In Tuesday’s Ivy League preseason media poll, Penn women’s basketball was unanimously tapped to finish atop the Ancient Eight for a third title in four years.
The Red and Blue received all 17 first-place votes, outpacing the rest of the Ivy League by a mile. With 136 points, the Quakers finished 26 points ahead of perennial rival Princeton (110). Harvard’s 104 points mark a comfortable separation between these three teams and the rest of the conference. Following the Crimson are Cornell (76), Dartmouth (66), Yale (56), Brown (40) and Columbia (24).
Under McLaughlin, Penn has never stood alone atop the poll. When they won his first title in 2013-14, the Quakers were slated to finish third. The next year, they tied for first with Princeton. Last year, the Tigers got 16 of 17 first-place votes after going undefeated the previous season.
This is the fourth time overall that the Quakers have topped the poll since the inaugural edition in 1999. Penn won the poll in each of the first two years it was held, in addition to the tie with Princeton two years ago. The 1999-2000 poll marks the only other time the Quakers were selected to win the league unanimously.
Although the Red and Blue return all five starters from a year ago, the path to an Ivy title isn’t as clean as it was in years past. This season marks the implementation of the league’s conference tournament, meaning the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament will come from a four-team playoff — not simply the regular season title.
That said, Ivy play is a long way away. For now, the Quakers have their eyes set on Nov. 13, when they will open the regular season on the road at Duke. Then, once January rolls around, the title defense can begin.