South Carolina survived one of its stiffest tests of the season to remain No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll released Monday.
The Gamecocks (27-0) topped Mississippi in overtime on Sunday to win their 33rd consecutive game and secure the top spot in the poll for a 35th consecutive week. That is the third-longest run atop the poll, with UConn (51 weeks) and Louisiana Tech (36) having had longer streaks at No. 1. The Gamecocks broke a tie with UConn for third place.
South Carolina received 27 of the 28 first-place votes from the national media panel. It was the first time this season that the team wasn’t a unanimous choice at No. 1.
Indiana got the other first place vote and stayed second in the poll. The Hoosiers have won 14 consecutive games and are 9-0 against AP Top 25 teams this season – the most wins against ranked opponents of any team in the country. The Hoosiers clinched at least a share of their first Big Ten title since 1983 with Sunday’s win over Purdue.
“It’s nothing against South Carolina, but the Big Ten is incredibly strong this season and Indiana has played a tougher conference schedule,” voter Mitchell Northam said. “While the Gamecocks needed OT to get by Ole Miss, the Hoosiers handily beat ranked teams in Ohio State and Michigan this past week. I wanted to reward them for that. Indiana also has five wins against top 10 teams this season, the most in the country, and hasn’t lost since Grace Berger has been healthy.”
Stanford, UConn and LSU round out the top five teams.
Iowa, which hosts Indiana on Sunday, was No. 6. The Hawkeyes were followed by Maryland, Utah, Virginia Tech and Notre Dame. The Utes dropped four places after falling to then-No. 18 Arizona. The Wildcats moved up four spots to 14th.
Middle Tennessee and Illinois re-entered the poll tied at No. 25. The Blue Raiders and Illini had spent some time in the AP Top 25 before falling out. They replaced USC, which dropped games to Stanford and Cal over the weekend.
The conference has two of the top five teams in South Carolina and LSU, but no other school is ranked. With three polls left in the season, the SEC is in danger of not having at least three teams ranked in the final AP Top 25 for the first time since the 1980-81 season, when the conference had only two.