The Associated Press Top 25 polls were released Monday, and the Connecticut women's basketball team, on the verge of its 100th consecutive win, remained the unanimous No. 1.

Just behind is a team that is somewhat of a stranger to the second spot.


Maryland (25-1, 13-0 Big Ten Conference), whose only defeat this season was a six-point home loss to the Huskies in late December, rose to No. 2 nationally for the first time since January 2007, the season after the Terps' national championship. Then-No. 2 Baylor's 85-79 loss last Monday to Texas cleared the way for Maryland to rise from No. 3.

It is a somewhat surprising distinction given the Terps' recent dominance of the Big Ten. Maryland never has been ranked lower than No. 15 since senior stars Brionna Jones (Aberdeen) and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough stepped onto campus in 2013.

Brionna Jones had 28 points and 15 rebounds, and No. 3 Maryland beat Michigan State 89-72 on Sunday, spoiling coach Suzy Merchant's return to the sideline for

Now, though, the focus turns to next Monday, when the Terps will not only learn how closely the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship Sport Committee's updated top 16 seeds mirror the AP's rankings — Maryland is only No. 9 overall, as of last week — but also possibly offer a rebuttal. In seven days, the Terps face No. 12 Ohio State (22-5, 12-1) in Columbus, their only game this season against their top conference challenger and the only league team to have beaten Maryland in the past three seasons.

The Buckeyes, the preseason No. 7 team, are not considered a top-16 team by the committee, and forward Stephanie Mavunga, the team's second-best player, will be out for the "foreseeable future" with a foot injury. But the Terps cannot be picky.

Maryland is No. 17 overall in the Rating Percentage Index through Sunday's games. The team's schedule is only the 94th strongest nationally, by far the worst of any top-25 team, according to RealTimeRPI.com. The Terps have strong wins over Louisville (No. 13 RPI) and Arizona State (No. 26), but next Monday's game will be just their eighth against an RPI top-50 team.

Freshman point guard Destiny Slocum hasn't been shy in taking the reins for the highly ranked Maryland women's basketball team.

Texas A&M, one spot higher than Maryland in the RPI despite five more losses, has faced eight top-50 teams this season. The major difference: The Aggies have avoided gorging on cupcakes. While the Terps have faced eight opponents with an RPI of 200 or worse, including three under 300, Texas A&M has played just three.

Given the committee's apparent emphases, Maryland could sweep its three remaining regular-season games and take the Big Ten tournament title and still not rise to the No. 2 overall seed. More urgently, the Terps might have to win out if they want to avoid the second-seed line altogether.

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