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Daniel Wilco | NCAA.com | October 21, 2019

How the AP preseason college basketball poll predicts success

7 college basketball freshmen who could make headlines this season

The AP men's college basketball preseason poll is here and it has Michigan State at No. 1 for the first time in school history. Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Louisville round out the top 5. Check out the full poll below: 

RANK

TEAM

POINTS

2018-19 FINAL RECORD

1 Michigan State (60) 1,619 32-7
2 Kentucky (2) 1,497 30-7
3 Kansas (3) 1,457 26-10
4 Duke 1,399 32-6
5 Louisville 1,386 20-14
6 Florida 1,313 20-16
7 Maryland 1,134 23-11
8 Gonzaga 1,096 33-4
9 North Carolina 1,060 29-7
10 Villanova 1,048 26-10
11 Virginia 1,007 35-3
12 Seton Hall 863 20-14
13 Texas Tech 837 31-7
14 Memphis 773 22-14
15 Oregon 742 25-13
16 Baylor 523 20-14
17 Utah State 491 28-7
18 Ohio State 407 20-15
19 Xavier 356 19-16
20 Saint Mary's (Cal) 330 22-12
21 Arizona 265 17-15
22 LSU 234 28-7
23 Purdue 230 26-10
24 Auburn 210 30-10
25 VCU 193 25-8

The release of the first AP poll of the season is always exciting, but is it a good indicator of how the basketball regular season will actually go?

We can answer this by looking at how well the preseason poll has lined up historically with the final AP poll of the season, which comes out in mid-March, before the NCAA tournament starts.

A team's fortune can change quite a bit in that time frame, but from our research of historical rankings from 2000 to 2019, the preseason poll is good prediction of how the regular season will play out.

College basketball rankings: Michigan State leads Andy Katz's preseason Power 36

Since the turn of the century, 501 teams have been ranked in the preseason Top 25. Of those, 314 were ranked at the end of the regular season. That’s 62.7 percent. Not a terrible mark.

But it gets better when you look at the top teams. If a team is ranked in the Top 10 to start the year, it’s close to a virtual lock that they’ll be ranked in the final poll, which is released prior to the NCAA tournament. Of the 200 teams ranked in the preseason Top 10 since 2000, 165 finished in the Top 25 — a strong 82.5 percent.

Of course, there are some outliers here. This century, 35 teams have started the season in the Top 10 and finished the regular season unranked. Ten of those were even more drastic, as they began the year in the Top 5.

Year Team Preseason Rank Final Rank Record
2014 Kentucky 1 NR 29-11
2011 Michigan State 2 NR 19-15
2013 Kentucky 3 NR 21-12
2010 Texas 3 NR 24-10
2004 Michigan State 3 NR 18-12
2012 Connecticut 4 NR 20-14
2006 Michigan State 4 NR 22-12
2007 Louisiana State 5 NR 17-15
2004 Missouri 5 NR 16-14
2002 UCLA 5 NR 21-12

Michigan State is one of five teams (along with Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, and North Carolina) to have been ranked in the Top 5 of the AP preseason poll, doing so eight times since 2000. However, they're the only team this century to have fallen three times from preseason Top 5 to unranked in the final poll.

Kentucky’s 2014 squad holds a distinction in this category as well, as the only team since 2000 to start the regular season No. 1 and end it unranked. The 2014 Wildcats went 29-11 on the year, earning an 8 seed in the NCAA tournament. But there, they picked up steam, winning five straight games before losing to 7-seed UConn in the championship game, 60-54.

TEAM OF THE DECADE: Vote for the best teams this past decade

But there’s a brighter side to this story as well. 

Six teams since 2000 have made an extremely impressive journey, starting the season unranked and finishing the regular season in the Top 5.

Year Team Preseason rank Final Rank Record
2018 Virginia NR 1 31-3
2010 Syracuse NR 4 30-5
2013 Miami (FL) NR 5 29-7
2012 Michigan State NR 5 29-8
2011 Notre Dame NR 5 27-7
2002 Cincinnati NR 5 31-4

Four of those teams ended up as 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament, and the other two as two seeds — a mighty accomplishment for teams that started the season outside of the Top 25. But none of the six made it to the Elite Eight.

Six teams since 2000 have been on the other side of the coin as well, starting in the preseason Top 5 and finishing unranked. 

So, if your team appears in the Top 10 of the first poll in October, you can be fairly confident the regular season won’t be a bust. But — as history has proven — if they’re outside the Top 25, there’s always a chance.

BEST PLAYERS: Andy Katz's Top 25 for next season

If you want to take a look at past results yourself, here is a table of every team since 2000 that has started the season ranked, and where they ended up in the final AP poll:

Year Team Preseason Rank Final Rank
2019 Kansas 1 17
2019 Kentucky 2 7
2019 Duke 3 1
2019 Gonzaga 4 3
2019 Virginia 5 2
2019 Tennessee 6 5
2019 North Carolina 7 4
2019 Villanova 8 22
2019 Nevada 9 20
2019 Michigan State 10 6
2019 Kansas State 11 14
2019 Auburn 12 18
2019 West Virginia 13 NR
2019 Syracuse 14 NR
2019 Florida State 15 11
2019 Oregon 16 NR
2019 Virginia Tech 17 15
2019 Michigan 18 8
2019 Mississippi State 19 NR
2019 UCLA 20 NR
2019 Texas Christian 21 NR
2019 Purdue 22 13
2019 Clemson 23 NR
2019 Washington 24 NR
2019 Nebraska 25 NR
2018 Duke 1 9
2018 Michigan State 2 5
2018 Arizona 3 12
2018 Kansas 4 4
2018 Kentucky 5 18
2018 Villanova 6 2
2018 Wichita State 7 16
2018 Florida 8 23
2018 North Carolina 9 10
2018 Southern California 10 NR
2018 West Virginia 11 15
2018 Cincinnati 12 6
2018 Miami (FL) 13 22
2018 Notre Dame 14 NR
2018 Minnesota 15 NR
2018 Louisville 16 NR
2018 Xavier 17 3
2018 Gonzaga 18 8
2018 Northwestern 19 NR
2018 Purdue 20 11
2018 UCLA 21 NR
2018 Saint Mary's (CA) 22 25
2018 Seton Hall 23 NR
2018 Baylor 24 NR
2018 Texas A&M 25 NR
2017 Duke 1 7
2017 Kentucky 2 5
2017 Kansas 3 3
2017 Villanova 4 1
2017 Oregon 5 9
2017 North Carolina 6 6
2017 Xavier 7 NR
2017 Virginia 8 24
2017 Wisconsin 9 25
2017 Arizona 10 4
2017 Indiana 11 NR
2017 Michigan State 12 NR
2017 Louisville 13 10
2017 Gonzaga 14 2
2017 Purdue 15 15
2017 UCLA 16 8
2017 Saint Mary's (CA) 17 22
2017 Connecticut 18 NR
2017 Syracuse 19 NR
2017 West Virginia 20 13
2017 Texas 21 NR
2017 Creighton 22 NR
2017 Rhode Island 23 NR
2017 Iowa State 24 16
2017 Maryland 25 NR
2016 Kentucky 1 16
2016 North Carolina 1 2
2016 Maryland 3 13
2016 Duke 4 18
2016 Kansas 5 3
2016 Virginia 6 5
2016 Iowa State 7 15
2016 Oklahoma 8 4
2016 Villanova 9 1
2016 Arizona 10 22
2016 Gonzaga 11 21
2016 Wichita State 12 NR
2016 Michigan State 13 7
2016 University of California 14 NR
2016 Indiana 15 9
2016 Utah 16 20
2016 Wisconsin 17 23
2016 Notre Dame 18 17
2016 Louisiana State 19 NR
2016 Vanderbilt 20 NR
2016 Baylor 21 24
2016 Butler 22 NR
2016 West Virginia 23 14
2016 Purdue 24 19
2016 Connecticut 24 NR
2015 Kentucky 1 1
2015 Arizona 2 5
2015 Wisconsin 3 3
2015 Duke 4 4
2015 Kansas 5 10
2015 North Carolina 6 15
2015 Florida 7 NR
2015 Louisville 8 17
2015 Virginia 9 6
2015 Texas 10 NR
2015 Wichita State 11 14
2015 Villanova 12 2
2015 Gonzaga 13 7
2015 Iowa State 14 9
2015 Virginia Commonwealth 15 25
2015 San Diego State 16 NR
2015 Connecticut 17 NR
2015 Michigan State 18 23
2015 Oklahoma 19 13
2015 Ohio State 20 NR
2015 Nebraska 21 NR
2015 Southern Methodist 22 18
2015 Syracuse 23 NR
2015 Michigan 24 NR
2015 Harvard 25 NR
2015 Utah 25 19
2014 Kentucky 1 NR
2014 Michigan State 2 11
2014 Louisville 3 5
2014 Duke 4 8
2014 Kansas 5 10
2014 Arizona 6 4
2014 Michigan 7 7
2014 Syracuse 8 14
2014 Oklahoma State 9 NR
2014 Florida 10 1
2014 Ohio State 11 22
2014 North Carolina 12 19
2014 Memphis 13 NR
2014 Virginia Commonwealth 14 24
2014 Gonzaga 15 NR
2014 Wichita State 16 2
2014 Marquette 17 NR
2014 Connecticut 18 18
2014 Oregon 19 NR
2014 Wisconsin 20 12
2014 Notre Dame 21 NR
2014 UCLA 22 20
2014 New Mexico 23 17
2014 Virginia 24 3
2014 Baylor 25 23
2013 Indiana 1 4
2013 Louisville 2 2
2013 Kentucky 3 NR
2013 Ohio State 4 7
2013 Michigan 5 10
2013 North Carolina State 6 NR
2013 Kansas 7 3
2013 Duke 8 6
2013 Syracuse 9 16
2013 Florida 10 14
2013 North Carolina 11 NR
2013 Arizona 12 21
2013 UCLA 13 24
2013 Michigan State 14 9
2013 Missouri 15 NR
2013 Creighton 16 22
2013 Memphis 17 19
2013 Nevada-Las Vegas 18 NR
2013 Baylor 19 NR
2013 San Diego State 20 NR
2013 Gonzaga 21 1
2013 Notre Dame 22 23
2013 Wisconsin 23 18
2013 Cincinnati 24 NR
2013 Florida State 25 NR
2012 North Carolina 1 4
2012 Kentucky 2 1
2012 Ohio State 3 7
2012 Connecticut 4 NR
2012 Syracuse 5 2
2012 Duke 6 8
2012 Vanderbilt 7 20
2012 Florida 8 25
2012 Louisville 9 17
2012 Pittsburgh 10 NR
2012 Memphis 11 NR
2012 Baylor 12 9
2012 Kansas 13 6
2012 Xavier 14 NR
2012 Wisconsin 15 14
2012 Arizona 16 NR
2012 UCLA 17 NR
2012 Michigan 18 13
2012 Alabama 19 NR
2012 Texas A&M 20 NR
2012 Cincinnati 21 NR
2012 Marquette 22 11
2012 Gonzaga 23 NR
2012 University of California 24 NR
2012 Missouri 25 3
2011 Duke 1 3
2011 Michigan State 2 NR
2011 Kansas State 3 21
2011 Ohio State 4 1
2011 Pittsburgh 5 4
2011 Villanova 6 NR
2011 Kansas 7 2
2011 North Carolina 8 7
2011 Florida 9 15
2011 Syracuse 10 12
2011 Kentucky 11 11
2011 Gonzaga 12 NR
2011 Illinois 13 NR
2011 Purdue 14 13
2011 Missouri 15 NR
2011 Baylor 16 NR
2011 Butler 17 NR
2011 Washington 18 23
2011 Memphis 19 NR
2011 Georgetown 20 NR
2011 Virginia Tech 21 NR
2011 Temple 22 NR
2011 Tennessee 23 NR
2011 Brigham Young 24 10
2011 San Diego State 25 6
2010 Kansas 1 1
2010 Michigan State 2 13
2010 Texas 3 NR
2010 Kentucky 4 2
2010 Villanova 5 9
2010 North Carolina 6 NR
2010 Purdue 7 10
2010 West Virginia 8 6
2010 Duke 9 3
2010 Tennessee 10 15
2010 Butler 11 11
2010 Connecticut 12 NR
2010 University of California 13 NR
2010 Washington 14 NR
2010 Michigan 15 NR
2010 Ohio State 16 5
2010 Oklahoma 17 NR
2010 Mississippi State 18 NR
2010 Louisville 19 NR
2010 Georgetown 20 14
2010 Dayton 21 NR
2010 Georgia Tech 22 NR
2010 Illinois 23 NR
2010 Clemson 24 NR
2010 Minnesota 25 NR
2009 North Carolina 1 2
2009 Connecticut 2 5
2009 Louisville 3 1
2009 UCLA 4 18
2009 Pittsburgh 5 4
2009 Michigan State 6 8
2009 Texas 7 NR
2009 Duke 8 6
2009 Notre Dame 9 NR
2009 Gonzaga 10 10
2009 Purdue 11 17
2009 Oklahoma 12 7
2009 Memphis 13 3
2009 Tennessee 14 NR
2009 Arizona State 15 19
2009 Marquette 16 23
2009 Miami (FL) 17 NR
2009 Southern California 18 NR
2009 Florida 19 NR
2009 Davidson 20 NR
2009 Wake Forest 21 12
2009 Georgetown 22 NR
2009 Villanova 23 11
2009 Kansas 24 14
2009 Wisconsin 25 NR
2008 North Carolina 1 1
2008 UCLA 2 3
2008 Memphis 3 2
2008 Kansas 4 4
2008 Georgetown 5 8
2008 Louisville 6 13
2008 Tennessee 7 5
2008 Michigan State 8 18
2008 Indiana 9 NR
2008 Washington State 10 21
2008 Marquette 11 25
2008 Oregon 12 NR
2008 Duke 13 9
2008 Gonzaga 14 24
2008 Texas 15 7
2008 Texas A&M 16 NR
2008 Arizona 17 NR
2008 Southern California 18 NR
2008 Arkansas 19 NR
2008 Kentucky 20 NR
2008 North Carolina State 21 NR
2008 Pittsburgh 22 17
2008 Stanford 23 10
2008 Southern Illinois 24 NR
2008 Kansas State 25 NR
2007 Florida 1 3
2007 North Carolina 2 4
2007 Kansas 3 2
2007 Pittsburgh 4 12
2007 Louisiana State 5 NR
2007 UCLA 6 7
2007 Ohio State 7 1
2007 Georgetown 8 8
2007 Wisconsin 9 6
2007 Arizona 10 NR
2007 Alabama 11 NR
2007 Duke 12 NR
2007 Texas A&M 13 9
2007 Memphis 14 5
2007 Boston College 15 NR
2007 Marquette 16 20
2007 Washington 17 NR
2007 Connecticut 18 NR
2007 Creighton 19 NR
2007 Syracuse 20 NR
2007 Texas 21 11
2007 Kentucky 22 NR
2007 Georgia Tech 23 NR
2007 Nevada 24 15
2007 Tennessee 25 25
2006 Duke 1 1
2006 Texas 2 9
2006 Connecticut 3 2
2006 Michigan State 4 NR
2006 Villanova 5 3
2006 Oklahoma 6 24
2006 Louisville 7 NR
2006 Gonzaga 8 5
2006 Kentucky 9 NR
2006 Arizona 10 NR
2006 Boston College 11 7
2006 Memphis 12 4
2006 Stanford 13 NR
2006 West Virginia 14 22
2006 Alabama 15 NR
2006 Syracuse 16 21
2006 Illinois 17 13
2006 Wake Forest 18 NR
2006 UCLA 19 7
2006 Iowa 20 15
2006 George Washington 21 14
2006 Nevada 22 20
2006 Maryland 23 NR
2006 Indiana 24 NR
2006 Iowa State 25 NR
2005 Kansas 1 12
2005 Wake Forest 2 5
2005 Georgia Tech 3 25
2005 North Carolina 4 2
2005 Illinois 5 1
2005 Syracuse 6 11
2005 Oklahoma State 7 6
2005 Connecticut 8 13
2005 Kentucky 9 7
2005 Arizona 10 9
2005 Duke 11 3
2005 Mississippi State 12 NR
2005 Michigan State 13 15
2005 Louisville 14 4
2005 Maryland 15 NR
2005 Texas 16 NR
2005 Pittsburgh 17 NR
2005 Alabama 18 21
2005 North Carolina State 19 NR
2005 Notre Dame 20 NR
2005 Wisconsin 21 20
2005 Washington 22 8
2005 Florida 23 16
2005 Memphis 24 NR
2005 Gonzaga 25 10
2004 Connecticut 1 7
2004 Duke 2 6
2004 Michigan State 3 NR
2004 Arizona 4 22
2004 Missouri 5 NR
2004 Kansas 6 16
2004 Syracuse 7 20
2004 Florida 8 NR
2004 North Carolina 9 18
2004 Gonzaga 10 3
2004 Kentucky 11 2
2004 Texas 12 12
2004 Illinois 13 13
2004 Oklahoma 14 NR
2004 Wisconsin 15 10
2004 Louisville 16 NR
2004 Saint Joseph's 17 5
2004 Cincinnati 18 11
2004 Stanford 19 1
2004 Wake Forest 20 17
2004 Notre Dame 21 NR
2004 Pittsburgh 22 9
2004 Marquette 23 NR
2004 North Carolina State 24 15
2004 Oklahoma State 25 4
2003 Arizona 1 2
2003 Kansas 2 6
2003 Oklahoma 3 3
2003 Texas 4 5
2003 Pittsburgh 5 4
2003 Duke 6 7
2003 Florida 7 10
2003 Alabama 8 NR
2003 Michigan State 9 NR
2003 Xavier 10 12
2003 Oregon 11 NR
2003 Mississippi State 12 20
2003 Maryland 13 17
2003 UCLA 14 NR
2003 Connecticut 15 23
2003 Georgia 16 25
2003 Kentucky 17 1
2003 Marquette 18 9
2003 Missouri 19 24
2003 Western Kentucky 20 NR
2003 Indiana 21 NR
2003 Gonzaga 22 NR
2003 Cincinnati 23 NR
2003 Minnesota 24 NR
2003 Tulsa 25 NR
2002 Duke 1 1
2002 Maryland 2 4
2002 Illinois 3 13
2002 Kentucky 4 16
2002 UCLA 5 NR
2002 Florida 6 15
2002 Kansas 7 2
2002 Missouri 8 NR
2002 Iowa 9 NR
2002 Saint Joseph's 10 NR
2002 Virginia 11 NR
2002 Memphis 12 NR
2002 Stanford 13 24
2002 Georgetown 14 NR
2002 Michigan State 15 NR
2002 Temple 16 NR
2002 Boston College 17 NR
2002 Oklahoma State 18 20
2002 North Carolina 19 NR
2002 Southern California 20 18
2002 Syracuse 21 NR
2002 Indiana 22 NR
2002 Texas 23 NR
2002 Alabama 24 8
2002 Oklahoma 25 3
2001 Arizona 1 5
2001 Duke 2 1
2001 Michigan State 3 3
2001 Stanford 4 2
2001 Maryland 5 11
2001 North Carolina 6 6
2001 Kansas 7 12
2001 Illinois 8 4
2001 Tennessee 9 NR
2001 Seton Hall 10 NR
2001 Florida 11 8
2001 Kentucky 12 9
2001 Utah 13 NR
2001 Connecticut 14 NR
2001 Notre Dame 15 19
2001 Arkansas 15 NR
2001 UCLA 17 15
2001 Cincinnati 18 NR
2001 Wisconsin 19 25
2001 Wake Forest 20 23
2001 DePaul 21 NR
2001 Oklahoma 22 13
2001 Southern California 23 NR
2001 Virginia 24 16
2001 Iowa State 25 10
2000 Connecticut 1 20
2000 Cincinnati 2 7
2000 Michigan State 3 2
2000 Auburn 4 24
2000 Ohio State 5 8
2000 North Carolina 6 NR
2000 Temple 7 5
2000 Florida 8 13
2000 Arizona 9 4
2000 Duke 10 1
2000 Kansas 11 NR
2000 UCLA 12 NR
2000 Stanford 13 3
2000 Kentucky 14 19
2000 Utah 15 NR
2000 Illinois 16 21
2000 Syracuse 17 16
2000 St. John's (NY) 18 9
2000 Tennessee 19 11
2000 DePaul 20 NR
2000 Texas 21 15
2000 Oklahoma State 22 14
2000 Purdue 23 25
2000 Gonzaga 24 NR
2000 Miami (FL) 25 23

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