South Carolina took the top spot in the Associated Press women's basketball preseason poll, released Tuesday.
The Gamecocks earned 14 of 29 first-place votes from the media panel, just ahead of No. 2 Connecticut, which received 10.
Stanford, the defending national champion, earned the other five first-place votes and is ranked third to begin the season. Maryland and North Carolina State fill out the top five.
South Carolina is the No. 1-ranked team in the preseason for the second straight year. The university last week awarded coach Dawn Staley a seven-year, $22.4 million contract extension. Staley's program has made three of the past six Final Fours and won the national title in 2017.
The Gamecocks will test themselves early and often, with games against NC State in November and Maryland and Stanford in December.
The Big Ten had four teams ranked inside the top 11: two-time defending conference champion Maryland, plus No. 8 Indiana, No. 9 Iowa and No. 11 Michigan.
Baylor is ranked No. 7 as the Lady Bears enter their first season under new coach Nicki Collen, who left the WNBA's Atlanta Dream in May to accept the position. Former Baylor coach Kim Mulkey left for the same role at LSU, which begins the season unranked.
Preseason Top 25:
1. South Carolina
5. NC State
12. Iowa State
14. Oregon State
16. Florida State
17. Ohio State
18. Georgia Tech
19. West Virginia
21. South Florida
23. Texas AM
24. Virginia Tech
--Field Level Media