NEW YORK – UConn is in a familiar spot to start the season – No. 1 in the poll.
The Huskies were a unanimous choice in the top spot of The Associated Press women’s basketball preseason poll on Thursday. It’s the 12th time in school history that UConn has been No. 1 in the preseason poll, matching Tennessee for the most all-time.
“Being ranked number one in the AP preseason poll is something we certainly do not take for granted but I think those are the expectations, internally and externally, as it relates to this program,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. “This is an honor and a testament to the hard work of our players, but we all know that what really matters is where you finish the season and not necessarily where you are when the season starts.”
UConn also was the preseason No. 1 in 1995, ’99, 2000, ’01, ’03, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’13, ’14 and ’16. The Huskies open their season on Nov. 12 against No. 10 Stanford in Columbus, Ohio – site of this season’s Final Four. UConn has gone on to win the national championship in seven of those years it was preseason No. 1.
The Huskies, who saw their 111-game winning streak come to an end in the Final Four last season, return four starters from that team and add a stellar freshman class to go along with two solid transfers.
The entire 32-member national media panel picked UConn first, marking the fifth time the team has been the lone choice atop the preseason poll.
Texas is second – the Longhorns’ best ranking since the second poll of the 2004 season. That was also the last year that the Longhorns were ranked second in the preseason Top 25.
“We appreciate the national media recognizing the hard work and dedication of our players and coaching staff in recent years to return our program back to a place where we have the expectation to compete for championships,” Texas coach Karen Aston said.
Big 12 rival Baylor is third followed by defending national champion South Carolina and Ohio State.
Notre Dame, Mississippi State, UCLA, Louisville and Stanford round out the first 10.
Here are a few other tidbits from the preseason poll:
Zags, Cougars receive votes: Gonzaga and Washington State were among those receiving votes. The Bulldogs, with nine points, are tied at 31st with North Carolina. Washington State, meanwhile, received one point.
Ducks fly together: No. 11 Oregon is ranked in the preseason for the first time since 2000. The Ducks, who made a run to the NCAA regional finals last season, return most of that team.
Going streaking: Tennessee is 14th in the poll and continued its run of being ranked in every preseason poll since missing the first one in 1976.
Tip-ins: No. 17 Marquette earned its first ranking since 2011. … Michigan is 24th and ranked in the preseason poll for the first time since 2001. … Missouri is 16th and has its best ranking since the 1984 preseason poll of 1984 when the Tigers were 11th.
Conference breakdown: The Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 have five teams each in the Top 25. The ACC and Big 12 are next with four teams apiece. The Big Ten has a trio of teams while the American Athletic Conference and Big East each have two squads.
See the full poll: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/ap-womens-basketball-poll-preseason
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Adds details, quotes and background. With AP Photos.
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