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Michigan women ranked No. 25 in preseason AP college basketball poll

Detroit News staff and wires

The Michigan women’s basketball team will enter the 2020-21 season as a ranked squad.

The Wolverines checked in at No. 25 — the same spot as the men’s basketball team — in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 poll, which was released Tuesday.

Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico brings back four full-time starters, four of the team’s top five scorers and plenty of experience from last season’s 21-win group.

Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico returns an experienced group, led by guard Amy Dilk (1) and forward Naz Hillmon (00).

Highlighting the returning core is junior forward Naz Hillmon, who was unanimous All-Big Ten first team selection after averaging 17.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game, and junior guard Amy Dilk, who averaged 11.6 points and 4.5 assists to earn all-conference second team honors.

Also back are fifth-year senior guard Akienreh Johnson (10.3 points, 6.5 rebounds) and senior forward Hailey Brown (8.9 points, team-best 56 made 3-pointers) as well as key rotation pieces Maddie Nolan, Izabel Varejao, Danielle Rauch and Michelle Sidor.

On top of that, Michigan has added junior Leigha Brown, a transfer from Nebraska, to the roster. Brown, who was granted immediate eligibility, was named the Big Ten's sixth player of the year after leading the Huskers in scoring with 14.4 points per game.

The Wolverines, who have won at least 21 total games and 10 league contests each of the past four seasons under Barnes Arico, were one of five ranked Big Ten teams. The group was led by Maryland at No. 12, followed by Indiana (No. 16), Northwestern (No. 17) and Ohio State (No. 20).

South Carolina received 29 of the 30 first-place votes to earn its first No. 1 ranking in program history. The Gamecocks, who had been second twice in the preseason poll, in 2014 and 2015, finished last season at No. 1 for the first time.

Following the Gamecocks at No. 2 was Stanford, which received the other first-place vote from the national media panel. It’s the Cardinal’s highest ranking in the preseason since the 2009 season when the team also was second.

UConn, Baylor and Louisville round out the top five. It is the 14th consecutive year that the Huskies were ranked in the top five in the preseason.

Conference supremacy 

The Southeastern Conference, Big Ten and Pac-12 each have five teams in the preseason poll. The ACC has four, with the Big East and Big 12 each having two. The Missouri Valley and West Coast Conference each have one program in the Top 25. It’s the first time since 2015 that two mid-major teams were ranked in the preseason poll. It’s also only the second time that Gonzaga has been in the preseason Top 25. The Zags were ranked No. 25 in the first poll in 2013.

AP poll

1. South Carolina, 749 points (last season: 1)

2. Stanford, 698 (7)

3. UConn, 695 (5)

4. Baylor, 663 (3)

5. Louisville, 597 (6)

6. Mississippi State, 589 (9)

7. Arizona, 575 (12)

8. N.C. State, 556 (8)

9. UCLA, 499 (10)

10. Oregon, 472 (2)

11. Kentucky, 464 (16)

12. Maryland, 395 (4)

13. Texas A&M, 383 (18)

14. Arkansas, 354 (24)

15. Iowa State, 284 (NR)

16. Indiana, 278 (20)

17. Northwestern, 275 (11)

18. Oregon State, 240 (14)

19. DePaul, 185 (15)

20. Ohio State, 165 (NR)

21. Gonzaga, 137 (13)

22. Notre Dame, 125 (NR)

23. Syracuse, 120 (NR)

24. Missouri State, 95 (23)

25. Michigan, 65 (NR)

►First-place votes: South Carolina 29, Stanford 1

►Others receiving votes: Texas 24, South Dakota 21, Florida State 12, North Carolina 10, Arizona State 6, Princeton 5, Marquette 4, South Dakota State 3, Boston College 2, South Florida 1, Southern Cal 1, Rutgers 1, Tennessee 1, Duke 1.