Arizona checks in at No. 3 in AP preseason basketball poll

BY • November 1, 2017

Arizona pulled 18 of 65 first-place votes and is ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press preseason basketball poll. The Wildcats trail Duke and Michigan State.

Duke is the preseason No. 1 for the second year in a row and ninth time overall, matching rival North Carolina for most all-time. The Blue Devils, who garnered 33 first-place votes, are led by senior guard Grayson Allen and freshman big man Marvin Bagley III -- the nation's top recruit who decided to reclassify and become eligible for this season.

Arizona, which has been caught up in an FBI recruiting investigation, got the second-most first-place votes, but Michigan State, which got 13, topped the Wildcats in overall voting from a national media panel.

Kansas got the remaining first-place vote and checks in at No. 5, followed by Villanova, Wichita State, Florida, defending national champion and Southern California.

West Virginia was No. 11, followed by Cincinnati, Miami, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Louisville, Xavier, 2017 national runner-up Gonzaga, Northwestern and Purdue. No. 19 Northwestern is ranked in the preseason poll for the first time.

UCLA, Saint Mary's, Seton Hall, Baylor and Texas A&M fill the final five spots.

North Carolina was ranked No. 6 in the 2016 preseason poll before going on to beat Gonzaga for its sixth national title.

Duke had three players leave school early, but coach Mike Krzyzewski restocked the Blue Devils with another stellar recruiting class. The class is led by Bagley, an athletic 6-foot-11 forward was widely considered the No. 1 recruit of the 2018 class before reclassifying.

Duke, which lost to Final Four-bound South Carolina in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, is ranked No. 1 for the 129th time, five behind all-time leader UCLA.

"It is an honor to be picked No. 1 in your sport," Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "At this time of the year, it truly is a prediction, so you haven't earned No. 1 yet. More than likely, past teams that have played at Duke have put this team in a position where people might say, 'How is that team going to do?' or `They have a lot of talent' and all of the sudden, you're No. 1. Certainly, it's an honor and we'll look forward to trying to achieve and earn that ranking at some time during the season, hopefully at the end."

The Atlantic Coast Conference had the most ranked teams with five, while the Big 12 and Big Ten had four each. The Big East and Pac-12 each had three.

Kansas extended the nation's longest consecutive poll streak with its 162nd straight Top 25, a run that started on Feb. 3, 2009. Arizona is next with 98.

Arizona, USC and Louisville all enter the season clouded in uncertainty. Assistant coaches from Arizona and USC -- along with Auburn and Oklahoma State -- were arrested in a federal investigation into bribing players. Louisville will play under interim coach David Padgett after coach Rick Pitino was fired in the wake of the scandal that alleged that a recruit was supposed to receive payments from Adidas for committing to the Cardinals.

The first regular-season poll will be Nov. 13. The season will have an early 1-2 matchup the next day, when Duke plays Michigan State in Chicago in the Champions Classic. No. 4 Kansas plays No. 5 Kentucky in the second half of the doubleheader.

See the full poll: http://collegebasketball.ap.org/poll


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