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    Women's Basketball Takes Over No. 1 Ranking

    FIGHTING IRISH Ruth Riley and the Irish are ranked No. 1 for the first time ever.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Ruth Riley and the Irish are ranked No. 1 for the first time ever.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Jan. 22, 2001

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame women's basketball team, off to its best start ever at 18-0 and the only undefeated team in the country, has moved from third to first in the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls released Monday, marking the first time the Irish have been ranked No. 1 in their 24-year history of varsity women's basketball. Notre Dame becomes the 19th school to hold the No. 1 ranking in the 25-year history of the AP poll. Connecticut fell one spot to second, marking the first time in seven seasons one conference has held the top two spots.

    "Being ranked No. 1 is certainly a thrill and very exciting," says Irish head coach Muffet McGraw, in her 14th season as head coach at Notre Dame and 19th overall. "It is a great reward for the team for all the hard work them have put in, but women's basketball season doesn't end until April 1, so we aren't focusing on the No. 1 ranking."

    The Irish entered the season with their highest-ever preseason rankings at sixth in the AP poll and fifth in the ESPN/USA Today before moving up to fourth in both polls on Nov. 27. Two weeks later on Dec. 11, Notre Dame rose from fourth to third in both polls -- at the time its highest ranking in school history. The Irish stood third for six weeks, defeating top-ranked Connecticut 92-76 on Jan. 15, hours after the last week's polls were released.

    The Irish women's basketball team becomes the second Notre Dame team to hold the No. 1 ranking in 2000-01. The Irish women's soccer squad took over the No. 1 ranking on Sept. 18, and held the top spot for 11 weeks, finishing the regular season unbeaten and ranked first with a 20-0-1 record.

    The BIG EAST Conference becomes just the third conference -- joining the Atlantic Coast and Southeastern Conferences -- to boast a pair of No. 1 teams in the same season. Two top-ranked conference teams in the same year had happened in just four previous seasons with Auburn and Tennessee in both '87-88 and '88-89, Maryland and Virginia in '91-92 and Tennessee and Vanderbilt in '92-93. Tennessee and Vanderbilt were ranked first and second, respectively, on Nov. 16, 1993, the last time two conference teams were one-two in the AP poll.

    In addition to the Irish and Huskies holding the top two spots in women's basketball, Georgetown and St. John's were the first BIG EAST men's basketball teams to be ranked first and second. Fifteen years ago both were ranked first during the season and spent a large part of the 1984-85 season holding the top two spots in the polls.

    As has been tradition at Notre Dame since 1974, an eight-foot lighted numeral #1 sign -- designed to be lit anytime a Notre Dame team is ranked first -- will be illuminated atop Grace Hall, a former men's residence hall.

    Notre Dame defeated host Seton Hall 72-47 on Sunday to improve to 18-0 on the season and 7-0 in the BIG EAST in its first outing since the Connecticut game. The 18-game winning streak currently is the longest active streak in the country. The Irish will play their first-ever game as the No. 1 team when they travel to West Virginia for a 7:00 p.m. BIG EAST game on Wed., Jan. 24, at the WVU Coliseum.

    The Women's Top Twenty Five
    By The Associated Press

    The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' women's college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 21, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

                            Record   Pts Pv
     1. Notre Dame (40)      18-0   1,024  3
     2. Connecticut (1)      15-1     978  1
     3. Tennessee            18-1     950  2
     4. Duke                 17-1     883  5
     5. Georgia              16-3     856  4
     6. Purdue               17-3     813  6
     7. Iowa St.             15-1     783  7
     8. Louisiana Tech       15-4     730  8
     9. Texas Tech           15-2     697  9
    10. Florida              15-2     650 10
    11. LSU                  13-5     601 12
    12. Oklahoma             13-4     569 13
    13. SW Missouri St.      13-3     520 14
    14. Rutgers              11-5     440 11
    15. Clemson              15-4     436 20
    16. Vanderbilt           15-3     341 15
    17. Texas                15-5     309 17
    18. Xavier               13-2     308 23
    19. Penn St.             12-6     263 16
    20. Oregon               11-4     245 18
    21. Utah                 16-2     230 24
    22. N.C. State           11-7     105 22
    23. Arizona              14-4      87 19
    24. Villanova            13-4      71  -
    25. Colorado             13-3      57  -
    

    Others receiving votes: Mississippi St. 56, Arkansas 54, Virginia 47, Baylor 46, Wisconsin 25, Alabama 19, St. Mary's, Cal. 16, Stanford 16, Ball St. 11, Indiana 9, Missouri 9, George Washington 8, Illinois 8, Mississippi 8, Washington 8, Drake 7, North Carolina 6, Cincinnati 4, DePaul 4, Auburn 3, Memphis 3, Virginia Tech 3, TCU 2, UAB 2, Wis.-Green Bay 2, Arizona St. 1, Houston 1, Michigan 1.

     

     

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