The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team doesn’t care that Stanford is ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.
As long as there’s a NCAA tournament to decide a national champion, the Huskies believe polls aren’t worth talking about.
Of course, polls do give fans something to talk about and some UConn fans aren’t happy that the Cardinal moved from No. 4 to the top spot, leaping over the second-ranked Huskies, after their 71-69 win over former-No. 1 Baylor last Friday night in Hawaii.
But as someone who voted in the Associated Press poll for a decade, I can tell you there’s history to this.
In January 2004, No. 4 Duke jumped to No. 1 after beating top-ranked UConn 68-67 in Hartford on Jessica Foley’s 3-point basket at the buzzer.
In November 1998, No. 5 Purdue jumped to No. 1 after beating top-ranked Tennessee 78-68 in West Lafayette, Ind., to end the Lady Vols’ 46-game winning streak. Of note, Purdue edged UConn by one point for the top spot and the Boilersmakers’ stay at No. 1 lasted only one week.
Let the record show Purdue went on to win the 1999 national championship while the Huskies finished off a NCAA three-peat in 2004. So much for being No. 1 in November.
The difference this week, some say, is that Baylor had to play the last 35 minutes of the game without All-America point guard Odyssey Sims, who left with a strained hamstring. But injuries are part of the game and a win is a win. Give Stanford credit.
Baylor will get a chance to prove it’s the best team in the country when it tries to defend its national championship in March and April. Coach Kim Mulkey said last season after beating Notre Dame in the final game that she didn’t care if the Bears had 10 losses as long as they were in New Orleans playing in the Final Four. They won’t lose 10 and a loss in November never ruined anyone.
Anyway, allow me to give you my Top 10 women’s basketball teams. I will try to do this every Monday as the season progresses.
1. Stanford (5-0). Yes, I voted for Purdue in 1998 and Duke in 2004 after they beat the No. 1 team so I’ll stay consistent.
2. UConn (2-0). The Huskies were impressive at Texas A&M.
3. Baylor (4-1). With Sims healthy, the Bears are still the team to beat.
4. Duke (2-0). The Blue Devils’ won’t be challenged until possibly in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge by Michigan Nov. 28.
5. Notre Dame (3-0). Irish play UCLA at Pauley Pavilion Friday. They should not need any Dwight Clay-like heroics.
6. Penn State (3-0). Like UConn, Lady Lions won at Texas A&M but by five.
7. Louisville (4-0). Cardinals at tournament in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
8. Georgia (4-0). Coach Andy Landers picked up his 800th win with the Bulldogs Tuesday.
9. Kentucky (2-1). Still stunned by Baylor’s beating of Wildcats.
10. Maryland (2-1). Which league do Terrapins represent in next week’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge?