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First Forecast

BOZICH | Are U of L, UK, IU hoops top-25 worthy?

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Mack and Calipari

Chris Mack of Louisville (left) and John Calipari of Kentucky are both coaching teams that have lost three of their last four games. WDRB Photo/Eric Crawford

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The deadline for ballots in the Associated Press college basketball preseason poll is Oct. 14. The results will be released four days later, along with a five-player all-American team.

I plan to disappear into research mode this weekend.

A year ago, the AP voters picked Gonzaga No. 1 and Baylor No. 2, and the Bears defeated the Zags in the national final. Take a bow. Houston (No. 17) and UCLA (No. 22) also made the preseason list as well as the Final Four.

Of course, Duke and Kentucky were preseason squads No. 9 and No. 10. Neither made the tournament. Ooops.

Neither did Indiana (No. 30) or Louisville (No. 31).

Next question: Will Kentucky extend its streak of opening the season ranked in the AP Top 10 to 11 consecutive years?

My prediction is yes.

BlueRibbon College Basketball Yearbook ranked the Wildcats No. 7 in the nation, tops in the Southeastern Conference. Lindy’s sprayed some disrespect at John Calipari’s team. It ranked UK at No. 15 nationally, behind Tennessee (12) and Auburn (10) in the SEC. Athlon broke the tie by ranking the Wildcats No. 9, one spot ahead of surging Arkansas in the SEC.

By mid-December, Bellarmine coach Scott Davenport will know if the magazines have everything correct.

Gonzaga is preseason No. 1 in Blue Ribbon, Athlon and Lindy’s. The Knights will play the Zags in Spokane Nov. 19.

UCLA is preseason No. 2 in Blue Ribbon, Athlon and Lindy’s. The Knights will play Mick Cronin’s team in Las Vegas on Nov. 22.

Purdue is No. 5 in Lindy’s, No. 9 in Blue Ribbon and No. 11 in Athlon. Bellarmine opens against the Boilermakers in Mackey Arena Nov. 9. Expect my call on Nov. 23, Coach Davenport.

According to those three publications, these are the consensus top-10 teams: Gonzaga, UCLA, Kansas, Texas, Villanova, Michigan and Duke.

What is the outlook for Chris Mack’s third Louisville team?

Lindy’s put the Cards fifth in the Atlantic Coast Conference, Athlon dropped them to sixth and Blue Ribbon said seventh. All three publications have the usuals — Duke, Florida State, North Carolina and Virginia — ranked ahead of the Cardinals.

I mean no disrespect toward Virginia Tech, but, like last season, this does not look like a vintage season for the ACC.

Two of the three publications picked Hokies forward Keve Aluma as the ACC preseason player of the year. He’s a fine player, a possible double-double guy. But the ACC player of the year is supposed to be a guy like Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner, J.J. Redick, Vince Carter, Tyler Hansbrough, Tim Duncan or Zion Williamson, not a somebody who played the first two seasons of his career at Wofford.

In the SEC, Kentucky is the pick to win the league by Blue Ribbon and Athlon. Lindy’s is not a believer, putting the Wildcats third, behind Auburn.

Lindy’s piled on by not ranking any of Calipari’s players among the top 10 in the SEC. There is the bulletin board material for Rupp Arena. Blue Ribbon disagreed. It put Sahvir Wheeler, the point guard who transferred from Georgia, among the league’s top-six guys. Athlon put the Cats’ Kellan Grady on its SEC first team and freshman Tyty Washington on the third team.

What about Indiana? Will the Hoosiers end their endless NCAA Tournament drought?

The publications believe they will. Athlon and Lindy’s have Mike Woodson’s team in the field, an achievement Archie Miller failed to deliver in four seasons in Bloomington. All three rank the Hoosiers seventh in the Big Ten, a league Purdue and Michigan are expected to dominate.

Blue Ribbon picked IU’s Trayce Jackson-Davis a second-team all-American. Athlon put Jackson-Davis on its first team. Lindy’s excluded him from its top three teams.

Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, left, blocks a shot

Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, left, blocks a shot by Northwestern forward Pete Nance during overtime of an NCAA college basketball game in Evanston, Ill., Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021. Indiana won 79-76 in double- overtime. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Somebody explain. Jackson-Davis will definitely be a player I consider for AP’s first team. He’s going to average a double-double.

The magazines also made their calls on Western Kentucky and Bellarmine.

Davenport’s team earned third place in the ASun West Division from Blue Ribbon and Athlon while Lindy’s knocked the Knights down to fourth.

If you really want to be confused, check the forecast for Rick Stansbury and the Hilltoppers.

They are first in the East Division of Conference USA at Athlon and second (behind Marshall) in Blue Ribbon. Lindy’s meanwhile, ranked WKU as only the eighth-best team overall in that league.

Better get back to my research.

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