South Carolina jumps to No. 1 in women’s AP Top 25 after chaotic week; Colorado crashes top 5
South Carolina had a historic jump to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 after a chaotic opening week in women’s basketball that saw nine of the top 14 teams in the preseason poll lose, including defending national champion and preseason No. 1 LSU.
The Gamecocks weren’t the only teams making history in the season’s first regular-season poll, either. UConn and Colorado did too and it was a milestone poll for the Pac-12 Conference.
South Carolina was sixth in the preseason before vaulting up to the top spot in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll released Monday. No team has made a bigger leap to No. 1 in the history of the poll that dates to 1977.
South Carolina received 23 first place votes from the 36-member national media panel. Iowa was second with the other 13 first-place ballots. UCLA, Utah and Colorado rounded out the first five.
LSU fell to seventh after losing its opener to then-No. 20 Colorado. The Buffaloes now have their best ranking since closing out the 1995 season at No. 2 and made the biggest leap in poll history, moving up 15 spots, according to the website “Across the Timeline.”
UConn fell from second to eighth after losing to N.C. State, which jumped into the poll at No. 14. The Wolfpack’s entrance matched the highest for an unranked team, tying Kansas State in 2003. Despite the loss, the Huskies now have been ranked for 566 consecutive weeks, breaking a tie with Tennessee for the longest streak ever.
“The consistency we’ve had over those 30 years despite how much the game has changed is quite remarkable,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “The magnitude of it doesn’t hit me until someone points it out.”
This was only the second time when the poll’s preseason 1-2 teams did not remain in the top two spots in the first regular-season poll. It also happened at the start of the 1998-99 season: Purdue knocked off No. 1 Tennessee to open the season and vaulted up from five to one the next week. That was the biggest jump to the top spot until South Carolina’s move this week.
The Gamecocks opened the season by scoring more than 100 points in routs of then-No. 10 Notre Dame and then-No. 14 Maryland. The 114-76 win over the Terrapins was the Gamecocks biggest victory over a Top 25 opponent in school history. The Irish fell to 16 and Maryland to 20th.
South Carolina had a run of 38 straight weeks at No. 1 end in the preseason poll. That was the second-longest streak behind UConn’s 51-week run (2008-10).
Stanford climbed to sixth, Virginia Tech is ninth and USC is 10th. This is Southern Cal’s best ranking since the final poll of the 1994 season when the team was seventh. That gave the Pac-12 five teams in the top 10, the first time a conference has done that since the SEC accomplished in the final poll of the 1997 season.
Ole Miss had the biggest fall in the poll this week, dropping from 12 to 23 after losing to Oklahoma. The Sooners entered at No. 25. Mississippi State and Illinois dropped out of the rankings.
The Pac-12 has gone an incredible 28-0 to start the season, which is the most wins without a loss by a Division I conference to begin the year over the last 25 seasons, according to ESPN. The conference, which is changing next year with all but two of its teams joining the ACC, Big 12 or Big Ten, was the last to put three teams in the top five in the same week, doing so on Jan. 6, 2020.
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