Top 10 shuffle in women’s AP Top 25 as Stanford and Iowa move up behind No. 1 South Carolina

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley argues a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley argues a call during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Columbia, S.C., Sunday, March 3, 2024. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)

Stanford and Iowa jumped up behind top-ranked South Carolina in The Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll as the top 10 got a shuffle on the eve of conference tournaments and Fairfield cracked the rankings for the first time in school history.

Stanford moved back up to No. 2 after a weekend sweep of Oregon State and Oregon. Iowa knocked off then-No. 2 Ohio State on Sunday behind Caitlin Clark, who became the NCAA Division I scoring leader during the game. The Big Ten champion Buckeyes fell to fourth.

While Iowa has been in the Top 25 all season, Fairfield made its first appearance, coming in at No. 25. The Stags (26-1) have won 24 straight games and are the only team in the country besides undefeated South Carolina with one or fewer losses.

“Its a huge moment. This place is special,” Fairfield coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis said. “One of the major reasons I came here is that it was a program on the brink of being on the national stage. We’ll for sure celebrate it. We talk a lot about a team enjoying the moment and being in the moment. This is a big moment.”

The Gamecocks are in a familiar spot atop the poll after finishing their regular season undefeated for the second consecutive year. Dawn Staley’s squad is the top seed in the SEC Tournament this week.

Southern California was fifth, its highest ranking since 1994 when the team was fourth. Texas dropped three spots to sixth.

UCLA, LSU and UConn were next. N.C. State moved up two places to 10th, passing ACC regular-season champion Virginia Tech, which fell six places to 11th.

MORE ON THE STAGS

Fairfield became the fourth team from the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference to earn a spot in the Top 25, joining Saint Peter’s, LaSalle and Marist, whose last ranking was in 2011.

The Stags, who replaced West Virginia in the poll, have already broken the school record for victories in a season and have two games left in the regular season. Fairfield has 14 true road victories which is tied with Saint Joseph’s for the most in the country.

“I think we knew we’d be pretty good. I use the term a lot, cautiously optimistic. I didn’t imagine what we did to this point,” Thibault-DuDonis said. “We have good senior leadership and a healthy balance of seniors and young guys. We kept learning and growing along the way.”

CONFERENCE WATCH

The Pac-12, which has been the most dominant conference so far this season, has three of the top seven teams 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. All the Power Five conferences have their tournaments this week.

RECOGNIZING THE TIGERS

Jackson State received a vote for the first time in school history on Monday. The Tigers have won 15 consecutive games heading into Monday night’s matchup with Prairie View A&M. The team is 20-6 this season with those losses coming to Kansas State, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Miami, Texas and Central Florida.

“This is truly an honor and it speaks volumes about the support we have gained across the country for Jackson State University women’s basketball,” coach Tomekia Reed said. “It is also a testament of commitment and hard work from my staff, team, and Athletic Director Ashley Robinson. We look forward to making history yearly in our program by doing things that have never been done, but never in a million years did I expect something of this magnitude.”

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