Rutgers garnered 11 of 16 possible first-place votes to finish first with 221 points in the poll. The Scarlet Knights captured last year's regular season title with a 14-2 conference mark. Rutgers (28-7) advanced to the NCAA Championship for the seventh time in eight years, falling to Tennessee in the Elite Eight. The 2005-06 squad will be led by Preseason Player of the Year and All-Big East Team selection Cappie Pondexter, a senior guard. Sophomore Matee Ajavon, also a preseason all-league member, is coming off a successful rookie campaign when she was named the 2005 Big East Freshman of the Year.
Connecticut (25-8, 13-3 Big East) will be defending its Big East Championship title for the 12th time in program history.
The Huskies, who were picked second, earned five first-place votes and 215 points in the poll. Advancing to the NCAA Championship for the 17th consecutive season, UConn bowed out to Stanford in the Sweet 16, ending its streak of three straight NCAA titles. Connecticut will be led by Preseason All-Big East Team picks, seniors Barbara Turner and Ann Strother, who have also been tabbed as preseason candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy and the Wooden Award.
Notre Dame grabbed 191 points to finish third in the preseason poll. Last year, the Irish posted a record of 27-6 overall, 13-3 in the league and returned to the NCAA Championship for the 10th straight year, every season since joining the BIG EAST in 1995. The Irish advanced to the Big East Championship semifinals before falling to eventual champion, Connecticut. Senior Megan Duffy will lead charge for the Irish. The Preseason All-Big East Team member is a candidate for the State Farm Wade Trophy and the Wooden Award.
Big East newcomer DePaul was picked to finish fourth with 183 points. The Blue Demons are returning nine letterwinners and four starters from last season's 26-5 team that captured the Conference USA championship title. Twotime All-American and National Player of the Year candidate Khara Smith is back for her senior season after leading DePaul with 18.6 points and 11.7 rebounds per game. Smith is one of three players from the new Big East schools named to the Preseason All-Big East Team, along with Louisville junior Jazz Covington and USF junior Jessica Dickson.