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Notre Dame, Baylor, UConn lead way in women’s basketball

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POSTED November 15, 2016 12:32 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) — Top-ranked Notre Dame cruised to an easy win in its opener. The rest of the Top 25 didn’t face much of a challenge either.

That will change Monday night as eight of the top 12 teams in The Associated Press women’s college basketball poll will square off against each other in four tasty early season matchups.

The Irish won their first game by 60 points to remain the top choice in the poll released Monday, the first of the regular season. They received 14 first-place votes from a 33-member national media panel, holding on to their slim four-point lead over Baylor. Notre Dame hosts Fordham in the second round of the Preseason WNIT on Monday night.

The Lady Bears, who garnered 12 first-place ballots, have a much tougher game as they host No. 9 UCLA. Third-ranked UConn visits No. 12 Florida State.

In other games between top teams Monday, No. 4 South Carolina plays seventh-ranked Ohio State and eight-ranked Texas heads to 11th-ranked Stanford.

“There certainly are a lot of great games early on,” UCLA coach Cori Close said in early November at a national media day held at ESPN. “Teams are challenging themselves.”

The Huskies, who have won four straight national championships and 75 consecutive games, host Baylor on Thursday. Geno Auriemma’s team will play six of the other top eight teams in the country over the course of the regular season.

“Somebody said, what are you thinking making that kind of schedule in November?” Auriemma said last month. “Well, I’ve always been one that (doesn’t) want any surprises come March. I want to go into March feeling like we put ourselves through a lot of tests. We’re going to pass some and we’re going to fail some. How do you get tough? Sometimes you have to fail.”

Not many ranked teams failed in opening weekend as they went 28-1, with the loss coming when No. 19 Kentucky beat 14th-ranked Miami. The Wildcats moved up to 15 while the Hurricanes fell to 22.

Throw that game out, and Top 25 teams won by an average of nearly 37 points.

The poll and the voters selections can be found online at: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/womens-ap-top-25-week-2

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