North Carolina surprised almost everyone last year when a talented team led by first-year coach Hubert Davis won the No. The No. 8 seed made it to the national championship game in the NCAA Tournament.
Tar heels aren’t sneaking up on anyone this year.
Four starters return from loss to Kansas In New Orleans, Tar Heels were the runaway rookie with the No. 1 pick in the preseason.No. 1 in AP’s Top 25 Released on Monday. They won 47 of 62 first-place votes in the national media panel, easily beating Gonzaga, the top team in the past two preseasons.
The Bulldogs got 12 first-place votes and none. 3 Houston has a fourth-ranked Kentucky The other two.
“When they opened the lockers at their first practice last year, there was a photo of the New Orleans Super Arena. I want them to see where we’re going in April,” Davis recalled last week. “The hard work and preparation, the practice that had to be put in place allowed us to do this. The approach is the same this year compared to last year. The only difference this year is the noise outside.
“Last year,” Davis said, “the outside noise thought we had no chance. This year the outside noise thought we did.”
It was North Carolina’s 10th preseason first-place finish. 1. The Associated Press polls have the most neck and neck with Duke in historyBut in those years, the Tar Heels only made it to the national championship game twice, and only James Worthy and Michael Jordan’s 1981-82 team ended up scoring the Nets.
“Like Coach Davis always preaches, there’s a lot of noise out there and we don’t really worry about that,” said Caleb Love, one of four returning starters at North Carolina State. And RJ Davis, Leaky Black and Armando Bacot.
“We’re just focused on our team,” Love said, “and we’re getting better every day.”
The Bulldogs will once again rely on Drew Timme to provide coach Mark Few with his elusive national title. Houston has its highest preseason ranking since 1983, when the Cougars’ third Phi Slama Jama team won their second straight championship. Kentucky’s preseason standings are the best since 2019, when the season ended amid the pandemic.
There is no draw. The Jayhawks, who raised their latest national championship banner at Allen Arena earlier this month, are ranked No. 5 between Big 12 rivals Baylor, who raised their own banner last season.
At Duke, Jon Sheyer replaced Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski at No. 7 and UCLA No. 8. Creighton was No. 1 in the preseason. 9, followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, TCU and Auburn.
“When you’re drafted ninth, you don’t care too much about it,” Blue Jays coach Greg McDermott said. “You go to work every day and try to be better every day. It’s important that we approach it the same way this year.”
The No. 13 Indians were ranked for the first time since January 2019 and their highest ranking in a preseason since 2016.
Villanova, where Kyle Neptune takes over for Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright, is No. 1. 16. The Wildcats’ lowest preseason ranking since 2008. It was followed by Arizona, Virginia, San Diego and Alabama.
The final five are Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, Dayton and Texas Tech.
“When I went to school as a player, I never believed in the rankings, what the media would say about our club. You still have to go out and play,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “Hell, we were No. 1 in my senior year. 1, we didn’t finish it. So at the end of the day, I guess it’s a good thing for the guys we haven’t been through. Again, you have to go out and play. … I mean, you have to prove it on the basketball court. That’s all that matters.”
The Big 12 and the SEC lead with the five No. 1 teams. The Big Ten, Pac 12 and ACC have three each, and the Big East has two. The West Coast, Atlantic 10, Mountain West and the USA Track and Field Conference each have a team to vote.
Texas A&M was the first team out of the polls, followed by UConn, which appeared on 24 of 62 ballots. When the first regular-season polls were released in November, Miami, Purdue and St. Louis were also eyeing the top 25 spots. 14.
mark your calendar
Most teams’ seasons start in November. 7, but as usual, the first meeting of the heavyweights will be the Champions Classic on November 7th. 15 Indianapolis: No. 4 Kentucky vs. Michigan State, for the second year in a row, was unranked in preseason voting, ahead of No. 4. 5 Kansas State Game 5. 7 The Duke in the Nightcap.
More AP College Basketball: https://apnews.com/Collegebasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25