BALLOT BREAKDOWN: UConn still No. 1
Connecticut remained No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll for another week.
The Huskies have won 39 straight games dating to last season’s NCAA tournament run, which ended with the school’s eighth championship.
UConn will try and wrap up the inaugural American Athletic Conference title Monday night when it faces No. 3 Louisville for the second time in seven days. The Huskies beat the Cardinals by 20 last Monday night in Louisville.
Here are five things to know about this week’s poll:
UNBEATEN: Notre Dame became the 13th team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated. The Irish finished the regular season beating Duke in the ACC tournament championship. UConn has a chance to join them with a victory over Louisville.
Only once has two teams entered the NCAAs unbeaten in the same season. In 1998 Tennessee and Liberty both hadn’t lost and were matched up in the first round. The Lady Vols cruised to an easy victory in that game.
The other unbeatens were Texas, Louisiana Tech, Vermont (twice), Baylor and Connecticut five times.
While a lot of people are looking ahead to the possibility of Notre Dame and UConn meeting for the national championship in a matchup of unbeatens, don’t count Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw among them. She promised that there’s no way her team will look too far ahead.
”I don’t think they’ll put us against each other in the first round,” McGraw deadpanned, ”so I think we’ll be pretty focused on our opponent – whoever that turns out to be.”
THE WAY IT USED TO BE: The Big East of old is laying claim to conference championships across the country. West Virginia earned a share of the Big 12 regular season title and Notre Dame won the ACC championship. Connecticut’s a victory away from the AAC championship.
Throw in DePaul winning the new Big East and that’s a lot of titles.
Four of the top five teams in the poll were in the Big East in 2011.
”It just goes to show how good the Big East conference was,” UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. ”It’s sad to see what happened to it, but the decisions that were made had nothing to do with basketball.”
UNCHARTED TERRITORY: West Virginia moved up to No. 5 in the poll for its best ranking. The Mountaineers were sixth for four weeks in 2010-11. West Virginia faces No. 7 Baylor on Monday night for the Big 12 tournament title.
”I am proud of the way this team has fought all season,” coach Mike Carey said. ”I told them earlier this season, respect is earned, and I feel like this ranking shows we are earning some respect with where we are now. I don’t pay too much attention to these rankings because no matter where we’re ranked, teams are not going to back down and we still have to work hard to win games.”
TOP SEEDS: The NCAA selection committee should have no problem figuring out the top two No. 1 seeds with UConn and Notre Dame. The other two spots are a little more open with Tennessee, Stanford, South Carolina, Baylor, West Virginia and Louisville all in the mix. Then again with Stanford and Louisville hosting being a No. 1 or No. 2 shouldn’t make a huge difference since they know where they will be playing in the regional.
BACK IN THE POLL: Bowling Green earned its first ranking since 2009, entering the poll at No. 25 this week. The Falcons are 27-3 and in the semifinals of the MAC tournament. Bowling Green was ranked for 13 weeks in 2006-07 reaching as high as 16th.
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