AP preseason poll released: UK at top; MSU, 'Ville, Duke, KU follow

By Matt Norlander | College Basketball Writer

More College Basketball: Season preview | Top 25 (And One) | Conference predictions

For the first time since 1996, the University of Kentucky enters the season as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press' preseason poll.

The AP's Top 25 rankings were released Thursday afternoon, and just below the Wildcats came Michigan State, then Louisville, Duke and Kansas to round out the top five.

You'll recall Kentucky -- who we also have as the No. 1 team here at CBSSports.com -- ended its season last year in the NIT, without a win in that tournament following a fall to Robert Morris. Kentucky went 15 of the final 16 weeks of the 2012-13 as an unranked club, and wasn't ranked at season's end. The previous time a program entered a season as the AP No. 1 after not finishing the previous year in the Top 25? That'd be the 1979-80 Indiana Hoosiers. That Bobby Knight-coached IU team earned a No. 2 seed and fell in the Sweet 16 to Purdue.

Somewhat surprisingly, it's only the third time in Kentucky's history it's been the No. 1 preseason team via the AP poll. The first time came in 1980-81 when, coincidentally, Indiana would go on to win the national title.

Here is the full poll, with votes for first place in parentheses:

1. Kentucky (27)
2. Michigan State (22)
3. Louisville (14)
4. Duke (2)
5. Kansas
6. Arizona
7. Michigan
8. Oklahome State (tie)
8. Syracuse (tie)
10. Florida
11. Ohio State
12. Memphis
13. North Carolina
14. VCU
15. Gonzaga
16. Wichita State
17. Marquette
18. Connecticut
19. Oregon
20. Wisconsin
21. Notre Dame
22. UCLA
23. New Mexico
24. Virginia
25. Baylor.

The ACC -- which brings in Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame this season -- boasts the most teams in the above ranking (five) than any other league. Big Ten claims four. The Big 12, Pac-12 and American Athletic Conference have three apiece. As for snubs? Well, teams in the CBSSports.com Consensus Preseason Top 25 that didn't make their way into this poll: Tennessee (16) and California (our "and one"/No. 26 team). Other fringe teams that could be considered top-25 worthy: Creighton, Colorado, Georgetown, Harvard and Iowa.

The college basketball season starts in earnest on Friday, Nov. 8, with more than 130 games taking place across the country.

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