Luke DeCock

Luke DeCock’s AP basketball poll ballot: Preseason

Duke's Trevon Duval (1) moves the ball against Northwest Missouri State Chris-Ebou Ndow (23) in the second half of play. Duke beat Northwest Missouri State 93-60 in an exhibition game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Friday, October 27, 2017.
Duke's Trevon Duval (1) moves the ball against Northwest Missouri State Chris-Ebou Ndow (23) in the second half of play. Duke beat Northwest Missouri State 93-60 in an exhibition game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in Durham, N.C. Friday, October 27, 2017. Chuck Liddy

For the first time this season, I’m serving as a voter in the AP’s Top 25 basketball poll. Four thoughts on my preseason poll:

1. I thought Michigan State, Duke and Arizona all had legitimate claims to the No. 1 spot. I went with the Spartans because they have more experience than Duke and we don’t know the toll the FBI investigation will take on Arizona.

2. Wichita State is going to be really good. Prepare yourself for that eventuality. Other than that, I played it pretty vanilla here.

3. Among the ACC schools, I’m not as high on Miami as some and I’m willing to give Tony Bennett the benefit of the doubt that his team will be better with a year of experience for several of his players, even without London Perrantes. Louisville may struggle without Rick Pitino and with a rookie head coach in a cutthroat league, but there’s still top-25 talent there.

4. Among the schools that have some work to do to convince me: UCLA, Minnesota, TCU and Rhode Island. I’m skeptical of the first three of those, very curious about the fourth.

MY TOP 25

1. Michigan State

2. Duke

3. Arizona

4. Wichita State

5. Kansas

6. Villanova

7. Kentucky

8. Florida

9. North Carolina

10. Cincinnati

11. Southern Cal

12. West Virginia

13. Purdue

14. Gonzaga

15. Notre Dame

16. Alabama

17. Xavier

18. St. Mary's

19. Seton Hall

20. Baylor

21. Virginia

22. Texas A&M

23. Miami

24. Northwestern

25. Louisville

Sports columnist Luke DeCock: 919-829-8947, ldecock@newsobserver.com, @Luke DeCock

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