Gonzaga carried a No. 1 rating all final season earlier than falling a win in need of changing into faculty basketball’s first unbeaten nationwide champion in 45 years.
Mark Few’s Bulldogs begin this season in the identical place, hoping to finish that remaining step this time round.
The Zags had been the runaway best choice within the Related Press Prime 25 males’s faculty basketball preseason ballot launched Monday. They earned 55 of 63 first-place votes to simply outdistance No. 2 UCLA, which earned the opposite eight. Kansas, Villanova and Texas rounded out the highest 5, whereas reigning nationwide champion Baylor checked in at No. 8.
The Zags have reached nearly each milestone potential in 23 years below Few aside from reducing down the nets on the ultimate Monday night time of the season. They got here near finishing the primary unbeaten run since 1976 final yr with a wire-to-wire No. 1 crew, solely to fall to the Bears in a one-sided remaining in Indianapolis.
Now they’re going to attempt once more.
“It’s fairly an honor to be chosen preseason No. 1 for the second consecutive yr,” Few stated in a press release to the AP. “Our returning gamers understand the problem of taking part in as much as that degree all yr and stay up for it.”
Gonzaga misplaced AP All-Individuals Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs to the NBA, however second-team choice Drew Timme (19.0 factors, 7.0 rebounds) and beginning guard Andrew Nembhard return. The Zags additionally herald a prime recruiting class that includes the nation’s No. 1 total recruit in 7-footer Chet Holmgren and a five-star guard in Hunter Sallis.
Going again to the 2019-20 season, the Zags have now been ranked within the prime three for 32 straight polls, with 22 of these at No. 1.
The highest tier
Second-year coach Mick Cronin has UCLA on a quick climb.
Main scorer Johnny Juzang (16.0 PPG) headlines a Bruins roster that returns practically intact after final yr’s run from the First 4 to the Ultimate 4, the place they misplaced to Gonzaga on a half-court shot in an extra time basic.
They’re beginning with their first top-10 preseason rating since 2009 and their first top-10 rating in any AP ballot since spending 13 weeks there throughout the 2016-17 season.
“If we taught anyone something final yr,” Cronin stated this month, “your seed or your rating doesn’t matter come event time.”
Kansas has this system’s Tenth straight preseason top-10 rating, adopted by the Wildcats and Longhorns, who open their first season below Chris Beard with this system’s highest preseason rating since 2010.
Baylor has a second straight top-10 preseason rating regardless of dropping 4 starters from final yr’s title winner, together with AP All-Individuals Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell. The Bears will attempt to be part of Duke (1991-92) and Florida (2006-07) as the one faculties to win consecutive titles since UCLA’s run of seven straight from 1967 to ’73.
“As we have talked with our crew,” Baylor coach Scott Drew stated, “we have now a singular alternative.”
Blue bloods again?
Duke and Kentucky are beginning with their usually excessive rankings after seasons in contrast to many of their tradition-rich histories.
The ninth-ranked Blue Devils are taking part in their remaining season below retiring Corridor of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski. They’re coming off a 13-11 season that included lacking the NCAA event for the primary time since 1995.
The Tenth-ranked Wildcats are proper behind them after a 9-16 season, this system’s first dropping file since 1988-89.
Then there’s North Carolina, which made the NCAA event however was inconsistent all season and out of the Prime 25 earlier than Christmas. The Tar Heels open at No. 19 of their first season below Hubert Davis, promoted after the retirement of Corridor of Famer Roy Williams in April.
St. Bonaventure is ranked for the primary time in additional than 5 a long time. The Bonnies from the Atlantic 10 are No. 23, marking the primary time they’ve been ranked since January 1971. That season was additionally the final time this system was ranked within the preseason (No. 20).
The Huge Ten and Southeastern conferences have a nation-best 5 ranked groups every.
The Huge Ten has No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Michigan, No. 11 Illinois, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 21 Maryland. The SEC has No. 14 Alabama, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 18 Tennessee and No. 22 Auburn becoming a member of Kentucky.
The ACC is subsequent up with 4, with No. 20 Florida State and No. 25 Virginia becoming a member of Duke and UNC. The Huge 12 has its Kansas-Texas-Baylor trio, whereas the Pac-12 (UCLA and No. 13 Oregon), Huge East (Villanova and No. 24 UConn) and American Athletic Convention (No. 12 Memphis and No. 15 Houston) are the others with a number of Prime 25 groups.
The highest unranked groups are all from energy conferences, headlined by Michigan State because the main vote-getter. Subsequent up is Indiana below first-year coach Mike Woodson, Southern California and Arizona below new coach Tommy Lloyd.