Bulldogs No. 11 In USA Today/ESPN Preseason Poll
Oct. 30, 2008
MCLEAN, Virginia (Ticker) -- As expected, the return of Tyler Hansbrough has set some lofty aspirations for North Carolina.
The Tar Heels were selected as the unanimous No. 1 for the preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll released Thursday.
Gonzaga University is 11th in the pre-season rankings, many prognosticators picking the Bulldogs to make a deep run in the NCAA Tournament in March. It's the second-highest pre-season ranking for the Bulldogs who were seventh in the 2005-06 preseason rankings.
Gonzaga opens the exhibition season Saturday at 5 p.m. against Wayne State College of Nebraska in a game that is sold out.
Armed with the return of the reigning national player of the year, North Carolina captured all 31 of the first-place votes and 775 points.
Choosing to spur the popular route of most top players of leaving school early, Hansbrough is back for a Tar Heels' squad that set a school record for wins during a 36-3 campaign but was left wanting more after a disappointing effort against Kansas in the national semifinals.
Along with the return of Hansbrough, North Carolina welcomes back quicksilver point guard Ty Lawson, sharpshooter Wayne Ellington and the energetic Danny Green to make it one of the top offensive teams heading into the season. The Tar Heels will open against Pennsylvania on November 15.
Leading a group of four Big East Conference teams in the top 10 is Connecticut, which is second with 707 points.
The Huskies are aiming for an improved season after finishing last year's 24-9 campaign out of the poll following a surprising loss to San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Louisville (27-9) is third, while Pittsburgh (27-10) is sixth and Notre Dame (25-8) ninth.
A Final Four team each of the previous three seasons, UCLA (35-4) is fourth despite a major exodus that included star freshman Kevin Love, athletic guard Russell Westbrook and defensive stalwart Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Duke (28-6) is fifth, ahead of Pittsburgh, Michigan State (27-9)
and Texas (31-7).
Purdue (25-9) rounds out the top 10, just in front of Gonzaga (25-8), which will be aiming to reach the NCAA Tournament for an 11th straight year.
National runner-up Memphis (38-2) is 12th, ahead of Tennessee (31-5), Oklahoma (23-12), Arizona State (21-13) and Miami (23-11).
Another of the seven Big East squads in the poll, Marquette (25-10) is 17th, while Georgetown (28-6) is one spot behind.
Florida (24-12) is 19th and Davidson (29-7), which is led by budding national player candidate Stephen Curry, is 20th.
Southern California (21-12) and Wisconsin (31-5) are tied for 21st.
Defending national champion Kansas (37-3), Wake Forest (17-13) and Villanova (22-13) round out the poll.
Dotting the Gonzaga schedule this year are UConn in The Battle in Seattle Dec. 20, MEmphis in the SPokane Arena Feb. 7 for College Game Day on ESPN and the Ronald McDonald House Charities event and Tennessee Jan. 7 in Knoxville. Tennessee, Michigan State and Georgetown also join the Bulldogs for the Old Spice Classic in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 27-30.
The USA TODAY/ESPN Coaches Top 25 college basketball coaches' poll, with number of first-place votes and record in parentheses, total points and previous ranking: (Records through October 30, 2008) TEAM PTS PVS ---- --- --- 1. NORTH CAROLINA (31) 775 3 2. CONNECTICUT 707 NR 3. LOUISVILLE 694 6 4. UCLA 650 4 5. DUKE 578 16 6. PITTSBURGH 576 18 7. MICHIGAN ST 572 13 8. TEXAS 538 5 9. NOTRE DAME 525 19 10. PURDUE 465 20 11. GONZAGA 437 NR 12. MEMPHIS 425 2 13. TENNESSEE 408 7 14. OKLAHOMA 387 NR 15. ARIZONA ST 304 NR 16. MIAMI FL 233 NR 17. MARQUETTE 219 21 18. GEORGETOWN 175 12 19. FLORIDA 161 NR 20. DAVIDSON 158 9 21. (tie) USC 153 NR 21. (tie) WISCONSIN 153 10 23. KANSAS 130 1 24. WAKE FOREST 129 NR 25. VILLANOVA 122 24 Dropped Out: No. 8 XAVIER, No. 11 STANFORD, No. 14 BUTLER, No. 15 WASHINGTON ST, No. 17 WEST VIRGINIA, No. 22 WKU, No. 23 DRAKE, No. 25 VANDERBILT Others Receiving Votes: UNLV 60, SAINT MARYS CA 59, OHIO ST 54, BAYLOR 47, XAVIER 27, SYRACUSE 23, LSU 19, TEXAS A&M 19, ARIZONA 18, VIRGINIA TECH 15, BYU 13, WEST VIRGINIA 10, SIENA 8, WASHINGTON 8, KENTUCKY 7, VANDERBILT 7, OKLAHOMA ST 4, CLEMSON 2, WASHINGTON ST 1.
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