UConn finishes No. 1 in women's AP Top 25 for 16th time

Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, center, dances with his team in celebration of their NCAA college basketball game win in the Big East tournament finals against Marquette at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 8, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Connecticut head coach Geno Auriemma, center, dances with his team in celebration of their NCAA college basketball game win in the Big East tournament finals against Marquette at Mohegan Sun Arena, Monday, March 8, 2021, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

In one of the most unconventional seasons ever, UConn finished in a familiar place — at No. 1 in The Associated Press women's college basketball poll.

It's the 16th time that the Huskies have completed the regular season as the top team in the poll. They received 23 first-place votes on Monday from a national media panel of 30 voters.

UConn paused activities early on in the season due to COVID-19 issues and didn't play its first game until Dec. 12. The team ran through the Big East's regular season and conference tournament finishing at 24-1 and is in line for a No. 1 seed in the women's NCAA Tournament when the field is announced Monday night.

The Huskies were No. 1 for the final five weeks of the season.

While UConn's main goal is to win a 12th national championship, coach Geno Auriemma didn't want to downplay the poll accomplishment, especially with such a young squad led by sensational freshman Paige Bueckers.

“If the season ends and you say 'We're No. 1 in the country,' it should mean something, it means you had a great year," Auriemma said. "To me, any time you lose sight of all that, you’re diminishing your accomplishments a little bit. It can’t just be Final Four or nothing.”

There were five different teams ranked No. 1 this season — the second most in the poll's history. Stanford, which spent six weeks atop the Top 25, finished at No. 2; the Cardinal received five first-place votes.

North Carolina State was No. 3, matching its best final ranking, achieved by the 1978 squad. The Wolfpack received the other two first-place votes. Texas A&M and Baylor rounded out the top five teams.