Top five remain unchanged in AP Poll; Middle Tennessee jumps in
Connecticut remained No. 1 in The Associated Press' women's basketball poll Monday after two more easy wins.
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Here are five things to know about this week's poll:
UNBEATEN PART II: Undefeated Notre Dame continues its tough road swing with a trip to No. 8 Maryland on Monday night before facing third-ranked Duke on Super Bowl Sunday. The Irish (18-0) also host Virginia Tech on Thursday. The Fighting Irish are off to the second-best start to a season in program history, just five wins short of the 2000-01 team that went 23-0.
BLUE RAIDERS: Quick, who has the fourth-longest active winning streak in women's basketball? Middle Tennessee State does with 16 consecutive victories, matching Iona. The Blue Raiders rode that streak to their first Top 25 appearance since Nov. 16, 2009, entering the poll at No. 25 this week.
"It's something that you want for your program. It's a big positive for your program because everybody wants to be ranked," coach Rick Insell said. "If you are a competitor and concerned about growing the game of basketball, you want to be ranked in the Top 25. It helps your recruiting. It helps your players' psyche. It also puts a target on your back. That's what it all about."
"You want to be looked at as one of the top programs in the country. When you get in the rankings and continuously stay there, then you get the respect that you start working for in the preseason," he said.
They're led by senior Ebony Rowe, who broke the school's 27-year old scoring record on Saturday. She has 2,158 points in her career.
"She's just been a great young lady, a great leader, and a great student-athlete," Insell said. "Very few of those come along. She's very humble."
The Blue Raiders will get to enjoy a few extra days off as their game against Southern Miss scheduled for Wednesday was postponed to Feb. 5 because of the threat of inclement weather. Middle Tennessee visits Tulsa on Saturday.
IT'S A CAROLINA THING: North and South Carolina continue to move up the rankings. The Tar Heels were sixth and the Gamecocks seventh in the poll this week. It's North Carolina's best ranking since Nov. 29, 2009, when the Tar Heels were fourth. South Carolina hasn't been ranked this high since the Gamecocks were also seventh on Jan. 21, 2002.
BACK IN THE TOP 10: Baylor moved back into the Top 10 this week after falling to No. 12 last week. The Lady Bears beat then-No. 8 Oklahoma State in overtime on Sunday. Last week marked the first time since the final poll of the 2009-10 season that Baylor had fallen out of the first 10.
STATUS QUO UP TOP: This was the fourth consecutive week that the first five teams in the poll remained unchanged. That may not last much longer with No. 2 Notre Dame visiting No. 3 Duke on Sunday. Top-ranked UConn hosts No. 5 Louisville the week after.