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Stanford replaces South Carolina atop women's AP Top 25

Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer speaks with players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against UNLV, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer speaks with players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against UNLV, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NEW YORK – Coach Tara VanDerveer and Stanford are the new No. 1 in The Associated Press women's basketball poll.

The Cardinal ascended to the top spot Monday after previous No. 1 South Carolina lost at home to then-No. 8 North Carolina State. Stanford received 24 of the 30 first-place votes from a national media panel.

The Cardinal moved up to No. 1 at nearly the same time last year and held on to that spot for three weeks, the team's first appearance there in seven years.

VanDerveer downplayed the significance of her team moving to No. 1 in Week 3 of the season.

“Rankings are important in March," she said. "Let’s hope we’re playing in March.”

Louisville moved up three spots to No. 2 — matching the highest ranking in school history — and received two first-place votes. UConn, which has yet to play a game because the Huskies were on pause due to coronavirus concerns, stayed at No. 3, also receiving two first-place votes.

The Wolfpack, who got the other two first-place ballots, jumped four places to No. 4 after the 54-46 victory over the Gamecocks. South Carolina fell to fifth.

Arizona, Baylor, Oregon, Kentucky and Texas A&M round out the top 10. No. 6 is the highest ranking in Arizona's history.

VanDerveer is poised to make history of her own: With her next victory, she will tie Pat Summitt's all-time record of 1,098 wins. Where and when that might happen, however, is still up in the air.

The Cardinal had to shift their Pac-12 opener over the weekend to Las Vegas due to Santa Clara County’s ban on sporting events and practices for three weeks. They were supposed to play Washington State on Tuesday in Las Vegas, but the Cougars don't have enough scholarship players available due to coronavirus protocols.

The next game listed on the Cardinal’s schedule is Friday against UC Davis at home, then a game at Cal on Sunday.

“The pandemic, the situation we’re in, it really makes you appreciate each game,” VanDerveer said. “Each game is so precious, and we’re so excited to be playing. We’re here in Vegas, we don’t know what our schedule is. We’re working the phones, trying to get games.”

Here are other tidbits from this week's poll.

WELCOME BACK

South Dakota State is ranked for the first time in 11 years, entering the Top 25 at No. 22 after topping then-No. 18 Gonzaga in overtime on Sunday. The Jackrabbits also had a victory over Iowa State when the Cyclones were 15th in the nation. It's the team's first appearance in the poll since 2009. The Jackrabbits will play Kansas State on Thursday. South Dakota State replaced Iowa State, which dropped out.

MOVERS AND SHAKERS

Besides South Carolina's drop, Baylor slid three spots, UCLA fell two places to No. 11 and Mississippi State dropped six positions to 12th after losing to South Florida.

Arkansas climbed three spots to 13th after beating then-No. 4 Baylor and Michigan rose five places to No. 19.

KEEP AN EYE ON

South Florida is just outside the Top 25 after an overtime victory over Mississippi State. The Bulls went from 1 vote last week to 59 this week. Coach Jose Fernandez's team also fell just short to Baylor, losing 67-62.

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 8 Oregon at No. 15 Oregon State. It’s rivalry week in the Pac-12 and the first matchup of these schools is Sunday. The two teams meet again on Feb. 28. These were two of the must-see games the last few years.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/Womenscollegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

It's the second time in two years that Stanford has reached the top position in