The UConn Huskies will head into the 2017-18 women's college basketball season ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason poll for the 12th time in school history.
"Being ranked No. 1 in the AP preseason poll is something we certainly do not take for granted, but I think those are the expectations, internally and externally, as it relates to this program," head coach Geno Auriemma told the AP's Doug Feinberg. "This is an honor and a testament to the hard work of our players, but we all know that what really matters is where you finish the season and not necessarily where you are when the season starts."
You can see the full top 25 below:
- 1. UConn
- 2. Texas
- 3. Baylor
- 4. South Carolina (defending national champions)
- 5. Ohio State
- 6. Notre Dame
- 7. Mississippi State
- 8. UCLA
- 9. Louisville
- 10. Stanford
- 11. Oregon
- 12. Duke
- 13. West Virginia
- 14. Tennessee
- 15. Maryland
- 16. Missouri
- 17. Marquette
- 18. Florida State
- 19. Oregon State
- 20. Texas A&M
- 20. California
- 22. Oklahoma
- 23. South Florida
- 24. Michigan
- 25. DePaul
The No. 2 ranking for the Longhorns is their best since the 2004 season. Texas is loaded, built around the talented quartet of Ariel Atkins, Brooke McCarty, Chasity Patterson and Jatarie White. Baylor is no slouch at No. 3 either, setting up a battle for Big-12 supremacy. The Bears are led by one of the top players in the nation, center Kalani Brown.
And South Carolina will look to defend its national title from a year ago, albeit after losing three starters. In A'ja Wilson, however, the Gamecocks have a player capable of leading them on a deep postseason run once again.
But UConn, as always, is the center of the women's college basketball world.
While the Huskies saw their 111-game winning streak end last season against Mississippi State in the Final Four—and their streak of four consecutive national titles end as well—the team returns four starters and added the highly touted freshman class of Mikayla Coombs, Megan Walker, Andra Espinoza-Hunter and Lexi Gordon.
Add in returning starters and All-American selections in Napheesa Collier, Katie Lou Samuelson and Gabby Williams, along with three-year returning starter Kia Nurse, and it's little surprise the Huskies earned all 32 first-place votes, becoming just the fifth team in women's basketball history to do so in the preseason poll.
It also means Auriemma may have a bit of a challenge on his hands managing the rotation.
"We’re going to have to do a good job of managing how many minutes everybody plays," he said, per Paul Doyle of the Hartford Courant. "That doesn't mean that 10 or nine players are going to play enough minutes to make everybody happy."
As problems go, however, that's a good one to have.