For the first time in three years, Duke and North Carolina will begin the season ranked among the top six teams in the country. The Blue Devils are ranked fourth in the preseason Associated Press Top 25, released on Friday, and the Tar Heels are No. 6.
North Carolina is back in the Top 10 of the preseason poll for the first time since 2011, when the Tar Heels began the season ranked No. 1. Duke, meanwhile, will enter this season with the same ranking as it did a season ago, when the Blue Devils finished the season with a surprising loss in its first NCAA tournament game.
The preseason rankings reflected the strength – at least the perceived strength – of the ACC. Duke and North Carolina are the two most highly ranked members of the conference but Louisville (No. 8) and Virginia (No. 9) are also in the Top 10.
No other conference has more than two teams ranked among the preseason Top 10. Syracuse is also in the poll, at No. 23, giving the ACC five ranked teams. That ties the conference with the Big Ten for the most teams in the Top 25.
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Virginia hadn’t been ranked in the preseason Top 10 since the 1982-83 season. The Cavaliers, led by Ralph Sampson, entered that season ranked No. 1 before losing to N.C. State, the eventual national champion, in an NCAA tournament regional championship game.
Staff writer Andrew Carter is one of the voters in the AP poll.