Freshman Julius Randle is one reason Kentucky will be ranked first on many AP college basketball poll ballots. (Photo courtesy UK Athletics.)
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Associated Press pre-season college basketball poll arrives Thursday. My ballot, one of 65, was due last week.
Here is your head start. I'm giving you a sneak preview of my Top 25. One, two, three – start picking it apart. Which team did I miss? Which teams should be knocked down a few spots? Speak now.
1. Kentucky – The 2014 Wildcats have three qualities the 2013 Wildcats lacked. Depth. Upperclassmen. Multiple NBA lottery picks.
2. Michigan State – The Big Ten hasn't won a national title since 2000. Gary Harris and Adreian Payne returned to help Tom Izzo change that.
3. Duke – Some people like Andrew Wiggins of Kansas as the best freshman in the nation. Others say Julius Randle of Kentucky. Mike Krzyzewski prefers his guy, Jabari Parker.
4. Kansas – Wiggins has already made the cover of Sports Illustrated. It won't be the last time you'll see him there.
5. Louisville – I planned to start the Cardinals on top. Then Rick Pitino suspended Chane Behanan indefinitely several days before the ballots were due and the mystery around Luke Hancock's injury lingered.
6. Arizona – Best in the West, and it isn't close, especially with Aaron Gordon on the scene.
7. Florida – A veteran (Patric Young), a freshman (Kasey Hill) and a transfer (Dorian Finney-Smith) make it happen for the Gators who keep stalling in the Elite Eight.
8. Syracuse – The Orange could start slowly with a young backcourt, but you won't want to play them in March.
9. Ohio State – Some people say losing Deshaun Thomas will hurt the Buckeyes. I say he shot too much and stopped the ball from moving.
10. North Carolina – There's a lot of background noise in Chapel Hill, but don't make the mistake of thinking there isn't enough talent.
11. Michigan – Too low? I don't think so. Nobody in the country meant more to his team last season than Trey Burke.
12. Oklahoma State – The college basketball gurus say Marcus Smart is the most valuable player in the country. I say he's a 40 percent shooter (29 percent from the three-point line) who can really defend.
13. Memphis – Guards, lots and lots of guards will drive the Tigers.
14. Marquette – When you play the Golden Eagles you won't find any lottery picks or easy baskets.
15. Gonzaga – Somebody said the Zags were the top seed in the 2013 tournament. They won't be this year.
16. UConn – I don't remember if Shabazz Napier came in with Kemba Walker, Ben Gordon or Rip Hamilton, but he's been there a long, long time.
17. Wichita State – The surprise factor is gone for the Shockers. But that's OK. They're talented and well-coached.
18. VCU – Shaka Smart really loves his team. You have been warned.
19. Notre Dame – The Irish have Top 10 guards, but lack a Top 10 frontcourt.
20. Wisconsin – You're ignoring the evidence of the last decade if you overlook Bo Ryan's team in your top 25. I won't make that mistake.
21. Oregon – Dana Altman already had a nice club, but adding Joseph Young (transfer who averaged 18 per game at Houston) made the Ducks a team to watch.
22. UCLA – Ben Howland left Steve Alford enough pieces to win.
23. Tennessee – Three SEC teams in the Top 25, and it isn't even football.
24. Iowa – The Hawkeyes should have been in the NCAA Tournament last season, but with everybody back they're a top 15 threat this season.
25. New Mexico – Steve Alford left Craig Neal enough pieces to win.
WDRB Sports journalist Rick Bozich has been a sports columnist in Louisville for three decades, is a member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, and, for some crazy reason, was immortalized as the namesake of a character in the long-running comic strip Gil Thorp. Follow Rick on Twitter by clicking here or on Facebook here.