Womhoops Guru

Mel Greenberg covered college and professional women’s basketball for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he worked for 40 plus years. Greenberg pioneered national coverage of the game, including the original Top 25 women's college poll. His knowledge has earned him nicknames such as "The Guru" and "The Godfather," as well as induction into the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in 2007.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Guru's AP Poll History: Narrow Vote For No. 1 Is Behind Two No. 1 Ties

By Mel Greenberg @womhoopsguru

Duke is back, Tennessee is gone ahead, and a narrow margin flips UConn to No. 1 first time this season though Notre Dame did not lose to earn its demotion. The two meet Wednesday night.

These are some of the highlights causing the Guru to write an enhanced AP women’s poll notes column off the database to compliment the poll story news produced Monday by the AP’s Doug Feinberg.

As it turns out, the No. 1 vs. No. 2 showdown Wednesday night in South Bend, Ind., now has Connecticut at the top and Notre Dame dropped to second with a two-point difference in the voting by a national media panel causing the switch as the Huskies impressed with their Sunday win over Texas to go with previous wins over Florida State and Baylor.

It’s the closest vote in some time and first time since 2005 when Tennessee slipped past Duke off an impressive weekend that a switch was made in the voting.

But it is not the closest vote in the history of the poll, though the previous two times it happened when the voting panel was coaches and both came on open ballot situations.

Going into Jan. 29, 1980, Louisiana Tech suffered a loss and fell from the rankings resulting in a first-ever first place tie between Texas and Old Dominion. They might have actually met next but in any event, the Guru believes Texas took a loss and ODU retained the top all alone.

In the preseason vote of 1989-90 Louisiana Tech and Tennessee tied for first, the only other time there has been a deadlock at the top in the 41-year history of the vote.

They met in Knoxville at the outset and Tennessee prevailed to take over first on its lonesome.


Whoa ! Duke Is Back; Woe is Tennessee

Duke’s upset of then-No. 3 South Carolina at home Sunday propelled the Blue Devils back into the rankings after they fell during last season, ending one of the longest rankings runs in AP women’s poll history.

Tennessee’s banishment after four weeks marks the continuation of the downfall of the Lady Vols in later years while Connecticut continues to dominate the rankings.

Near the end of last season the Lady Vols fell and missed the four final rankings, including, for the first time, the final poll, ending a record streak of 565 weeks across three decades.

This will now be the fifth season of the 41 that Tennessee was not in every poll.

The Lady Vols missed the first-ever preseason poll in 1976, entered the next week and stayed until a four-week absence during the 1981-1982 season. Then they returned and stayed until about this time in the 1984-85 season when they were gone nine weeks but came back to launch what became the record run.

All that was under the watch of he legendary Pat Summitt, who passed away last June after a five year battle against Alzheimer’s Disease.

In all, she only missed 14 polls, compiling an appearance record that will take a long time to beat, even as UConn, which didn’t get to Tennessee’s level after being behind 14 years, began to surpass the Lady Vols achievements.

But here’s thing: Those drops occurred when the poll was a Top 20 vote and had not expanded to 25, but if that listing had been in place, then the Tennessee streak would have been much longer.

Following their demise last season, the Lady Vols returned in this year’s preseason vote but lasting just four weeks, the quickest ejection which comes off three Sunday losses at Penn State, Virginia Tech, and at hpme this past weekend getting blasted by Baylor.

This is the 715th week of the poll dating to 1976-77 and Tennessee has now missed just 19 times but the dropouts the last two seasons has delayed them becoming the first to earn 700 rankings.

Furthermore, though Tennessee is way ahead of UConn in appearances since the Huskies didn’t come on the scene until the late 1980s, the Guru believes, and he will show the results, if the formula was applied that was used to produce the all-time football poll in the fall, then UConn would likely be the all-time program.

For one, though Tennessee picks up a point per ranking landing way ahead of UConn by 227, if applying the two-point bonuses over total first place votes – UConn now has done it 204 times – the Huskies pick up 184 points, award five points for No. 1 poll finishes, UConn picks up 40 points, subtotal becomes 224, and then use 10 points for the real national title, and UConn picks up another 40 off 11 titles to nine for Tennessee.


Other Notes

Stanford became the fourth program to reach 500 rankings trailing Tennessee’s 696, Georgia’s 522, and Texas’ 505. UConn has 469 and can hit the total next season.

Mississippi State reached the Top 5 for the first time. Third-ranked Baylor and fourth-ranked Maryland are tied for Top 5 appearances at 115, for 10th place.

Last week it was the SEC, now the ACC has seven teams in the top 25, followed by the PAC-12 (5), the SEC and Big 12 (4 each), the Big 10 (2), the AAC (2), and the Big East (1).

And that’s it for now but more to come.


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