and Smith, in the game as a designated player, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

On Friday night, Texas lost to No. 18 Missouri, 4–3. Wright pitched the entire game, allowing all four unearned runs and notching just one strikeout. Wong, Stephens and sophomore second baseman Kelli Hanzel each had an RBI. The Longhorns stranded the tying run on third in both games.

Texas closed out its weekend by losing to No. 24 Notre Dame, 5–1, on Saturday. Davis gave up four earned runs on four hits in 3.2 innings and took the loss before handing the game over to Slatten.

Smith accounted for the lone Texas score with an RBI single that scored Hanzel in the bottom of the sixth.

The Longhorns return to action this weekend at McCombs Field for the Texas Invitational.

Junior first baseman Holly Kern played well at the Texas Classic. Kern had 15 RBIs and is batting .367 on the year.
Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Throwing out the first pitch Thursday night in Cathedral City, California, No. 25 Texas softball kicks off its five-game stint in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic against No. 8 Georgia. This marks the third of five straight tournaments in which the Longhorns will compete.

After a 7–3 record to start the year, Texas cracked the USA Today/NFCA polls at No. 25, joining two other Big 12 schools — No. 4 Oklahoma and No. 7 Baylor.

With the success so far, Texas hopes to keep progressing in the upcoming games.

“We’ll just keep rolling into next week,” junior first baseman Holly Kern said after the Longhorns’ 11–4 victory over Colorado State on Sunday. “We are going to see some good teams out in California, so it will be a good challenge.”

Kern posted a stellar performance in the Texas Classic. She recorded 15 RBIs, scored four runs, hit three doubles and added a home run to bring her batting average up to .367.

Swinging strong for the Longhorns, sophomore infielder Kelli Hanzel has hit .545 over the past five games with three RBIs, three runs and two doubles. Sophomore outfielder Stephanie Wong and junior catcher Erin Shireman lead the team with .414 batting averages each. Wong has also already stolen five bases, while Shireman has hit three over the fence.

Delivering all around offensively as a team, the Longhorns bat .338 and have outscored their opponents, 79–42. Texas is tied for the third-best start in program history for the number of home runs hit in the first 10 games of a season, as they have already launched 10.

From the circle, sophomore pitcher Tiarra Davis continues to establish a dominant presence as the primary pitcher. Davis went 3–0 with 15 strikeouts last weekend with a couple of starts, as well as a relief showing. Sophomore pitcher Lauren Slatten has the lowest ERA of the four pitchers, and freshman pitchers Erica Wright and Kristen Clark have each shown sparks of greatness in their early performances. As a team, Texas maintains a 3.17 ERA and has recorded 59 strikeouts, 26 of which Wright has recorded.

After its match against No. 8 Georgia, Texas will play No. 12 UCLA, and, before the tournament ends, it will play two more ranked teams — No. 18 Missouri and No. 24 Notre Dame.