North Carolina State jumped to No. 4 in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll, its best ranking in 20 years.
The Wolfpack, who moved up three places on Monday, have their highest spot in the AP Top 25 since Jan. 10, 2000, when they were third. N.C. State has a huge game against No. 9 Louisville on Thursday night, when a win would give the Wolfpack a two-game lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“It’s great and I’m happy for the players. They’ve worked extremely hard and made a lot of sacrifices so it’s great for them to garner that recognition,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “But they don’t give out trophies in February. We’ve got to stay focused in the process, one game at a time.”
South Carolina remained No. 1, receiving 27 first-place votes from a 30-person media panel. Baylor stayed No. 2, getting the other three first-place votes. Oregon was a solid third.
UConn, despite suffering its worst home loss in 15 years in a game against the Ducks a week ago, extended its streak of top-five appearances, coming in fifth. The Huskies have been a top-five team for a record 253 consecutive weeks dating to February 2007.
UConn was able to hang on to its top-five ranking because the two teams directly behind it in the poll — Louisville and Stanford — also lost this week. UConn faces South Carolina on Monday night.
Mississippi State, UCLA, Stanford, Louisville and Maryland rounded out the top 10 teams in the poll.
Oregon State dropped two spots to No. 11 after edging Arizona State on a last-second shot on Friday night and then losing to Arizona on Sunday.
Other tidbits from the poll:
BIG TEN SHOWDOWN: No. 17 Iowa will visit 10th-ranked Maryland on Thursday night for a chance to take control of the Big Ten. The two teams are tied atop the conference with two losses each. Maryland has been playing extremely well lately, with nine consecutive wins. The last loss came at Iowa on Jan. 9 — a 66-61 defeat. No. 19 Northwestern also has only two conference losses, with those coming against Iowa and Maryland.
FALLING ZAGS: Gonzaga saw its 21-game winning streak snapped by Saint Mary’s on Saturday. The Zags fell four spots in the poll to 15th. While the team still has a comfortable lead in the West Coast Conference, the loss could hurt its chances of hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
AP Basketball Writer Aaron Beard contributed to this story.