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A handful of teams could be new women’s basketball No. 1

NCAA Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-Press Conference

Mar 12, 2020; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; View of a rack of basketballs on the court after the announcement the SEC Conference Tournament was cancelled at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

NEW YORK -- It didn’t take long for there to be a new No. 1 in The Associated Press women’s basketball poll.

With top-ranked South Carolina’s loss to No. 8 N.C. State on Thursday night it opened the door for a new choice in the top spot in the poll when it is released Monday.

Because it’s early in the season, there are a few teams that have a good shot to ascend to the top, including the Wolfpack.

“That was a big win the other night but there’s a lot of teams playing well,” N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. “They don’t give out any trophies in December and we need to keep grinding and keep climbing.”

The Wolfpack ended the Gamecocks’ 29-game winning streak and have the best victory of the season, topping South Carolina on the road. No team has ever made that big a jump to No. 1 in the women’s basketball poll, so history isn’t on their side.

Stanford was No. 2 in the Top 25 the first two weeks and it would be easy to just assume the Cardinal would ascend to the top place. The only knock against them is that they haven’t beaten a ranked opponent yet with easy victories over Cal Poly, UNLV and Washington.

If Stanford does move to No. 1 it would be the second straight season that the team became No. 1 in early December. In 2019, the Cardinal earned their first top ranking since 2012 when No. 1 and No. 2 both lost the week before.

Coach Tara VanDerveer, who moved a victory behind Pat Summitt for the career record, wasn’t too concerned about where the Cardinal would be ranked on Monday.

“Let’s hope we’re playing in March and if we are playing, we can talk about it,” the Hall of Fame coach said.

It would be tough to see No. 3 UConn moving to No. 1 because the Huskies haven’t even started their season yet after being put on pause because of a positive coronavirus test. They will finally start playing games this week.

No. 5 Louisville had an impressive 116-75 win over 20th-ranked DePaul and is 4-0 this season. Coach Jeff Walz is happy with the way his team is playing, but isn’t too worried where the Cardinals end up in the poll this week. Louisville has never been No. 1 in the poll.

“It’s early and not a concern of ours right now where we are,” Walz said. “It’s more so getting in day in and out and it’s the end of the year where it’s really going to matter. There are a lot of games to be played.”