Gonzaga held the No. The No. 1 ranking was held by Gonzaga throughout the last season, before falling just short of becoming the first college basketball champion unbeaten in 45 years.
Mark Few’s Bulldogs begin this season in the same place, and hope to make it that last step.
The Zags were the clear top choice in Monday’s Associated Press Top 25 Men’s College Basketball Preseason Poll. They received 55 of the 63 first-place votes, easily beating No. 2 UCLA was awarded the eight other first-place votes. Texas, Villanova, Kansas and Texas completed the top five. National champion Baylor landed at No. 8.
In 23 years of playing under Few, the Zags have achieved almost every milestone in their career. The only exception was the reduction of nets on the last Monday night. With a wire to wire No. 1, they were close to completing their first unbeaten season since 1976. 1 team only to lose to the Bears in an Indianapolis one-sided final.
They’ll do it again.
“It’s an honor to be preseason No. Few stated in a statement to AP that it was an honor to be selected preseason No. 1 for the second year. “Our returning players understand the challenges of playing at that level year after year and look forward it,” Few said.
Gonzaga lost AP All-Americans Corey Kispert, Jalen Suggs, to the NBA. However, Drew Timme (19.0 ppg, 7.0 rebounds), and starting guard Andrew Nembhard both return. The Zags have also brought in the nation’s No. Chet Holmgren, a 7-footer, is the Zags’ top overall recruit. Hunter Sallis is a five-star Guard.
The Zags are ranked in the top 3 for 32 consecutive polls going back to 2019-20, with 22 of them at No. 1.
THE TOP TIER
Mick Cronin, UCLA’s second-year coach, is on a rapid climb.
Johnny Juzang, the leading scorer (16.0 points per game), leads a Bruins roster that is almost intact following last year’s run to the Final Four. They lost to Gonzaga on a halfcourt shot during an overtime classic.
They will be starting their season with their first preseason top-10 ranking since 2009. This is also their first top-10 ranking in an AP poll since they spent 13 weeks there during 2016-17.
Cronin stated this month that “your seed or ranking doesn’t matter when it comes to tournament time”
Kansas is the 10th consecutive preseason top-10 ranking. The Wildcats and Longhorns follow with their first season under Chris Beard, which marks the highest preseason ranking since 2010.
Baylor is in the top 10 preseason rankings for the second consecutive year despite losing four of last year’s winner, AP All-Americans Jared Butler (AP All-American) and Davion Mitchell (AP All-American). The Bears will attempt to join Duke (1991-1992) and Florida (2006)-07 as the only schools to have won consecutive titles since UCLA’s seven-straight run from 1967-73.
Baylor coach Scott Drew stated that “we have an unique opportunity” after talking with his team.
After seasons unmatched in their rich tradition, Duke and Kentucky have started with high rankings.
The Blue Devils, ranked ninth in the country, are playing their final season under Mike Krzyzewski, a Hall of Fame coach. They are coming off a season of 13-11, which saw them miss the NCAA Tournament for only the second time since 1995.
After a 9-16 season that was the first losing season since 1988-89, the 10th-ranked Wildcats are just behind them.
North Carolina was also in the NCAA Tournament, but it was inconsistent throughout the season and was not among the Top 25 before Christmas. No. 19 in their first season of Hubert Davis’s management. This was after Roy Williams, a Hall of Famer, retired in April.
St. Bonaventure has been ranked for the first-time in over five decades. No. 1 are the Bonnies of the Atlantic 10. 23 marks the first time that they have been ranked since January 1971. The preseason was the last time that the program was ranked (No. 20
Five national-best ranked teams are each available from the Big Ten and Southeastern conferences.
No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Michigan, No. 11 Illinois, No. 11 Illinois, No. 21 Maryland The SEC is the No. 14 Alabama, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 22 Auburn joining Kentucky.
Next up is the ACC with four members, including No. 20 Florida State and No. 25 Virginia joins Duke and UNC. The Big 12 has its Kansas, Texas-Baylor trio while the Pac-12 (UCLA & No. 13 Oregon, Big East (Villanova) and No. 24 Connecticut), and American Athletic Conference. 12 Memphis and No. 12 Memphis and No. 15 Houston are two other Top 25 teams.
All the top unranked teams come from power conferences, with Michigan State being the most popular vote-getter. Next up are Indiana, Southern California, and Arizona under Mike Woodson as first-year coaches.