College Sports

South Carolina Tops Women's Basketball Preseason Rankings

South Carolina went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team last year and have been the top team for 20 straight weeks.

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley celebrates with her team.
Eric Gay / AP
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Dawn Staley and South Carolina picked up right where they left off: No. 1 in The Associated Press Top 25 women's basketball poll.

The defending national champion Gamecocks were the unanimous choice of the 30-member national media panel in the preseason poll released Tuesday. It's the third consecutive season South Carolina is the preseason favorite.

“This is where we wanted to be and envisioned for our program,” Staley said. “I got to give it to our players. We constantly get some of the best players in the country. They put us in this position as they work extremely hard. I don’t know if they come in and say i want to be the No. 1 team in the country, but they do say they want to be national champions. This is a step to being a national champion.”

Stanford, Texas, Iowa and Tennessee round out the top five teams in the preseason poll. It is Iowa's best ranking since 1994 when the Hawkeyes were also fourth in midseason.

North Carolina Tops AP Men's Basketball Preseason Rankings

North Carolina Tops AP Men's Basketball Preseason Rankings

The Tar Heels are returning four of five starters after losing to the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA Tournament last season.

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“It makes no difference in March what we're ranked in October, but certainly I want my team to have confidence and be proud of what they've accomplished. Iowa is on the map," coach Lisa Bluder said. "We'll celebrate it and then forgot about it.”

South Carolina went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team last year and have been the top team for 20 straight weeks. Only UConn (four times) and Baylor (once) have had longer streaks at No. 1 since the 1994-95 season when the Top 25 became a writers’ poll.

The Huskies are ranked No. 6, the first time since 2006 that they weren't in the first five in the preseason poll. Louisville, Iowa State, Notre Dame and N.C. State finish off the top 10.

The Big Ten is tops in the nation with six ranked teams. Joining No. 4 Iowa are No. 11 Indiana, No. 14 Ohio State, No. 17 Maryland, No. 22 Nebraska and No. 25 Michigan.

The ACC has five teams in the poll, including three in the top 10. Joining Louisville, Notre Dame and N.C. State are No. 12 North Carolina and No. 13 Virginia Tech.

The Big 12 has four programs ranked, led by No. 3 Texas and No. 8 Iowa State. No. 15 Oklahoma and No. 18 Baylor are also ranked.

The SEC and Pac-12 each have three teams in the poll. No. 16 LSU joins top-ranked South Carolina and No. 5 Tennessee for the SEC. No. 19 Arizona and No. 20 Oregon join No. 2 Stanford for the Pac-12.

No. 21 Creighton and UConn represent the Big East while No. 24 Princeton is the lone school from the Ivy League and No. 23 South Dakota State the only Summit League team in the rankings.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.