South Carolina, Iowa are 1-2 in women’s AP Top 25; No. 3 Southern Cal has best ranking in 38 years

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark celebrates as time expires during the overtime win of an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska in the final of the Big Ten women's tournament Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark celebrates as time expires during the overtime win of an NCAA college basketball game against Nebraska in the final of the Big Ten women’s tournament Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Abbie Parr)

Southern California rode a Pac-12 Tournament championship to its best ranking in 38 years.

The Trojans moved up to No. 3 in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll Monday after topping Stanford to win the conference tournament for the first time since 2014, their only other time in the title game. It’s the highest ranking for USC since the final poll of the 1986 season, when the team was also third.

South Carolina remained a unanimous No. 1, receiving all 35 first-place votes from the AP national media panel. The Gamecocks head into the NCAA Tournament undefeated for the second consecutive season after surviving the SEC Tournament semifinals on a last-second 3-pointer by Kamilla Cardoso. The Gamecocks then beat LSU for the title in a game marred by late ejections.

Iowa moved back up to No. 2 after winning the Big Ten Tournament, rallying to beat Nebraska in overtime behind Caitlin Clark. It was the third straight conference tournament title for the Hawkeyes.

Stanford fell two spots to fourth and Texas was fifth. UCLA, Ohio State and LSU followed the Longhorns. ACC Tournament champion Notre Dame climbed five spots to ninth and UConn was 10th.

KEEP WINNING

No. 25 Fairfield, which entered the poll last week for the first time in school history, has the second-longest winning streak in the country at 26 in a row. The Stags capped off a 20-0 regular season in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference, becoming only the eighth school to do that in league history. The Stags play in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament on Wednesday.

Jackson State received a vote in the Top 25 for the second straight week. The Tigers have won 18 straight games and finished off a 18-0 record in the regular season in the SWAC with a win over Mississippi Valley State on Saturday. They open up their league tournament against Prairie View A&M on Wednesday.

MAKING AN IMPRESSION

Nebraska is just outside the Top 25 after its close loss to Iowa, a team it beat during the regular season. The Cornhuskers, who had no votes the previous week, were last ranked in 2022. Nebraska received a few votes a couple of times over the course of this season.

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Pac-12 capped off its run as a conference with three of the top six teams in the poll and six ranked in the Top 25 overall. The ACC is next with five teams. The Big 12 has four and the Big Ten three. The SEC and Big East each have two. The West Coast and Mountain West join the MAAC with one each.

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