June 22, 2024

South Carolina vaulted to No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll on Monday after a chaotic opening week that saw nine of the top 14 teams in the preseason poll lose, including defending champion and preseason No. 1 LSU.

The Gamecocks, who were sixth in the preseason poll, 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. UConn fell from second to eighth after losing to NC State, which jumped into the poll at No. 14.

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 in the history of the poll, which dates to 1977, when the 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 had impressive wins to start the season, scoring over 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 the feat 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.

CONFERENCE SUPREMECY

The Pac-12 has gone 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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