- Associated Press - Saturday, January 23, 2016

A season of transition in ACC women’s basketball has the league in unfamiliar territory.

No. 3 Notre Dame is the only Atlantic Coast Conference team ranked higher than 14th in the Top 25. The ACC had three teams in the top 12 this time last year and had four schools in the top 10 at this point in 2013-14.

Duke is out of the Top 25 for the first time since 1999. The only ranked ACC teams other than Notre Dame are No. 14 Florida State, No. 16 Miami and No. 17 Louisville.

“We’re a young league right now,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “When you look at this senior class, you’re not looking at a lot of WNBA draft picks in the senior class. When you look at the freshmen and sophomores, you’ve got loads of talent in the conference.”

The ACC arguably has been hit harder by transfers than any major conference.

North Carolina reached the Elite Eight in 2014 with a talented freshman class that has since scattered. Diamond DeShields, the leading scorer on that North Carolina team, now plays for Tennessee. Allisha Gray (South Carolina), Stephanie Mavunga (Ohio State) and Jessica Washington (Kansas) begin playing for their new teams next season.

Duke lost Sierra Calhoun and Kianna Holland to Ohio State. South Carolina has Virginia transfer Sarah Imovbioh and adds former Georgia Tech star Kaela Davis next season. Notre Dame also had an unexpected loss when All-America guard Jewell Loyd entered the WNBA draft after her junior season.

“There have definitely been some transfers, (but) I also feel too that the rankings are misleading,” Duke coach Joanne P. McCallie said.

McCallie believes the rankings don’t offer a complete measure of the league’s strength. She said the ACC has more parity this year and cited Louisville as an example of a team that will be much better in March than it was in November.

Ranked eighth at the start of the season, Louisville got off to a 3-5 start. The Cardinals have since won 11 straight games and are tied for the league lead with Notre Dame.

Three of Louisville’s four leading scorers are sophomores Myisha Hines-Allen and Mariya Moore and freshman Asia Durr. Three of Notre Dame’s top four scorers are sophomore Brianna Turner and freshmen Marina Mabrey and Arike Ogunbowale.

Georgia Tech’s Aaliyah Whiteside, Florida State’s Adut Bulgak and Notre Dame’s Madison Cable are the only seniors to rank among the ACC’s top 17 scorers, a list that includes nine sophomores. Bulgak is the only senior to rank among the ACC’s top eight rebounders.

“It’s just taking some teams a little bit of time to jell,” McGraw said. “There have been some injuries, there have been some transfers that have definitely been impacting the way the season has started out, but I think by the end of the year you’ll see a lot of these teams have regained their position in the top 15.”

Here’s a look at how the league races shape up in some other conferences:

American Athletic Conference: No. 1 Connecticut has defeated league opponents by 46.7 points per game. Tulane, No. 15 South Florida and Temple are in a three-way tie for second place. USF was in sole possession of second place before losing 88-87 at Memphis in overtime on Wednesday.

Big 12: No. 4 Baylor and No. 6 Texas are dueling for conference supremacy. Baylor won 80-67 at Texas on Sunday to hand the Longhorns their only loss of the season. Baylor’s only loss was a 52-45 decision at Oklahoma State on Dec. 30. Other ranked Big 12 teams are No. 19 Oklahoma and No. 25 West Virginia.

Big Ten: No. 5 Maryland and No. 7 Ohio State are tied for first place with one conference loss each, though Ohio State already won at Maryland on Jan. 2. The teams meet again at Ohio State on Feb. 8. No. 21 Michigan State is the only other Big Ten team in the Top 25.

Pac-12: No. 8 Arizona State has matched its highest ranking ever and is seeking its first regular-season conference title since winning a share of the crown in 2000-01. The Sun Devils also were ranked eighth in March 2007. Arizona State, which hasn’t lost a conference game, is joined in the Top 25 by No. 11 Oregon State, No. 12 Stanford and No. 20 UCLA.

SEC: No. 2 South Carolina’s unbeaten record gives the Gamecocks a commanding lead in the league standings, as everyone else has at least two conference losses. Also in the Top 25 are No. 9 Kentucky, No. 10 Mississippi State, No. 13 Texas A&M;, No. 18 Tennessee, No. 22 Florida and No. 23 Missouri. Kentucky and Mississippi State lost to unranked teams Thursday.

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