Whether or not they hold the title of defending national champion, the Connecticut Huskies have proven to be the premier women’s basketball program of the past decade. It therefore comes as little surprise that UConn enters the 2017-18 campaign with the No. 1 ranking in the USA TODAY Sports preseason coaches poll.
The Huskies return most key contributors from last season’s Final Four squad, including Napheesha Collier and Katie Lou Samuelson. UConn received 25 of 32 first-place votes.
The remaining seven first-place nods went to defending champion South Carolina, which will enter the season at No. 2 overall. Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley had to say goodbye to a tremendous senior class of 2017 but will once again have national player of the year candidate A’ja Wilson this season.
Several other accomplished programs round out the top five, with Baylor starting out next at No. 3. Mississippi State, the team that snapped UConn’s run in the semifinals last season, opens at No. 4 followed by Notre Dame.