Oregon women are No. 1 for first time in AP basketball poll; Notre Dame is No. 16, DePaul 18th
Notre Dame, coming off two trips to the national championship game, is out of the top 10 for the first time since Jan. 17, 2011.
NEW YORK — When he took over in 2014, Kelly Graves set out to establish Oregon as one of the elite teams in women’s college basketball.
Fresh off their first Final Four appearance, the Ducks are ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll for the first time in school history. Oregon, led by sensational guard Sabrina Ionescu, received 25 of the 28 first-place votes from the national media panel to grab the top spot in the preseason rankings released Wednesday.
“I think it validates our vision that we had going in here,” Graves told the AP. “It validates the hard work from my staff that’s been with me the whole journey. On this stage we had a better opportunity to be in position we now are.”
No. 16 Notre Dame, coming off two trips to the national championship game, is out of the top 10 for the first time since Jan. 17, 2011. Coach Muffet McGraw lost all five starters to the WNBA and two top reserves from last year transferred. It is the team’s worst preseason ranking since the Fighting Irish were also ranked 16th in 2008.
No. 2 Baylor, the defending national champion, received the other three first-place votes. Stanford, Maryland and UConn round out the top five; the Huskies have been ranked in the top five for 239 consecutive weeks, since January 2007.
“That’s nuts,” Graves said of UConn’s streak. “I think I’d be in my mid 70s by the time we reached that.”
No. 6 Texas A&M has its best ranking since the Aggies were fifth on Dec. 29, 2014. Oregon State, South Carolina, Louisville and Mississippi State complete the top 10.
Graves knows no one tends to remember who was ranked first in October. He also feels his team, which was ranked third in the preseason last year, is mature enough to handle the pressures of being No. 1.
“I think it’s really neat and we’re adult enough and smart enough to handle this,” he said. “We’ve kept our heads down and continued to work. Stay humbled and hungry.”
Tennessee isn’t ranked in the preseason for the first time since 1976, ending a 42-year streak. The Lady Vols, who saw their remarkable run of 565 weeks ranked in the poll end in 2016, fell out of the rankings Jan. 14 last season and didn’t return to the Top 25. They changed coaches in the spring, bringing back former star Kellie Harper to coach the team.
AP Top 25
6. Texas A&M
7. Oregon St.
8. South Carolina
10. Mississippi St.
12. Florida St.
14. NC State
16. Notre Dame
17. Michigan St.
20. Arizona St.