The ACC led all conferences with five teams in The Associated Press preseason mens basketball Top 25 poll, which was released Thursday. Kentucky, though, with a freshman class that many consider to be the strongest ever, will enter the season ranked No. 1.
The Wildcats are coming off a disappointing 21-12 season that ended with a loss against Robert Morris in the first round of the NIT. Even so, Kentucky received 27 of a possible 65 first-place votes in large part because of the addition of six freshmen who earned McDonalds All-American honors last season.
Duke, at No. 4, is the highest-ranked team from the ACC. The Blue Devils should be among coach Mike Krzyzewskis most athletic Duke teams.
Duke lost three seniors who averaged double figures in scoring Mason Plumlee, Seth Curry and Ryan Kelly but the Blue Devils are adding Rodney Hood, a 6-foot-8 sophomore forward who transferred from Mississippi State, and Jabari Parker, a 6-8 forward who was considered one of the best high school prospects in the nation.
This is Dukes 349th appearance in the top 5 of the AP poll, which debuted in 1949. That ranks third all time, behind Kentucky and North Carolina, which is No. 12 in the preseason Top 25.
Syracuse, one of the ACCs three basketball newcomers, is between Duke and UNC at No. 8. Notre Dame, another ACC newcomer, is No. 21, and Virginia is No. 24.
Dukes preseason ranking of No. 4 is the Blue Devils highest since it entered the 2010-11 season ranked No. 1. The Blue Devils that season were derailed by an injury to freshman point guard Kyrie Irving, who returned in March before Duke ended its season with a loss against Arizona in the Sweet 16.
Kentucky, meanwhile, is the preseason No. 1 for the third time and first since the 1995-96 season, which ended with the Wildcats winning the national championship.
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