BOZICH | Comparing my AP college hoops ballot to the pre-season Top 25
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The first Associated Press college basketball poll was released Monday afternoon.
The poll has a Tobacco Road flavor with three teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference (North Carolina, Duke and Virginia) ranked in the top six.
Kentucky will start the season ranked second, behind North Carolina. Indiana arrives ranked 15th. Louisville received votes, but not enough to make the Top 25. The Cardinals are No. 32.
As one of the 65 voters in the poll, I track all the rankings and pre-season magazines.
The first ballot is always the toughest. You’re relying on results from last season, recruiting rankings and coaching gossip to make your list.
Sounds like a perfect time to compare my pre-season ballot with how the reams were actually ranked by the 65 voters. I included 22 of the top 25 on my ballot, placing five in the same spot they earned on the pre-season poll.
I’ll present the teams in the order that I ranked them. Their national rankings and 2015 final records will be in parentheses.
1. North Carolina (1, 26-12) – Not everybody believes in the Tar Heels because they lost a dozen games last season. But they earned 35 first-place votes.
2. Kentucky (2, 38-1) – The Tyler Ulis Show is ready for launch. I also hope to see more of Marcus Lee. He's usually good for several highlight clips per game.
3. Maryland (3, 28-7) – The Terps are counting on two high-profile transfers Rasheed Sulaimon (Duke) and Robert Carter (Georgia Tech).
4. Duke (5, 35-4) – Are Coach K’s freshmen better than John Calipari’s freshmen? Stay tuned.
5. Kansas (4, 27-9) – The Jayhawks are headed to Maui, where they could line up against Indiana.
6. Virginia (6, 30-4) – The Cavaliers are strong enough that somebody gave them a first-place vote.
7. Gonzaga (9, 25-9) – Kyle Wiltjer is one of the frontrunners for national player of the year, something nobody would have predicted during his two seasons at Kentucky.
8. Iowa State (7, 25-9) – In case you’ve forgotten, former Murray State coach Steve Prohm has replaced Fred Hoiberg.
9. Villanova (11, 33-3) – Jay Wright has his usual collection of shooters.
10. Michigan State (13, 27-12) – Keep an eye on how Eron Harris, a transfer from West Virginia, adjusts to Tom Izzo's style
11. Oklahoma (8, 24-11) – Take the time to watch OU guard Buddy Hield. He’s legit.
12. Purdue (23, 21-13) – Don’t sleep on the Boilermakers. They’re huge and have four starters back from a team that went 9-3 down the stretch in the Big Ten.
13. Arizona (12, 34-4) – Might too high. The Wildcats lost a lot of talent.
14. Wichita State (10 30-5) – If you believe that Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet are the best pair of guards in the country, I won’t argue.
15. UConn (20, 20-15) – Rodney Purvis, once a Louisville commit, has now bounced into Kevin Ollie’s program.
16. Indiana (15, 20-14) – Time for the Hoosiers to show they’re committed to guarding.
17. Utah (16, 26-9) – Jakob Poeltl, the Utes’ center, will be a first-round NBA pick.
18. Vanderbilt (18, 21-14) – Damian Jones, Vandy’s center, will also be a first-round NBA pick.
19. LSU (21, (22-11) – Ben Simmons, the Tigers’ freshman wing, will be the first pick in the 2016 NBA Draft.
20. Notre Dame (19, 32-6) – Demetrius Jackson, Mike Brey’s point guard, and Zach Auguste give the Irish a solid inside/outside blend.
21. Wisconsin (17, 36-4) – Bo Ryan lost more talent than most years, but I refuse to ignore the Badgers because of their coach.
22. Baylor (24, 24-10) – Scott Drew always has guys who can run, run, run.
23. Cincinnati (30, 23-11) – Mick Cronin returns most of the pieces that pushed Kentucky in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
24. Texas (36, 2014) – Goodbye, Rick Barnes. Hello, Shaka Smart.
25. Miami (31, 25-13) – I can’t believe people are overlooking the Hurricanes, who return their top four scorers.
Top 25 teams that I did not rank: California 14; Butler 24; Michigan 25.
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