WACO, Texas – The Baylor Lady Bears will begin their 2020-21 campaign ranked No. 4 in the nation by the USA Today/WBCA, according to its poll released Thursday.
The preseason nod marks the 304th-straight week that Baylor has been ranked in the coaches’ poll. The last time the Lady Bears were not ranked in the preseason poll came ahead of the 2003-04 season, marking the 17th-straight year to begin the season ranked. Coincidentally, the 2003-04 Lady Bears were the team to start the streak of 304 weeks on the 11th week of that season.
The Lady Bears are still the defending NCAA champions after their win in Tampa in 2019. The 2019-20 NCAA postseason was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Lady Bears were a projected No. 1 seed to attempt to defend their title.
South Carolina checked in with the No. 1 spot, Stanford is ranked second and UConn checked in at third. The Big 12 also had representatives in the preseason Top 25 with Iowa State checking in at 18 and Texas receiving votes.
Thursday’s poll marks the 10th time in program history and the fifth-straight season that Baylor notched a top-five preseason ranking from the WBCA.
Baylor returns honorable mention All-American junior post NaLyssa Smith and reigning National Defensive Player of the Year DiDi Richards to lead the squad. Richards is day-to-day with a nervous system injury, but she is improving since her collision with fellow senior Moon Ursin on Oct. 24.
The Lady Bears have seven players left over from the national championship team in 2019, including junior center Queen Egbo. Egbo was selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 team along with Richards and Smith, while DiJonai Carrington and Sarah Andrews were named Big 12 Preseason Newcomer and Freshman of the Year, respectively.
2020-21 USA Today/WBCA Preseason Top 25
|Rank||School (record)||Points||Last season’s final rank||First-place
|1||South Carolina (32-1)||799||1||31|
|6||North Carolina State (28-4)||601||8||0|
|7||Mississippi State (27-6)||567||10||0|
|13||Texas A&M (22-8)||377||21||0|
|17||Oregon State (23-9)||281||16||0|
|18||Iowa State (18-11)||253||NR||0|
|22||Ohio State (21-12)||135||NR||0|
|23||Notre Dame (13-18)||104||NR||0|
|25||Missouri State (26-4)||76||19||0|
Dropped out: No. 11 South Dakota (30-2); No. 17 Princeton (26-1); No. 20 Florida State (24-8); No. 23 Iowa (23-7); No. 24 Florida Gulf Coast (30-3).
Others receiving votes: Texas (19-11) 72; South Dakota (30-2) 25; Florida State (24-8) 23; Iowa (23-7) 13; Arizona State (20-11) 11; North Carolina (16-14) 11; South Florida (19-13) 9; Middle Tennessee (21-9) 7; Rutgers (22-9) 7; Virginia Tech (21-9) 6; Tennessee (21-10) 4; Brigham Young (18-11) 3; Florida Gulf Coast (30-3) 3; Princeton (26-1) 3; James Madison (25-4) 2; South Dakota State (23-10) 2; LSU (20-10) 1; Tennessee-Martin (22-10) 1.
The USA TODAY Sports Board of Coaches is made up of 32 head coaches at Division I institutions. All are members of the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association. The board for the 2020-21 season: Suzy Barcomb, Seattle; Matt Bollant, Eastern Illinois; Dan Burt, Duquesne; Jackie Carson; Furman; Billi Chambers, Iona; Bill Cleary, Colgate; Shane Clipfell, Western Michigan; Jamie Craighhead, San Jose State; Megan Duffy, Marquette; Ronny Fisher, Campbell; Lisa Fortier, Gonzaga; Freda Freeman-Jackson, Alabama State; Julie Goodenough; Abilene Christian; Carey Green, Liberty; Tamara Inoue, UC Irvine; Monique LeBlanc, Brown; Maria Marchesano, Mount St. Mary’s; Katie Meier, Miami (Fla.); Jalie Mitchell, North Texas; Mike Neighbors, Arkansas; Raegan Pebley, TCU; Kyle Rechlicz, Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Diane Richardson, Towson; Lynne Roberts, Utah; Matt Ruffing, Evansville; Seton Sobolewski, Idaho State; Lisa Stockton, Tulane; C. Vivian Stringer, Rutgers; Amy Vachon, Maine; Larry Vickers, Norfolk State; Jaida Williams, Coastal Carolina; Doshia Woods, Denver.