Baylor on top of women's poll; Michigan enters

Kim Barnes Arico inherited a talented group when she took over at Michigan this season. Now she's taking the Wolverines to new heights.

Michigan entered The Associated Press women's basketball poll at No. 25 on Monday. It's the Wolverines first Top 25 ranking in a decade.

"Wow, that's really special." Barnes Arico said. "The kids have bought into what we're doing. We have a really great group of seniors that are really experienced."

Baylor remained the top choice for the second straight week, earning 34 first place ballots. The Lady Bears cruised to easy wins over Iowa State and Kansas and now own the longest active conference winning streak, with 32 straight Big 12 victories.

Notre Dame, UConn, Duke and Kentucky round out the first five. The Wildcats switched places with Stanford, which saw its 81-game conference winning streak end with a loss to No. 7 California on Sunday. It's Kentucky's best ranking in nearly 30 years.

Kentucky and Stanford were the only two changes in the first 16 teams in the Top 25. Miami fell out of the poll after losing to both Maryland and Florida State.

Michigan, which was last ranked on Dec. 23, 2002, is 3-0 in Big Ten play for the first time in the history of the program. The Wolverines were coming off a strong season which they won 20 games and earned a trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time in 11 years.

Unlike St. John's, where Barnes Arico built the program up, she knew better than to change much right away at Michigan.

"I came into their program. They had established it, and they had gone to the NCAA tournament, and they had done things," she said. "If I came in and just started saying, 'Heck no, we're doing it this way,' there could have been a revolt."

Michigan's first game as a ranked team will be on Thursday at Northwestern before a showdown with No. 8 Penn State next Monday.

Barnes Arico has been in this position before. She led St. John's to its first ranking in 22 years back in 2006 and the Red Storm turned into one of the better teams in the Big East under her leadership. She's hoping for the same success at Michigan.

"We're going to talk about get ranked. Don't forget how we got here and the hard work it takes to stay," she said. "I'm having them come in and we're going to talk about how to handle it. Make sure we continue to work and not let it go to our heads. We're going to enjoy it too. It's a place that Michigan hasn't been in the last 10 years."

As the wins this season kept piling up, Barnes Arico admitted that her son Trevor had been "bugging" her to see when the Wolverines would get ranked. The last time Michigan was in the poll, he was just four months old.

"He'll be really happy when he comes home from school today," she said laughing.

The top 25 teams in the The Associated Press' women's college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Jan. 6, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last week's ranking:

Record Pts Prv

  1. Baylor (34) 14-1 991 1

  2. Notre Dame (1) 14-1 948 2

  3. UConn (2) 14-1 914 3

  4. Duke (3) 15-0 907 4

  5. Kentucky 15-1 817 6

  6. Stanford 14-2 787 5

  7. California 13-2 755 7

  8. Penn St. 13-2 724 8

  9. Tennessee 13-3 670 9

  10. Maryland 12-3 615 10

  11. North Carolina 17-1 590 11

  12. Purdue 13-2 536 12

  13. Georgia 15-2 519 13

  14. UCLA 13-2 468 14

  15. Louisville 14-3 422 15

  16. Oklahoma 14-2 410 16

  17. Oklahoma St. 12-2 324 21

  18. Dayton 13-1 276 22

  19. South Carolina 14-3 256 18

  20. Texas A&M 13-5 233 20

  21. Colorado 13-2 232 23

  22. Florida St. 13-3 182 18

  23. Kansas 11-4 124 17

  24. Iowa St. 12-2 88 25

  25. Michigan 14-2 86 —

Others receiving votes: Syracuse 39, Vanderbilt 23, Miami 12, Michigan St. 12, Nebraska 12, UTEP 8, Villanova 8, Iowa 5, Delaware 4, Arkansas 2, Creighton 1.

Ballots Online: http://tinyurl.com/43tz39t

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