FORT WAYNE – Notre Dame and Purdue will enter the women’s college basketball season ranked in both preseason polls.
The Irish are ranked No. 6 and the Boilermakers are No. 18 in the Associated Press Top 25, which came out Friday. Notre Dame is No. 7 and Purdue is No. 23 in the USA Today coaches poll, which came out Wednesday.
The Irish went 35-2 last season and reached the Final Four for the third year in a row.
The Boilermakers went 25-9 and lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament to eventual national runner-up Louisville.
Connecticut received all 36 first-place votes in the AP poll marking the ninth time that the Huskies are the top team in the preseason. Five of those years UConn went on to win the national championship.
I don’t know that being preseason No. 1 necessarily gets you anything except some attention, said Huskies coach Geno Auriemma, whose team is also No. 1 in the coaches poll. But it’s always nice when people want to talk about your players and program. We like that feeling.
UConn has most of its team back from last season’s national championship run led by sophomore Breanna Stewart, who won most outstanding player of the Final Four honors in April.
Connecticut, which also was the preseason No. 1 in 1995, ’99, 2000, ’01, ’03, ’08, ’09, and ’10 opens Nov. 9 against Hartford before facing No. 3 Stanford two days later. The Huskies only trail Tennessee’s 12 appearances at No. 1 in the preseason poll.
Duke was second in the poll – it’s best ranking since the Blue Devils finished at No. 1 in the final poll of 2007. They haven’t been this highly ranked in the preseason since they were No. 1 in the 2005 opening poll.
Stanford was third followed by Tennessee and Louisville.
The Cardinals, who were also No. 5 in 2009, return four starters from last season’s team that shocked the women’s basketball landscape by knocking off Baylor in the NCAA tournament regional semifinals before falling to UConn in the title game.