Voters in the Associated Press Top 25 women’s basketball poll expect the West Virginia Mountaineers to contend for a spot in the NCAA tournament again this season.
In the AP’s preseason poll released Tuesday, Mike Carey’s side checked in at No. 19. That’s two spots lower than where the Mountaineers finished in the final poll of last season.
This marks the first time since 2017 that West Virginia was ranked in the AP’s preseason poll. The Mountaineers climbed as high as No. 9 in the poll that season.
Two squads from the Big 12 ranked ahead of West Virginia in this year’s preseason poll. Baylor – with first-year head coach Nicki Collen – checked in at No. 7. Iowa State, which returns Cheryl Miller Award Winner Ashley Joens, landed at No. 12. Texas rounded out the poll by landing at No. 25.
Additionally, two of West Virginia’s non-conference opponents are also ranked in the preseason poll. The Mountaineers will face No. 13 Kentucky on Dec. 1 in Lexington, and they’ll take on No. 21 South Florida in the Sunshine State on Dec. 20. Also, West Virginia’s Dec. 21 opponent Michigan State received the second-most votes of teams on the outside of the poll.
South Carolina was ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, followed in order by UConn, Stanford, Maryland and N.C. State.
Earlier this month, West Virginia was picked to finish fourth in the Big 12 preseason poll, while Baylor was tabbed to win the league again for the 11th time since 2006. The league’s head coaches vote in that poll.
Three Mountaineers were tabbed earlier this month as preseason All-Big 12 selections in Esmery Martinez, Kari Niblack and KK Deans. Martinez ranked second in the league in rebounding last season, pulling down 11.55 per-game. She also had three games of 21 or more rebounds.
While last year’s leading scorer Kysre Gondrezick moved on to the WNBA – selected fourth overall by the Indiana Fever – West Virginia reloaded its roster with a bevy of transfers. The Mountaineers landed Isis Beh from UNLV, Ari Gray from Xavier, Yemiyah Morris from Mississippi State and Savannah Samuel from Oregon State.
In Carey’s 20th campaign, West Virginia finished last season with a 22-7 record and made the NCAA tournament for the 11th time.