- For the third time in program history, the Kansas Jayhawks headline the AP Top 25 preseason poll with 37 first-place votes.
- No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Gonzaga, and No. 4 Duke appeared in the top four spots – in various combinations – across nearly half of the ballots.
- Although the Jayhawks lost three of last season’s starters, they have added three notable transfers and the fifth-ranked recruiting class to pair with their returning starters from last year’s Final Four squad.
In most recent years, the conversation at the start of the college basketball season surrounds one mega team that is destined to dominate the rest of the field.
But not this year.
For the first time since the 2004-05 season, seven different teams received first-place votes in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. While the Kansas Jayhawks came out on top with 37 votes for the top spot, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Gonzaga, No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Virginia, No. 6 Tennessee, and No. 9 Villanova all received at least one first-place vote.
That being said, voters seemed to reach a consensus with the top four teams. Kansas, Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Duke appeared in the top four spots – in various combinations – across nearly half of the ballots.
Although the Jayhawks lost three of last season’s starters – including AP All-American Devonte’ Graham – they have added three notable transfers and the No. 5 recruiting class to pair with upperclassmen starters Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick from last year’s Final Four squad.
For his part, Hall of Fame coach Bill Self did not seem to expect his team to take the top spot this early on:
“Obviously we lost a lot off last year’s team with Devonte’, Svi [Mykhailiuk] and Malik [Newman], so I’m a little surprised that the writers put us there this preseason,” Self told the AP’s Aaron Beard. “It’s definitely a spot we welcome and certainly know the goal is to be playing to that ranking by when it counts the most. With the young players, we know it’s going to take some time before we’re anywhere close to where we’re going to be, but I do like this team and I think we have a chance to be very good.”
Although they haven’t sat atop the preseason poll since the 2014-15 season, the No. 2 Wildcats have found themselves in the preseason top 5 for the last eight years, while the No. 4 Blue Devils – who topped the rankings in each of the past two years – have been a top-10 team in the each of the last 23 preseason polls. Third-ranked Gonzaga, meanwhile, earned its highest ranking in a preseason AP poll in program history.
Here’s the entire AP Top 25:
1. Kansas (37)
2. Kentucky (19)
3. Gonzaga (1)
4. Duke (4)
5. Virginia (2)
6. Tennessee (1)
8. North Carolina
9. Villanova (1)
10. Michigan State
12. Kansas State
13. West Virginia
15. Virginia Tech
17. Florida State
18. Mississippi State
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