Duke runaway No. 1 in preseason AP Top 25; Kentucky is No. 2

(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)
(AP Photo/Ben McKeown)

Duke is in a familiar place to open the college basketball season.

The Blue Devils are the runaway choice for No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason Top 25 on Monday. It is the eighth time Duke has held the preseason No. 1 ranking. North Carolina has the most preseason No. 1s with nine and UCLA also has eight.

The Blue Devils, who return three starters from last season’s team and have what is considered one of the top recruiting classes in the nation, received 58 of the 65 first-place votes from the national media panel.

Kentucky, which had two No. 1 votes, is second, while Kansas is third. Defending national champion Villanova had four first-place votes and was fourth while Oregon, which had the other No. 1 vote, is fifth.

North Carolina, Xavier, Virginia, Wisconsin and Arizona round out the top 10.

Indiana is 11th followed by Michigan State, Louisville, Gonzaga, Purdue, UCLA, Saint Mary’s, Connecticut, Syracuse and West Virginia.

The last five ranked teams are Texas, Creighton, Rhode Island, Iowa State and Maryland.

The first time Duke was a preseason No. 1 was 1978-79 and the most recent was 2010-11.

“It is always an honor to be ranked No. 1,” Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. “We understand that no teams have played a regular season game at this point, so many things can and often do change throughout the course of a college basketball season. Certainly, we’re excited that people think highly of our team, and the ACC as a whole.”

The Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten are tied with five ranked teams each while the Big 12 has four. Nine conferences have at least one team ranked in the preseason poll.

Duke, which was 19th in last season’s final poll, lost to Oregon in the regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament. The No. 1 ranking is Duke’s 128th, six behind all-time leader UCLA.

North Carolina was No. 1 in last season’s preseason Top 25 and the Tar Heels reached the national championship game, losing to Villanova on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Kansas extended the nation’s longest consecutive poll streak with its 143rd straight Top 25, a run that started on Feb. 3, 2009. Arizona is next with 79 followed by Iowa State with 57 and Villanova with 55.

The first regular-season poll will be Monday, Nov. 14. The first of the top early season matchups will be the following day when Duke faces Kansas and Michigan State plays Kentucky in the State Farm Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden.

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