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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke women's basketball debuts at No. 19 after three-year rankings drought

<p>Duke enters the rankings following a marquee win against then-No.9 Iowa.</p>

Duke enters the rankings following a marquee win against then-No.9 Iowa.

After their first ranked win of the season, the Blue Devils have entered the top 25, and the Blue Zone is here with our thoughts on the latest rankings:

Devils' debut

After receiving votes multiple weeks in a row, Duke is back in the polls for the first time since the preseason of the 2018-19 season. Strong results in their schedule so far, indicated by a top-15 Her Hoop Stats rating, had helped the Blue Devils earn votes for the couple weeks prior, but a 15-point win over then-No. 9 Iowa can leave no doubt: they deserve to be ranked.

Iowa itself fell to No. 12 following the loss, which is plenty understandable given the circumstances. It was its first game in two weeks following COVID protocols for multiple individuals in the program and there were “a lot of staff and a lot of players who were affected,” per its head coach. In addition, Hawkeye point guard and preseason All-American Caitlin Clark had one of her worst days yet. Fair caveats.

Duke’s win was the first unranked-over-top-10 upset in 48 tries this year, but some other unranked teams have knocked ranked squads down a few pegs: South Florida fell from No. 13 to No. 17 after a loss to UT-Arlington; Georgia slid from No. 20 to No. 21 after losing to Georgia Tech; and Oregon and FGCU went unranked after losing to UC Davis and LSU, respectively.

South Carolina looms

At a unanimous No. 1 sits South Carolina, Duke’s next opponent. In nine days, the Blue Devils welcome the Gamecocks, who have beaten No. 2 N.C. State by nine, No. 3 Connecticut by 16, and then-No. 9 Oregon by 17. Their top-level talent and veteran depth are both good enough that they’ve barely had to touch the top freshman class in the country, with the consensus Nos. 3, 8, 11 and 34 recruits in the country ranking eighth, 12th, 14th and 11th in minutes per game, respectively.

ACC on the move

N.C. State is now the undisputed No. 2 team in the country, no longer tied with Connecticut. Louisville is up to No. 7 after what can only be described as a decimation of then-No. 12 Michigan. Notre Dame rose from No. 24 to No. 22 after hanging with the Huskies for much of their Sunday matinee. North Carolina received some more votes, despite relatively uninspiring results the past couple weeks. So did the Yellow Jackets after their upset win.

On the other hand, Florida State fell from No. 25 to Receiving Votes, and Virginia Tech was somehow rewarded after a narrow defeat to now-No. 9 Tennessee—one in which the Hokies blew a seven-point, mid-fourth quarter lead—by receiving even fewer votes this week.

Duke’s conference schedule opens with five of these either ranked or receiving-votes teams in its first six games. The other game is against Syracuse, which just scored 97 points to upset Ohio State and knock it from No. 18 to No. 20.

Complete rankings:

1. South Carolina

2. N.C. State

3. Connecticut

4. Stanford

5. Baylor

6. Arizona

7. Louisville

8. Maryland

9. Tennessee

10. Indiana

11. Texas

12. Iowa

13. Michigan

14. Kentucky

15. Iowa State

16. BYU

17. South Florida

18. Texas A&M

19. Duke

20. Ohio State

21. Georgia

22. Notre Dame

23. Oregon State

24. LSU

25. Colorado

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