South Carolina joined an exclusive group Monday, going wire-to-wire as No. 1 in consecutive years in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll.
The defending national champion Gamecocks (32-0) became the third school to be the top team in the poll for the entire season in back-to-back years, equaling UConn and Louisiana Tech.
The Gamecocks, who are the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, have been atop the poll for 38 straight weeks, which is the second longest run behind UConn’s record 51-week streak (2008-10). Led by Aliyah Boston, the Gamecocks were once again a unanimous choice by the 28-member media panel.
“We have the best player in college basketball that puts our program in a position to be number one in consecutive seasons,” South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said.
Indiana switched places with Iowa in the final poll, moving back up to second after landing its first No. 1 seed in an NCAA tourney. Virginia Tech and Stanford, the other two top seeds, were fourth and fifth in the final Top 25.
UConn, which won the Big East Tournament last week, switched places with Maryland to follow the Cardinal. It’s the first time since 2006 that the Huskies didn’t finish the season in the top five in the poll. They have been in the top 10 in the final poll every year since 1994.
Utah, LSU and Villanova rounded out the top 10 teams.
Louisiana Tech had its 36-week run at No. 1 from 1980-82 while UConn’s was from 2008-10. The Huskies have gone wire-to-wire five other times. Texas (1985-86), Tennessee (1997-98) and Baylor (2011-12) are the only other teams to go one full season at No. 1.
JUMPING BACK IN
Iowa State ran through the Big 12 Tournament, winning three games in three days to re-enter the poll at No. 17.
“These are moments they’re going to remember,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “It’s not just winning. They’ll remember what this environment was like their whole life. We beat a great team, and it was a great three days for us.”
Middle Tennessee fell out of the rankings.
The Pac-12 finished the season with six teams in the Top 25, the most of any conference. The Big Ten was next with five while the ACC had four. The Big 12 and SEC each had three and the Big East two. The Mountain West and the West Coast Conference each had one.
AP March Madness coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-womens-college-basketball-poll and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25