For the first time in school history, coach Jeff Walz has Louisville at No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll.
The Cardinals moved to the top spot on Monday, a day after previous No. 1 Stanford lost to Colorado. Louisville received 20 first-place votes from a 29-member national media panel. Its first game as No. 1 will be against Syracuse on Thursday.
“It really is special,” Walz said. “It’s neat to be able to share with these young women, not only the ones here right now but the players who have played in the past to help build this where it is. It’s not just one team; it’s 14 years of hard work that has put us in this spot.”
Walz said his team would enjoy its No. 1 ranking for a night before getting back to work.
“We’re not head and shoulders above everyone else. We can’t just show up and win ballgames,” he said. “We have to execute. We’ll have to continue to grind it out and now you just got a bigger bull’s-eye on your back.”
North Carolina State received five first-place votes and came in second for the Wolfpack’s best ranking since Dec. 31, 1990. The new top two teams were supposed to have faced off Sunday, but N.C. State had a positive COVID-19 test in the program and hasn’t played a game since Jan. 3.
UConn, South Carolina and Stanford round out the first five teams in the poll. Stanford was one of nine ranked teams to lose last week.
UCLA was sixth, followed by Maryland, Texas A&M, Baylor and Arizona. It was the Lady Bears’ worst ranking since they were ninth on Nov. 27, 2017. They lost to Iowa State on Saturday night, ending a 61-game home winning streak. Baylor hasn’t been out of the top 10 since Dec. 1, 2014.
Iowa State entered the poll at No. 24 while No. 22 Georgia was the other newcomer. It’s the Bulldogs’ first ranking since the 2018-19 season. Texas and Washington State fell out of the poll.
Here are a few other tidbits from the Top 25:
Michigan moved up to No. 11, the Wolverines’ highest ranking ever. They are 10-0 and visit rival Ohio State on Thursday night.
GAME OF THE WEEK
UConn at Tennessee, Thursday. The two rivals will play in Knoxville for the first time since 2006 after the series was renewed last year. UConn coach Geno Auriemma is tied with the late Pat Summitt for the second most victories in women’s basketball history. The Huskies host Butler on Tuesday night.