The West Virginia University women’s basketball team, hot off a Big 12 tournament championship and a journey into the second round of the NCAA tournament, will start the 2017-18 season in the USA Today coaches poll’s top 15.
The Mountaineers were ranked 15th to start the season by a group of Division I coaches, as was announced Thursday. WVU is one of four Big 12 teams ranked in the preseason top 25.
Baylor starts the season at No. 3, while Texas starts at No. 6 and Oklahoma starts at No. 21. The Mountaineers went through all three of those teams to win the 2017 Big 12 tournament. Oklahoma was ranked 19th, Texas 12th and Baylor second during that run.
The Mountaineers, who finished last season at 24-11 and earned a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament, return top scorer Tynice Martin. Martin suffered a foot injury during USA Basketball U-23 national team trials in August but is scheduled for a November return. She set a Big 12 championship game record against Baylor, scoring 32 points.
Martin was named to College Sports Madness’ Preseason All-America fourth team, and to Street & Smith’s Preseason All-America second team. WVU’s No. 15 ranking by the coaches comes on the heels of a No. 9 ranking by Street & Smith’s, a No. 11 ranking by Athlon and No. 14 ranking by Lindy’s.
The Associated Press preseason poll will be announced Nov. 2.
WVU hosts an exhibition at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Coliseum against West Virginia Wesleyan. Admission is free and doors open at 2:30 p.m. The Mountaineers open the regular season hosting Central Connecticut State at 7 p.m. on Nov. 10.