Duke leads 5 ACC teams in preseason Top 25, but Kentucky gets top billing

acarter@newsobserver.comOctober 31, 2013 

  • Carter’s Top 25 Poll

    News & Observer reporter Andrew Carter is among the 65 voters who decide The Associated Press men’s basketball top 25. Here is his preseason ballot:

    1. Duke

    2. Louisville

    3. Michigan State

    4. Arizona

    5. Kentucky

    6. Kansas

    7. Michigan

    8. Syracuse

    9. Oklahoma State

    10. Florida

    11. VCU

    12. Ohio State

    13. Connecticut

    14. Wisconsin

    15. Wichita State

    16. Oregon

    17. Notre Dame

    18. North Carolina

    19. Virginia

    20. Gonzaga

    21. Creighton

    22. Memphis

    23. Marquette

    24. Iowa

    25. Indiana

The ACC led all conferences with five teams in The Associated Press preseason men’s 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 McDonald’s 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 Krzyzewski’s 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 Duke’s 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 ACC’s three basketball newcomers, is between Duke and UNC at No. 8. Notre Dame, another ACC newcomer, is No. 21, and Virginia is No. 24.

Duke’s 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.

Carter: 919-829-8944; Twitter: @_andrewcarter

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