NEW YORK — Notre Dame and UConn remain the top two teams in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll, setting up a 1-vs.-2 matchup on Sunday.
Both teams faced deficits this past week in holiday tournament games before prevailing. The Irish needed to rally from 14 points down to beat No. 9 Oregon State in the Vancouver Showcase championship game to stay No. 1. The Huskies trailed St. John’s early in the fourth quarter at the Paradise Jam before winning by 10.
Oregon, Baylor and Louisville followed Notre Dame and UConn in the poll voted on by a 31-member national media panel Monday.
The top 10 teams remained unchanged, with Mississippi State, Maryland, Stanford, Oregon State and Texas rounding out the group.
There was change at the bottom of the poll, with Iowa State, Drake and Kentucky all entering for the first time this season at Nos. 23, 24 and 25. West Virginia, Missouri and South Florida fell out.
Before the Irish and Huskies meet in South Bend, Indiana, both have games against ranked teams. Notre Dame hosts 14th-ranked Iowa on Thursday while UConn plays No. 16 DePaul at home on Wednesday.
This will be the 58th meeting of the top two teams in the poll, and the No. 1 squad leads 36-21. Three of the last five times it’s happened has been UConn against Notre Dame, and the Huskies have prevailed each time, most recently in 2016.
IOWA PRIDE: Three teams from the state of Iowa were ranked for the first time in 20 years with the entry of Iowa State and Drake. The final poll of 1998 had Drake, led by current Iowa coach Lisa Bluder, at No. 22, the Hawkeyes at No. 23 and Iowa State 24th. Northern Iowa, the only other Division I program in the state, has never been ranked. Drake was ranked for the final five weeks last season, climbing as high as No. 20. Iowa State entered the Top 25 for the first time since Jan. 27, 2014.
MOVING ON UP: Syracuse is ranked 12th this week, the second-best ranking in school history, after winning the Mayan Division of the Cancun Challenge. The Orange beat No. 16 DePaul in overtime at the buzzer when Tiana Mangakahia hit a reverse layup. The Orange moved up two spots in the poll. The team’s best ranking was 11th on Nov. 21, 2016.
A @Tianamanga buzzer-beater in overtime... what more could you want in a top-20 matchup. Recap today's win over #16 DePaul @CancunChallenge ⤵— 'Cuse Women's Hoops (@CuseWBB) November 24, 2018
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FALLING GAMECOCKS: Dawn Staley knew her team was going to be searching for a new identity this season with the graduation of A’ja Wilson. South Carolina is still a work in progress, falling 70-68 to Oregon State and 90-85 in OT to Drake at the Vancouver Showcase. The Gamecocks dropped five spots in the poll to No. 18 — the team’s lowest ranking since Nov. 18, 2013.