Basketball season continues to draw closer, and the Associated Press has released its preseason Top 25 polls for both men and women.
South Carolina’s women, the defending national champions, are tabbed fourth behind UConn (a unanimous choice at No. 1), Texas (the Longhorns’ highest ranking since 2004), and Baylor. Ohio State rounds out the top five. Other ranked SEC teams are Mississippi State (7), Tennessee (14), Missouri (16), and Texas A&M (20).
It’s hardly a surprise that the Huskies are atop the poll once again, and given what the Gamecocks lost from their championship roster, it’s not a slight to see them farther down in the top five. While South Carolina has been a consistent power over the past few years and finally broke through last season, it now needs to prove it can stay at that elite level.
On the men’s side, noted South Carolina tournament victim Duke tops the poll, followed by Michigan State, Arizona, Kansas, and Kentucky. Other SEC teams cracking the rankings are Florida (8) and Texas A&M (25). Again, it’s not surprising the Gamecocks are absent — last year’s Final Four run was admittedly miraculous, and the loss of two stars from that squad means Frank Martin has some coaching up to do. The Gamecocks did, however, receive one vote. That person knows what’s up.
In related news, South Carolina has set the dates to raise banners for each team’s accomplishments. The women’s national championship banner will go up on Nov. 10, the home opener against Alabama State, and the men’s Final Four banner will be unveiled Nov. 13 against Western Michigan, also the home opener. Good stuff.