Bulldogs First Team To Receive Votes

Oct. 28, 2004

McLEAN, Va. - With three of its top four scorers returning for their senior seasons, Kansas figures to be in the mix for the NCAA championship. So do a handful of other teams.

By a very slim margin, the Jayhawks are atop the ESPN/USA TODAY preseason coaches' poll released Thursday night. Eight teams received first-place votes.

Gonzaga was the first team among those receiving votes with 58 points. The Bulldogs, 28-3 a year ago and 12th in the final ESPN/USA TODAY balloting, lost five seniors to graduation including two-time West Coast Conference Player of the Year Blake Stepp.

But with senior Ronny Turiaf, and a pair of WCC All-Freshman Team performers from a year ago in Adam Morrison and Sean Mallon, the Bulldogs again seem ready to make a run for a seventh straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

With bruising forward Wayne Simien, versatile Keith Langford and speedy point guard Aaron Miles all back, Kansas (24-9 last season) received eight of a possible 30 first-place votes and 741 points in a ballot of Division I coaches.

Despite collecting four more first-place votes than Kansas, Wake Forest (21-10) is second with 724 points. The Demon Deacons lead an Atlantic Coast Conference contingent of three teams ranked in the top four.

A young team on the rise behind second-year coach Roy Williams, North Carolina (19-11) received six first-place votes and 697 points.

After its surprising run to the 2004 NCAA title game, Georgia Tech (28-10) received one first place-vote and 604 points.

Illinois (26-7) is fifth with one first-place vote and 598 points. Syracuse (23-8) is sixth with 557 points.

Defending champion Connecticut (33-6) slipped to seventh with 541 points after the departure of NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player Emeka Okafor and guard Ben Gordon.

Fresh off a Final Four appearance, Oklahoma State (31-4) is eighth with a first-place vote and 511 points. Kentucky (27-5) is ninth with 480 points, four more than Michigan State (18-12).

Beginning the second 10, Arizona (20-10) received one first-place vote and 475 points. Duke (31-6), which lost to UConn in the Final Four, is 12th with 403 points and Louisville (20-10) got the final first-place vote and is 13th with 374 points.

Mississippi State (26-4) is 14th and Texas (25-8), Maryland (20-12), Pittsburgh (31-5), Alabama (20-13), North Carolina State (21-10) and Wisconsin (25-7) round out the top 20.

At No. 21 is Notre Dame (19-13), the fourth Big East Conference school in the rankings. Florida (20-11), Memphis (22-8), Washington (19-12) and Stanford (30-2) complete the poll.

Gerogia Tech, Illilnois, Oklahoma State and Washington all dot the Gonzaga schedule this year.

Rank  School                2003-04 Record  Points  Final 2003-04 ranking
 1. Kansas (8)                   24-9         741            9
 2. Wake Forest (12)             21-10        724           15
 3. North Carolina (6)           19-11        697           22
 4. Georgia Tech (1)             28-10        604            3
 5. Illinois (1)                 26-7         598           11
 6. Syracuse                     23-8         557           19
 7. Connecticut                  33-6         541            1
 8. Oklahoma State (1)           31-4         511            4
 9. Kentucky                     27-5         480            8
10. Michigan State               18-12        476           NR
11. Arizona                      20-10        475           NR
12. Duke                         31-6         403            2
13. Louisville (1)               20-10        374           NR
14. Mississippi State            26-4         365           13
15. Texas                        25-8         334           10
16. Maryland                     20-12        316           24
17. Pittsburgh                   31-5         247            7
18. Alabama                      20-13        224           17
19. N.C. State                   21-10        218           20
20. Wisconsin                    25-7         216           16
21. Notre Dame                   19-13        214           NR
22. Florida                      20-11        160           NR
23. Memphis                      22-8         131           NR
24. Washington                   19-12        108           NR
25. Stanford                     30-2          64            6

Others receiving votes (with 2003-04 records): Gonzaga (28-3) 58; Cincinnati (25-7) 44; Michigan (23-11) 38; Providence (20-9) 37; Oklahoma (20-11) 34; Charlotte (21-9) 31; UAB (22-10) 11; UNLV (18-13) 9; Utah (24-9) 6; Pacific (25-8) 5; Southern Illinois (25-5) 4; DePaul (22-10) 3; Purdue (17-14) 3; Texas Tech (23-11) 3; Pepperdine (15-16) 2; Saint Joseph's (30-2) 2; Texas-El Paso (23-8) 2; Toledo (20-11) 2; Florida State (19-14) 1; Princeton (20-8) 1; Vanderbilt (23-10) 1.

The first regular-season poll will be released Monday, Nov. 22.

 

 

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