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LSU, which won its first NCAA title last April behind star player Angel Reese, received 35 first-place votes from a 36-member national media panel in the poll released Tuesday. UConn received the highest votes among others. The Huskies have now been ranked No. 2 in the AP Poll for 565 consecutive weeks, tying Tennessee’s state record.
Caitlin Clark and national runner-up Iowa State placed third. It’s the same spot the Hawkeyes held last year in the preseason poll. UCLA and UT round out the top five.
The Tigers finished second in 1977 and third in 2004 and 2005 in the preseason poll, but have not finished first until this year. There is a lot of optimism about LSU as it returns an excellent group, including Reese, along with two talented transfers in Hailey Van Lith and Aneesah Morrow.
“We appreciate the recognition of being the No. 1 ranked team on the season and that’s something we’ll embrace,” LSU coach Kim Mulkey said. “Being ranked doesn’t mean winning championships, but it brings great awareness to our program and our school. We want to be ranked No. 1 at the end of the season.”
The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in the poll in 2005 when they held the No. 1 spot for five weeks.
UConn’s run in the preseason poll began for the 1993-94 season and continued for 30 consecutive years. No. 14 Maryland has the second-longest active streak, having appeared in the poll for 250 consecutive weeks.
UCLA and Utah are in their final year in the Pac-12. The Bruins haven’t been in the top five in a preseason since 1999, when they were fifth. The Utes, who have not taken the preseason poll since 2005, return a team led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Alyssa Bailey.
South Carolina finished sixth, ending a streak of 38 consecutive weeks in which the Gamecocks finished No. 1 in the poll. This is the second-longest stretch behind UConn’s streak of 51 weeks (2008-10). Dawn Staley’s team has been a preseason top-10 team every year since 2014, trailing only UConn’s 30-season streak that began in 1994.
Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Indiana and Notre Dame round out the top 10. This is the first time the Hokies, who reached the Final Four last season, have been in the top 10 before the start of the season.
There are a lot of talented players in the rankings besides Clark, the AP Player of the Year, and UConn’s Reese and Paige Bueckers. Texas guard Rory Harmon has lightning speed, and Tennessee’s Rekia Jackson is a great scorer. Notre Dame guard Olivia Miles is returning from an anterior cruciate ligament injury she suffered in March.
No. 12 Ole Miss is in the preseason poll for the first time since 1995. It is the school’s best ranking since the Rebels finished ninth on Dec. 8, 1992. No. 23 Illinois appears for the first time in the preseason rankings since 1999. USC is back No. 21 into the preseason poll for the first time since 2011 and Colorado earned early recognition for the first time since 2013.
Stanford was ranked 15th in the preseason poll, the school’s lowest mark since 2015 when the Cardinal was 16th. Tara VanDerveer’s team has been in the top 10 in the previous six primary polls.
The Pac-12 has the highest ranked teams (six). No. 24 Washington State joins UCLA, UT, Stanford, Colorado and USC. It is the first time the Cougars have been ranked in the preseason poll.
The SEC, Big Ten and ACC each have five ranked schools. The Big East and Big 12 each have two teams in the poll.
Mark your calendar
The season begins for most teams on Nov. 6 with some huge matchups in the first two weeks, including LSU taking on Colorado and Ohio State taking on USC on opening night in Las Vegas. Notre Dame and South Carolina also play each other that day in Paris.
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