The first top-25 poll is based on speculation with some basis on how a team finished in the previous season.
Wisconsin, for example, was No. 17 in the preseason top 25 last season after making it to the national title game. The Badgers wouldn’t be included in the final top 25.
This season UW comes in at No. 8 in the preseason, thanks in large part to an experienced team, led by Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig, as well as Ethan Happ, who showed a lot of promise as a freshman.
According to an article on NCAA.com, being ranked No. 8 portends well for the Badgers. The article states that 86 percent of teams ranked in the preseason top 25 since 1984-85 have made it to the NCAA tournament and 362 of 384 ranked in the top 12 played in the NCAAs.
Last season, the No. 8-ranked team in the nation in the preseason was Oklahoma, which made it to the Final Four.
National champion Villanova? The Wildcats were No. 11.
So, yeah, a lot of speculation.
As far as the ballots, Wisconsin was ranked as high as No. 4 and as low as No. 13. We can’t point fingers at anyone in this poll as it is just preseason guessing. Later ballots might cause some critiquing though, of course.
For now, though, here’s the ballots from the preseason AP poll: