Duke is the overwhelming No. 1 team in the men’s basketball AP Top 25 preseason poll, which was released Monday. Here are some instant takeaways from the rest of the poll.
Mike Krzyzewski brought in one of the nation’s most heralded recruiting classes to team up with returning junior Grayson Allen, and that was enough to convince 58 of the 60 voters to place Duke as the No. 1 team in the the AP Top 25 preseason poll.
The Blue Devils are coming off an 11-loss season, tied for Krzyzewski’s most defeats since going 18-13 in 1995-96. But the additions of Harry Giles, Marques Bolden, Frank Jackson and Jayson Tatum are expected to help bring Krzyzewski his sixth national championship in 2016-17.
That’s not to say Duke won’t have plenty of competition. Here’s a look at some takeaways from the rest of the AP Top 25 as we near the start of the season.
Hey, What About Us?
Kentucky received the other two first-place votes, as coach John Calipari begins another season with high expectations from a stellar recruiting class. Duke’s class has received most of the attention, but Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk all were consensus top-10 recruits that Calipari lured to Lexington. They’ll team up with Isaiah Briscoe, who returns after averaging 9.6 points and starting 33 games as a freshman.
It might be No. 3 Kansas that has the incoming freshman with the most upside, though. Josh Jackson is viewed as the potential No. 1 pick in next summer’s NBA draft. He’s a lanky 6-foot-7 and plays well above the rim, and coach Bill Self believes he can be one of the most exciting players in the nation.
And don’t sleep on the defending national champion. Top-20 recruit Omari Spellman has been ruled ineligible for the season, but No. 4 Villanova has one of the nation’s best backcourts in Jalen Brunson and Josh Hart.
There will be some quality basketball being played in this year’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge, as the conferences lead the way with five teams apiece in the preseason AP Top 25.
On Nov. 29, Tom Izzo brings his own solid recruiting class, featuring Miles Bridges, to Cameron Indoor Stadium as No. 12 Michigan State faces top-ranked Duke. Elsewhere, No. 19 Syracuse visits No. 9 Wisconsin while Pittsburgh will travel to College Park to take on No. 25 Maryland.
The following day features No. 15 Purdue at No. 13 Louisville and No. 6 North Carolina at No. 11 Indiana. Ohio State visits No. 8 Virginia.
Mark Jan. 14 and Feb. 11 on your calendars. Those are the dates No. 14 Gonzaga and No. 17 St. Mary’s meet in West Coast Conference action during the regular season.
The Bulldogs and Gaels shared the WCC title last season and are poised to make some noise on the national stage in 2016-17. Gonzaga lost Kyle Wiltjer and Domantas Sabonis, but it added point guard Nigel Williams-Goss as a transfer from Washington after he averaged 14.5 points and 5.1 assists in two seasons with the Huskies.
St. Mary’s beat Gonzaga twice last season and won 29 games while leading the nation in field-goal percentage, but it didn’t receive a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Emmett Naar and Joe Rahon form one of the nation’s must underrated backcourts.