Kansas On Top Of AP Preseason Top 25
Oct. 29, 2009
For the second time in its storied basketball history, Kansas is No. 1 in The Associated Press' preseason Top 25.
The Jayhawks were a runaway choice Thursday, receiving 55 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel to easily outdistance Michigan State, which was No. 1 on five ballots.
There was little suspense as to which team would top the preseason poll. Kansas has all five starters and the top nine scorers back from last season's team that went 27-8 and reached the third round of the NCAA tournament. The Jayhawks also feature a recruiting class considered among the nation's best.
"I'm not surprised," said Bill Self, who was also the coach the other time Kansas was the preseason No. 1 in 2004-05. "But I know this - we aren't practicing like a team that's preseason No. 1 in the country. It has been a very few good days of practice but we do have good players. ... There's a lot of excitement surrounding these guys."
The Jayhawks received great news when guard Sherron Collins and center Cole Aldrich, last season's leading scorers, decided to return to school rather than test the NBA draft. Then brothers Xavier and C.J. Henry decided to enroll in Lawrence, making the Jayhawks the early national favorite as well as the choice to win a sixth straight Big 12 title.
"My goal for this team isn't to play to that ranking early in the season," Self said. "My goal is to play to that ranking when it counts the most. I hope it happens soon."
Michigan State has seven of the top nine scorers back from the team that lost to North Carolina in the national championship game.
Texas, Kentucky and Villanova rounded out the top five, while North Carolina, a unanimous preseason No. 1 last season, was sixth. Kentucky received three first-place votes and Texas and North Carolina got one each. Purdue, West Virginia, Duke and Tennessee completed the top 10.
While Kansas' showing this preseason many not have been as impressive as North Carolina's a year earlier when it became the first ever unanimous preseason pick, both had plenty of reasons to claim No. 1.
"There are some similarities, but that North Carolina team had been through a lot more experiences than our guys have," Self said. "The North Carolina team had been through Final Fours, had been to Elite Eights, had had some heartache, been through some tough times. I don't know that this group has been through tough times like they had. The fact we return nine guys and a good recruiting class is the reason people are so optimistic about us."
Butler was 11th in the poll followed by Connecticut, California, Washington, Michigan, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Mississippi State, Louisville and Georgetown. The last five ranked teams were Dayton, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Clemson and Minnesota.
Kentucky, under new coach John Calipari and with a loaded freshman class, Georgetown and Georgia Tech were the only teams in the preseason poll not to play in the NCAA tournament last season.
Texas, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee lead the 13 teams in the preseason poll who were not ranked in the final poll of last season. Louisville and North Carolina were Nos. 1 and 2 in that final poll. In addition to those two, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Duke and Connecticut all were ranked No. 1 at some point in the season.
The Big Ten has six teams in the preseason poll, one more than the Big East. The Atlantic Coast Conference had four and the Big 12 and Southeastern Conference three each.