Connecticut remained No. 1 in The Associated Press’ women’s basketball poll Monday after two more easy victories.
The Huskies have won 29 straight games dating to last season’s NCAA tournament run that brought the school an eighth national championship. Geno Auriemma’s squad will host SMU on Tuesday before No. 4 Louisville visits on Sunday in a rematch of last season’s national championship game. The Cardinals reached their highest ranking ever this week.
Here are five things to know about this week’s poll:
UNBEATEN PART II: Undefeated Notre Dame came through its tough road swing beating Tennessee, Maryland and Duke to remain perfect. The Irish (21-0) are two wins short of the 2000-01 team that went 23-0 en route to the school’s first national championship. Notre Dame plays at Florida State on Thursday before hosting Syracuse on Sunday.
POWER CONFERENCE: There was no doubt that the Atlantic Coast Conference was going to be tough this season with the additions of Notre Dame, Syracuse and Pittsburgh to an already strong women’s basketball group. Still, No. 2 Notre Dame and fifth-ranked Duke lead five teams in the top 14. Maryland is 10th, North Carolina 13 and N.C. State 14. It’s the ninth time since 2001 that a conference has had that many teams in the first 15. The ACC was also the last to do it in 2011. The Big 12 had seven teams ranked in the top 17 in 2002.
MOVING ON UP: North Carolina State rose to No. 14 this week, marking the Wolfpack’s best ranking since Dec. 3, 2001, when they were 10th. Wes Moore’s squad has won five of its past six games. N.C. State plays Wake Forest and Virginia Tech this week. The Wolfpack still have games left against North Carolina, Duke and Notre Dame.
WELCOME BACK: Nebraska and Michigan State re-entered the Top 25 this week after spending a few weeks out of the rankings. The Cornhuskers came in at No. 22 while the Spartans are 24th. Michigan State was in the first four polls of the season before falling out. Nebraska was ranked as high as 10th before falling out last week.
MID MAJOR RESPECT: Gonzaga and Middle Tennessee are holding strong as the only two mid-major teams in the rankings. The Zags are 20th and the Blue Raiders 21st. Middle Tennessee State, which has won 17 straight games, has a busy week ahead at Southern Miss on Wednesday before hosting Rice on Saturday.
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