Print and Go Back Women's College Basketball [Print without images]

Monday, December 26, 2005
ACC replaces SEC as top conference in AP poll

Associated Press

Tennessee is still the top team, but the ACC has replaced the SEC as the No. 1 league in The Associated Press women's basketball poll.

The Atlantic Coast Conference gained a fifth team on Monday when unbeaten Virginia Tech joined the poll at No. 25. Three of those ACC teams -- No. 2 Duke, No. 5 North Carolina and No. 6 Maryland -- are in the top six.

ACC newcomer Boston College joined last week and is now 24th.

After having five ranked teams last week, the Southeastern Conference lost one when Mississippi dropped out following a loss at Louisiana Tech. The SEC's ranked teams are Tennessee, No. 3 LSU, No. 17 Georgia and No. 21 Vanderbilt.

The Big East and Big Ten also have four teams in the Top 25.

"I think the ACC is an outstanding league this year," said voter Tony Bleill of the News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. "The recruiting classes they've had the last three years are starting to show up on the floor."

Tennessee (10-0) received 34 of 46 first-place votes from a national media panel and had 1,136 points to lead a top nine unchanged after a week in which there were only 28 games involving ranked teams.

Three games had ranked teams playing each other and only two members of last week's Top 25 -- Mississippi and Stanford -- lost to unranked opponents.

Tennessee hammered Princeton 107-39 in its only game, but the Lady Vols lost a player from last season's highly regarded freshman class. Sa'de Wiley-Gatewood, the starting point guard and No. 4 scorer, quit the team and left school.

Duke (9-0) remained a strong No. 2 with 10 first-place votes and 1,108 points -- 52 more than No. 3 LSU (8-0), which had the two remaining first-place votes.

Duke had an easy week, routing Ball State 110-24 and Colorado State 99-52. LSU beat Tulane 89-60 in its only game.

After Baylor at No. 4, it was North Carolina, Maryland, Ohio State, Connecticut and Rutgers. Michigan State climbed one spot to 10th after a 20-point win over then-No. 16 Oklahoma.

No. 11 Arizona State, No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 13 DePaul also moved up one place each. Stanford fell four spots to 14th after splitting its first two Pac-10 games, winning at Washington State and losing at Washington.

Minnesota went from 17th to 15th and was followed by New Mexico, Georgia, Purdue, Texas and Oklahoma.

Vanderbilt, Temple, Utah, Boston College and Virginia Tech held the final five places.

Oklahoma fell four places to 20th after the loss to Michigan State, while Georgia dropped two spots to 17th after losing at Temple in overtime. Temple climbed three places to 22nd and Purdue moved from 21st to 18th after decisive victories over Centenary and Mississippi State.

While Virginia Tech (10-0) has handled every challenge so far, the Hokies did not have an eye-catching victory until beating Texas Tech 69-62 in Mexico last week. And while Texas Tech has struggled this season, the Lady Raiders remain a highly respected program and were a perennial Top-25 team before falling out earlier this month.

"I like Tech quite a bit," said Bleill, who had the Hokies 13th on his ballot and voted Duke No. 1. "I've been a little mystified why they haven't gotten more support in the poll.

"They have all their best players back from last year and they were an NCAA Tournament team. I think clearly they are the sleeper team in that league, even as tough as the ACC is."

Tech's last appearance in the poll had been a three-week run last January.

The Hokies' fast start has helped ACC teams compile a 101-22 nonconference record. Every team in the league is at least three games over .500 except Clemson (6-6).

Mississippi joined the poll last week at No. 24, its first national ranking since 1996. A day later, though, the Lady Rebels shot just 33 percent in an 84-71 loss at Louisiana Tech.

The schedule is much heavier this week and could produce some significant changes in the next poll.

Tennessee has challenging road games against Temple and Notre Dame, while LSU hosts Michigan State. Also, Ohio State plays at Purdue, Stanford travels to Boston College, Texas goes to Rutgers and New Mexico is a home against Oklahoma.