Duke No. 2 in AP preseason hoops poll, UNC ranked 19th

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Monday, October 16, 2023
Duke No. 2 in Top 25 preseason hoops poll
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Kansas was the clear No. 1 pick in the AP Top 25 preseason men's basketball poll with Duke ranked No. 2

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- With college basketball season right around the corner, the AP Top 25 preseason men's basketball poll was revealed Monday.

Duke finds itself at No. 2, behind only Kansas. It's familiar territory for the Blue Devils, who have started the season ranked in the Top 10 for 16 consecutive seasons.

The Blue Devils also extended the nation's longest streak of being ranked in the top 10 at any point in the season to 28 consecutive years. The next closest is the Jayhawks, who have been ranked inside the top 10 at some point in 18 straight seasons.

Expectations are high at Duke under second-year head coach Jon Scheyer. The Blue Devils have four starters back from last year's team that went 27-9 overall and won the ACC championship for a record 22nd time.

The Blue Devils get things rolling with Countdown to Craziness on Friday at 7 p.m. and welcome UNC Pembroke to Cameron Indoor for an exhibition on Nov. 1 at 7 p.m.

Duke head coach Jon Scheyer is entering his second season at the helm. With a No. 2 national ranking, expectations are high in Durham.
Jacob Kupferman

Duke opens the regular season against Dartmouth on Nov. 6 at 9 p.m., before meeting No. 12 Arizona at home on Nov. 10 at 7 p.m. and then No. 4 Michigan State in the annual Champions Classic, this year in Chicago.

See Duke's full schedule

A few miles away in Chapel Hill, the expectations might not be quite as high, but North Carolina, which made dubious history last year by becoming the first program to begin the season No. 1 in the expanded era and not make the NCAA tournament field, figure to be improved this year with a stellar class coming in led by freshman guard Elliot Cadeau.

The Tar Heels are ranked No. 19 to begin this season.

North Carolina is set to play at least seven games against members of the AP Preseason Top 25. That includes against ACC rivals No. 2 Duke and No. 13 Miami, as well as non-conference matchups with No. 6 UConn, No. 9 Tennessee and No. 16 Kentucky.

The Tar Heels will host Saint Augustine's in an exhibition on Oct. 27 before opening the regular season on Nov. 6 against Radford.

See UNC's full schedule

The Jayhawks were the clear No. 1 choice of voters, earning 46 of 63 first-place votes to easily outdistance Duke and No. 3 Purdue.

"You know you'll have a target on your back playing at Kansas," said Kevin McCullar Jr., who decided to return for a second season with the Jayhawks and fifth in college hoops. "We'll have that chip on our shoulder, you know, prove everybody wrong, and state why you should be the No. 1 team in the nation. You go out there and use that. You use that as fuel every day."

The Jayhawks had a disappointing follow-up to their 2022 national title last season, losing to Texas in the Big 12 championship and falling to Arkansas in the opening weekend of the NCAA tournament.

Kansas has three returning starters in McCullar, Dajuan Harris Jr., and K.J. Adams, along with top-50 recruit Elmarko Jackson and Michigan transfer Hunter Dickinson, perhaps the biggest prize of this past summer's portal moves.

Duke picked up 11 first-place votes and Purdue got three first-place nods as it tries to avenge a stunning end to last season. AP player of the year Zach Edey and the Boilermakers became the second men's No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament when they lost to Fairleigh Dickinson.

Edey's deadline-day decision to return to the Boilermakers, rather than turn pro, kept them a national title contender.

"We had a tough finish to the season losing in the first round. Hopefully, that sits with us as a coaching staff and really as a program to make us better, so we can have more success in March," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "But as you guys all know, it doesn't start there. The process starts all over, and you can't miss any steps."

Michigan State was fourth with one first-place vote, its highest ranking since December 2020, and Marquette rounded out the top five with AP Coach of the Year Shaka Smart returning a loaded squad led by third-team All-American Tyler Kolek.

Defending national champion UConn was sixth with two first-place votes after losing standouts Adama Sanogo and Jordan Hawkins. The Huskies were followed by Big 12 newcomer Houston, Creighton, Tennessee and Florida Atlantic, which returns just about everyone from the team that went 35-4 and made a surprising Final Four run last season.

"We have some guys that are ready to play, have been ready to play but under circumstances have had to take a back seat," said Owls coach Dusty May, whose team has jumped from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference.

"We'll be a little different," May said, "but we'll still be versatile, and we'll play a lot of guys."

Gonzaga was No. 11, followed by Arizona, Miami (Florida), Arkansas and Texas A&M. Kentucky came in at No. 16, with national runner-up San Diego State next, and Texas, North Carolina and Baylor rounded out the top 20.

The final five were Southern California, Villanova, Saint Mary's, Alabama and Illinois.

Wisconsin, Colorado and UCLA are the first three outside the Top 25; the Bruins were No. 7 in the final poll last season. Also on the outside were Xavier and Kansas State, both of whom were in the top 15 entering last year's NCAA tournament.

The Associated Press and ESPN contributed.