UConn crowned No. 1 in AP women’s basketball poll for first time this season

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STORRS — UConn is back in a familiar spot: No. 1 in the poll.

The female Huskies passed Notre Dame for the top position in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll Monday, barely edging the Irish by two points. The Huskies are coming off a week where they beat Top 25 teams DePaul and Texas. UConn has four victories over Top 25 opponents this season, while Notre Dame has one.

The rivals will face each other on Wednesday in South Bend, Indiana.

The Huskies (7-0) had been second in the poll behind the Irish (8-0) for the the last few weeks after coming into the season at third.

With UConn’s win in the NCAAP championship game in April, the team had won 75 consecutive games, four straight national titles, and had been ranked No. 1 for 24 weeks.

At the start of the 2016-2017 season, UConn coach Geno Auriemma said, “I don’t think we should be No. 1. I don’t think we should be anywhere near the teams that almost went to the Final Four and have everybody back and have all that experience and all that talent. We’ve been in those situations before and we’re not there now. So, wherever they put us, I’m OK.”

The team’s star players graduated in May–going 1, 2, 3 in the WNBA draft–leaving the Huskies with a mostly new roster and just one senior that had been part of the regular rotation–Saniya Chong.

When Notre Dame earned a No. 1 post at the start of this season, it had been 15 years since the last time they were in that position.

UConn garnered 18 first place votes from the 33-member national media panel while the Irish received the other 15. The Huskies’ ascension to No. 1 was bolstered with then-No. 3 South Carolina losing to Duke on Sunday.

Both the Huskies and the Irish remain undefeated, and it’s the first time since 2005 that a team lost its No. 1 ranking without losing a game. That year, second-ranked Tennessee passed Duke after Thanksgiving when the Lady Vols beat Michigan State and Maryland, who were in the top 10 at a Thanksgiving tournament.

The Gamecocks fell to sixth with Baylor, Maryland and Mississippi State all moving up a spot.

Duke came in at No. 21 with South Florida a spot behind them. Virginia Tech entered at No. 25, the Hokies’ first ranking since 2006.