Fresh off a historic new contract, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley has yet another thing to celebrate: being the preseason No. 1 team in the country.
The Gamecocks were picked narrowly ahead of UConn and defending national champion Stanford in the women's preseason AP Top 25, which was released Tuesday. The new season tips off Nov. 9. South Carolina earned 705 total points and 14 first-place votes, compared to 696 and 10 for UConn.
The sport returns many of the stars who shined on the biggest stage a season ago in the NCAA tournament. South Carolina, which lost in heartbreaking fashion by one point to Stanford in the Final Four, brings back talented forward Aliyah Boston, while UConn returns perhaps the sport’s biggest star in point guard Paige Bueckers. No. 4 Maryland returns all its contributors from a season ago, including star point guard Ashley Owusu.
South Carolina opens its season against No. 5 North Carolina State, which returns most of its rotation from a season ago and adds a pair of highly touted transfers to the mix.
The Big Ten leads the way with three teams ranked in the top 10, with No. 8 Indiana and No. 9 Iowa joining the Terrapins in the top 10. The league has two other ranked teams, with No. 11 Michigan and No. 17 Ohio State also among the nation’s best.
The full women's Top 25 is below:
1. South Carolina
5. NC State
12. Iowa State
14. Oregon State
16. Florida State
17. Ohio State
18. Georgia Tech
19. West Virginia
21. South Florida
23. Texas A&M
24. Virginia Tech
Others receiving votes: Georgia 65, Michigan State 63, Florida Gulf Coast 43, Missouri State 18, South Dakota 13, LSU 10, Arkansas 10, Washington State 9, Oklahoma State 8, Notre Dame 8, DePaul 6, Belmont 5, Oklahoma 3, South Dakota State 1
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