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Stan Becton | | October 17, 2022

College basketball rankings: North Carolina, Gonzaga, Houston lead preseason AP Top 25 poll

Preseason men's college basketball AP poll instant analysis

The AP Top 25 preseason men's college basketball rankings were released Monday with North Carolina leading all teams headed into the 2022-23 season.

Here is the AP Top 25, along with some initial reactions and takeaways from the rankings:

AP Top 25 Poll: Preseason college basketball rankings



2021-22 RECORD


1 North Carolina (47) 29-10 1532
2 Gonzaga (12) 28-4 1479
3 Houston (1) 32-6 1404
4 Kentucky (2) 26-8 1364
T-5 Baylor 27-7 1200
T-5 Kansas 34-6 1200
7 Duke 32-7 1168
8 UCLA 27-8 1093
9 Creighton 23-12 1060
10 Arkansas 28-9 1026
11 Tennessee 27-8 880
12 Texas 22-12 844
13 Indiana 24-14 745
14 TCU 21-13 735
15 Auburn 28-6 623
16 Villanova 30-8 578
17 Arizona 33-4 543
18 Virginia 21-14 462
19 San Diego State 23-9 394
20 Alabama 19-14 281
21 Oregon 19-15 260
22 Michigan 19-15 229
23 Illinois 23-10 215
24 Dayton 24-11 170
25 Texas Tech 27-10 122

MORE RANKINGS: North Carolina is No. 1 in Andy Katz's Power 36 rankings

North Carolina is No. 1


North Carolina takes the top spot in the preseason poll after finishing as the runner-up in last season's title game. The Tar Heels are the preseason No. 1 for a record 10th time.

Head coach Hubert Davis enters his second year at the helm, and he'll have his star player Armando Bacot back with him. Bacot is coming off a dominant postseason run, ending the season with eight straight double-doubles, including six in the NCAA tournament. With Bacot and four returning starters leading the way, AP voters think North Carolina looks ready for another deep tournament run.

RETURNING PLAYERS: The top 25 returning men's basketball players, ranked by Andy Katz

National player of the year candidates lead the top of the poll


For the first time since 2019, No. 2 Gonzaga is not atop the preseason AP poll. Yet, the Bulldogs remain one of the nation's best teams entering the year, especially with the return of All-American Drew Timme. Timme has long been one of the nation's elite players, scoring 1,521 points in his career. In 2022-23, he'll try to lead Gonzaga to its third consecutive No. 1 seed in the tournament.

No. 3 Houston opens the season with its highest preseason ranking since 1983 after falling short in last year's Elite Eight. The Cougars made a deep tournament run last year without star player Marcus Sasser who suffered a season-ending foot injury 12 games into the season. When last on the court, Sasser averaged 17.7 points per game. 

After unanimously winning national player of the year, Oscar Tshiebwe is the first award winner to return to school since North Carolina's Tyler Hansbrough did so in 2009. Tshiebwe's coming off a season with 25 double-doubles, and he's part of the reason No. 4 Kentucky enters the season in the top five. 

HIGH IMPACT COACHES: The men's college basketball coaches best at developing talent, ranked by Andy Katz

All Final Four teams aren't like the others


It's safe to say that the preseason AP poll reflects different expectations for last season's Final Four teams entering this season.

Defending national champion No. 5 Kansas enters the season tied for fifth with Big 12 rival Baylor. The Jayhawks return Jalen Wilson and receive an influx of talent from players like Gradey Dick, a sharpshooter.

Full final 3 minutes from Kansas' comeback title over UNC

No. 7 Duke finished last year in the Final Four in the final season for coach Mike Krzyzewski, who retired as the all-time winningest coach in DI men's basketball history. New head coach Jon Scheyer welcomes a top recruiting class featuring Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead. 

BIG-TIME: The 12 freshmen expected to have biggest impact for potential men's NCAA tournament teams

Meanwhile, No. 16 Villanova enters the year as the lowest-ranked Final Four team after hall of fame head coach Jay Wright retired this offseason. Kyle Neptune replaces Wright, and the newcomer will lead a Wildcats team with its lowest preseason ranking since 2008.

REPLACING COACH K: How Duke's new head coach Jon Scheyer is already impacting the program

Conference breakdown

Here's a breakdown of the preseason AP poll by conference:

Conference No. of Teams ranked
Big 12, SEC 5
ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 3
Big East 2
A10, AAC, Mountain West, WCC 1

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