South Carolina is near-unanimous No. 1 in USA TODAY Sports preseason women’s basketball poll

The preseason USA TODAY Sports women’s college basketball poll is out, and South Carolina will open the year right where it ended last season – at No. 1.

While South Carolina already has one national championship under coach Dawn Staley, this is the first top preseason ranking in program history, getting all but one of the 32 first-place votes from the panel of coaches. The Gamecocks, who swept the SEC regular-season and tournament titles a season ago, were also voted No. 1 in the final rankings when the NCAA tournament was called off in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

South Carolina players celebrate after defeating Mississippi State to win the 2020 SEC women's basketball tournament at Bon Secours Wellness Arena. (Photo: Jeremy Brevard, USA TODAY Sports)

The preseason voting for second was much closer. Stanford will start in the No. 2 position, claiming the remaining first-place vote and finishing eight points ahead of No. 3 Connecticut. With Baylor and Louisville in the next two spots, five different conferences are represented in the top five.

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The power leagues dominate the poll, with the SEC, Pac-12 and Big Ten entering the season with five ranked teams each. The Pac-12 has four in the top 10, however, while No. 11 Maryland heads the Big Ten contingent. The ACC features four ranked squads, with two each from the Big 12 and Big East.

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