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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | October 30, 2019

How the AP preseason poll predicts success in women's basketball regular season

Will this be the year for Oregon women's basketball?

The AP poll has been ranking women's college basketball teams since 1994. But is it actually a good predictor of regular season success?

Turns out the answer is yes. 

We looked at the past 10 years of AP polls to see how well the preseason poll has lined up historically with the final AP poll of the season, and it's pretty close.

More women's basketball history: The winningest teams in Division I history

Since the 2009-10 season, 250 teams have been ranked in the preseason Top 25. Of those, 175 have been ranked in the final Top 25. That 70 percent mark is impressive, and quite a bit higher than the 62.7 percent seen in the men’s college poll.

But the real feat of premonition can be seen at the top. Of the 100 teams that started the season in the Top 10, 97 finished the year ranked, and 73 of those were still in the Top 10.

While 26 different teams have been ranked in the preseason Top 10 during this decade, only two teams have been in it every single year — UConn and Baylor.

Schools with more than 1 preseason Top 10 appearance since 2010
Team Top 10 appearances
UConn 10
Baylor 10
Notre Dame 9
Stanford 8
Louisville 7
Maryland 7
Tennessee 6
South Carolina 5
Duke 5
Ohio State 5
Texas 4
Texas A&M 3
Mississippi State 3
Kentucky 3
Xavier 2
UCLA 2
Oregon State 2

In this timeframe, UConn has never finished worse than No. 3 in the final AP poll, while other than 2010 (when Baylor started No. 8 and finished No. 14), the Bears have never finished worse than 7.

But there have been some outliers. 

In 2010, North Carolina was coming off of a 28-7 season, earning themselves the No. 4 spot in the preseason poll, but the Tar Heels had a disastrous end to the year, losing eight of their final 11 games and falling to unranked in the AP poll by the end of the season.

In 2015, Tennessee had its best season since Pat Summitt retired, going 30-6 and making it to the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament. They started the 2016 season ranked No. 4 in the AP poll, but went 22-14 on the year and were unranked in the final poll.

Texas’s 2015 team was just the first to be ranked in the Top 10 since 2010, earning a No. 9 ranking. The Longhorns started the season on a 13-game winning streak that included wins over No. 6 Stanford, No. 4 Tennessee, and No. 4 Texas A&M, propelling them up to No. 3 in the AP poll by January. And then the trouble started. Starting in January, Texas went 9-9 to close out the regular season, with seven of those losses coming against unranked teams. 

Of course, there’s the flip side to that trend as well. Since 2010, 10 teams have started the season unranked, and finished in the Top 10. 

Year TEAM Preseason AP rank RECORD Final AP rank
2010 Nebraska N/A 30-1 4
2010 West Virginia N/A 28-5 10
2011 DePaul N/A 27-5 9
2012 Delaware N/A 27-1 7
2012 Green Bay N/A 27-1 10
2014 West Virginia N/A 29-3 5
2015 Florida State N/A 29-4 7
2015 Arizona State N/A 27-5 9
2016 UCLA N/A 24-8 10
2017 Duke N/A 27-5 9

So, if your team is ranked in the Top 10 to start the season, you can rest assured that a solid season is in the cards. But unranked teams, don't despair. That above list is bound to grow.

MORE WBB HISTORY: The winningest coaches in DI women's college basketball history

If you want to take a look at past results yourself, here is a table of every team since 2010 that has started the season ranked, and where they ended up in the final AP poll:

Year TEAM Preseason AP rank Final AP rank
2019 Notre Dame 1 3
2019 UConn 2 2
2019 Oregon 3 7
2019 Baylor 4 1
2019 Louisville 5 5
2019 Mississippi State 6 4
2019 Stanford 7 6
2019 Oregon State 8 11
2019 Maryland 9 9
2019 South Carolina 10 16
2019 Tennessee 11 NR
2019 Texas 11 22
2019 Iowa 13 8
2019 Georgia 14 NR
2019 DePaul 15 NR
2019 Missouri 16 NR
2019 NC State 17 10
2019 Syracuse 18 15
2019 Marquette 19 13
2019 Texas A&M 20 17
2019 Duke 21 NR
2019 South Florida 22 NR
2019 Arizona State 23 23
2019 California 24 NR
2019 Miami 25 19
2018 UConn 1 1
2018 Texas 2 8
2018 Baylor 3 2
2018 South Carolina 4 7
2018 Ohio State 5 10
2018 Notre Dame 6 5
2018 Mississippi State 7 4
2018 UCLA 8 9
2018 Louisville 9 3
2018 Stanford 10 15
2018 Oregon 11 6
2018 Duke 12 20
2018 West Virginia 13 NR
2018 Tennessee 14 12
2018 Maryland 15 17
2018 Missouri 16 16
2018 Marquette 17 NR
2018 Florida State 18 11
2018 Oregon State 19 13
2018 Texas A&M 20 14
2018 California 20 NR
2018 Oklahoma 22 NR
2018 South Florida 23 19
2018 Michigan 24 NR
2018 DePaul 25 NR
2017 Notre Dame 1 3
2017 Baylor 2 2
2017 UConn 3 1
2017 South Carolina 4 4
2017 Louisville 5 13
2017 Maryland 6 5
2017 Ohio State 7 11
2017 Texas 8 14
2017 UCLA 9 15
2017 Mississippi State 10 7
2017 Stanford 11 6
2017 Florida State 12 10
2017 Tennessee 13 NR
2017 Miami 14 16
2017 Syracuse 14 21
2017 Oklahoma 16 22
2017 Washington 17 12
2017 Arizona State 18 NR
2017 Kentucky 19 19
2017 Florida 20 NR
2017 DePaul 21 17
2017 West Virginia 22 NR
2017 Indiana 23 NR
2017 Missouri 24 25
2017 Oregon State 25 8
2016 UConn 1 1
2016 South Carolina 2 3
2016 Notre Dame 3 2
2016 Tennessee 4 NR
2016 Baylor 5 4
2016 Ohio State 6 9
2016 Florida State 7 17
2016 Louisville 8 8
2016 Maryland 9 5
2016 Oregon State 10 6
2016 Mississippi State 11 15
2016 Texas 12 7
2016 Texas A&M 13 19
2016 Duke 14 NR
2016 Arizona State 15 11
2016 Stanford 16 13
2016 Oklahoma 17 24
2016 Kentucky 18 12
2016 Northwestern 19 NR
2016 South Florida 20 21
2016 George Washington 21 NR
2016 North Carolina 22 NR
2016 Syracuse 23 14
2016 Michigan State 24 16
2016 Chattanooga 25 NR
2015 UConn 1 1
2015 South Carolina 2 3
2015 Notre Dame 3 2
2015 Tennessee 4 6
2015 Texas A&M 5 21
2015 Stanford 6 14
2015 Duke 7 16
2015 Baylor 8 5
2015 Texas 9 NR
2015 Maryland 10 4
2015 Kentucky 11 11
2015 Louisville 12 8
2015 North Carolina 13 15
2015 Michigan State 14 NR
2015 California 15 25
2015 Nebraska 16 NR
2015 West Virginia 17 NR
2015 DePaul 18 NR
2015 Iowa 19 18
2015 Oregon State 20 10
2015 Oklahoma St 21 NR
2015 Dayton 22 NR
2015 UCLA 23 NR
2015 Rutgers 24 NR
2015 Syracuse 24 NR
2014 UConn 1 1
2014 Duke 2 9
2014 Stanford 3 6
2014 Tennessee 4 4
2014 Louisville 5 3
2014 Notre Dame 6 2
2014 Kentucky 7 10
2014 Maryland 8 11
2014 California 9 24
2014 Baylor 10 7
2014 Oklahoma 11 NR
2014 North Carolina 12 12
2014 Penn State 13 14
2014 Dayton 14 NR
2014 Lsu 15 NR
2014 Texas A&M 16 15
2014 Nebraska 17 13
2014 Purdue 18 17
2014 Colorado 19 NR
2014 Michigan State 20 20
2014 Oklahoma St 21 21
2014 South Carolina 22 8
2014 Iowa State 23 NR
2014 Georgia 24 NR
2014 Gonzaga 25 18
2013 Baylor 1 1
2013 UConn 2 3
2013 Duke 3 5
2013 Stanford 4 4
2013 Maryland 5 12
2013 Kentucky 6 7
2013 Notre Dame 7 2
2013 Penn State 8 8
2013 Louisville 9 16
2013 Georgia 10 14
2013 Delaware 11 15
2013 Oklahoma 12 NR
2013 California 13 6
2013 St. John's 14 NR
2013 Texas A&M 15 9
2013 Vanderbilt 16 NR
2013 West Virginia 17 NR
2013 Nebraska 18 24
2013 Ohio State 19 NR
2013 Tennessee 20 10
2013 Purdue 21 21
2013 Georgia Tech 22 NR
2013 Oklahoma St 23 NR
2013 Miami 24 NR
2013 DePaul 25 NR
2012 Baylor 1 1
2012 Notre Dame 2 4
2012 Tennessee 3 9
2012 UConn 4 3
2012 Stanford 5 2
2012 Texas A&M 6 22
2012 Miami 7 8
2012 Duke 8 6
2012 Louisville 9 19
2012 Maryland 10 5
2012 Penn State 11 11
2012 Georgia 12 20
2012 Oklahoma 13 NR
2012 Georgetown 14 17
2012 Rutgers 15 23
2012 Purdue 16 13
2012 Kentucky 17 12
2012 DePaul 18 NR
2012 North Carolina 19 NR
2012 Lsu 20 NR
2012 Florida State 21 NR
2012 UCLA 22 NR
2012 USC 23 NR
2012 Ohio State 24 16
2012 Texas Tech 25 NR
2011 UConn 1 1
2011 Baylor 2 3
2011 Stanford 3 2
2011 Tennessee 4 4
2011 Xavier 5 5
2011 Duke 6 6
2011 Ohio State 7 18
2011 Texas A&M 8 8
2011 Kentucky 9 17
2011 Oklahoma 10 21
2011 West Virginia 11 NR
2011 Notre Dame 12 10
2011 Georgetown 13 23
2011 St. John's 14 NR
2011 North Carolina 15 14
2011 UCLA 16 7
2011 Texas 17 NR
2011 Florida State 18 15
2011 Georgia 19 NR
2011 Iowa State 20 NR
2011 Maryland 21 16
2011 Iowa 22 NR
2011 Tcu 23 NR
2011 Vanderbilt 24 NR
2011 Michigan State 25 12
2010 Uconn 1 1
2010 Stanford 2 2
2010 Ohio State 3 8
2010 North Carolina 4 NR
2010 Notre Dame 5 7
2010 Tennessee 6 3
2010 Lsu 7 21
2010 Baylor 8 14
2010 Xavier 9 5
2010 Texas 10 17
2010 Duke 11 6
2010 Virginia 12 NR
2010 Florida State 13 11
2010 Arizona State 14 NR
2010 Texas A&M 15 9
2010 Georgia 16 23
2010 California 17 NR
2010 DePaul 17 NR
2010 Kansas 19 NR
2010 Oklahoma 20 12
2010 Michigan State 21 24
2010 Vanderbilt 22 NR
2010 Louisville 23 NR
2010 Middle Tennessee 24 NR
2010 Mississippi State 25 NR

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