South Carolina was ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll on Monday after a tumultuous opening week in which nine of the top 14 teams in preseason polls lost, including defending champion and preseason No. 1 LSU.
The Gamecocks, ranked sixth in the preseason poll, received 23 first-place votes from the 36-member media panel. Iowa was second with 13 other first place finishers. UCLA, Utah and Colorado made up the top five.
LSU dropped to seventh after losing its opener to No. 20 in Colorado. The Buffaloes now have their best ranking since finishing the 1995 season at No. 2. Conn dropped from second to eighth after losing to NC State, which entered the No. 14 poll.
Despite the loss, the Huskies are now on the streak for 566 consecutive weeks, breaking a tie with Tennessee for the longest streak.
“The consistency we’ve had over 30 years even though the game has changed so much is amazing,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “The size of it doesn’t hit me until someone points it out.”
It was only the second time in the poll’s history, which began in 1977, that a 1-2 preseason team did not occupy the top two spots in the first poll of the regular season. It also happened at the beginning of the 1998-99 season. Purdue took out No. 1 Tennessee to open the season and moved up from five to one next week. That was the biggest jump until South Carolina this week.
The Gamecocks had an impressive start to the season, scoring over 100 points against the No. 10 Notre Dame and then-No. 14 Maryland. The 114-76 victory over the Terrapins was the Gamecocks’ biggest win over a Top 25 opponent in school history. The Irish fell to 16 and Maryland to 20.
South Carolina had a run of 38 straight weeks finishing No. 1 in the preseason poll. That was the second longest streak behind UConn’s 51-week streak (2008-10).
Stanford moved up to sixth, Virginia Tech ninth and USC 10th. This is Southern Cal’s best ranking since the 1994 postseason poll when the team was ranked seventh. That gave the Pac-12 five teams in the top 10, the first time the conference has done so since the SEC accomplished the feat in the final poll of the 1997 season.
Ole Miss had its biggest drop in the polls this week, dropping from 12th to 23rd after losing to Oklahoma. The Sooners came in at No. 25. Mississippi State and Illinois are out of the rankings.
The Pac-12 went 28-0 to start the season, the most wins without a loss by a Division I conference to start the year in the past 25 seasons, according to ESPN. The conference, which changes next year as all but two of its teams join the ACC, Big 12 or Big Ten, became the last to place three teams in the top five in the same week, doing so on January 6, 2020.