Bulldogs 22nd In Associated Press Preseason Top 25

Nov 11, 2002

By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer

With five returning starters, Arizona was No. 1 in The Associated Press preseason poll Monday for the third time in six years.

Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas - all of the Big 12 - held the next three spots in the poll, the third time one conference has had that many teams in the preseason top five.

Gonzaga, sixth in last year's final AP poll, starts this season 22nd sandwiched between Indiana and Cincinnati.

Arizona, seventh in last season's final poll before reaching the NCAA tournament's round of 16, received 50 first-places votes and 1,773 points from the national media panel.

The Wildcats, who play at Kansas on Jan. 25, were the preseason No. 1 for the 1997-98 and 2000-01 seasons.

"We've never had the depth of athleticism that we have on this team," Arizona coach Lute Olson said, referring to the three seniors, five sophomores and four freshmen. "I think our teams have always been fun to watch, but this year we'll try to create even more havoc on the defensive end of the court. I think we go deep enough that we can do that at every position."

The ACC had the No. 1 and 2 teams in last year's preseason poll in Duke and Maryland, which went on to win it all. The last preseason No. 1 team to win the national championship was Kentucky in 1995-96.

Arizona seniors Jason Gardner, Luke Walton and Richard Anderson also began their sophomore seasons at No. 1.

"Just a couple of years ago we had the same expectations, so I'm used to all that," Walton said. "I don't think it's going to be an extra burden on this team. We're into just having fun and playing basketball as much as we can. We're not going to let the hype get to us."

Kansas had 14 No. 1 votes and 1,715 points, while Oklahoma had six first-place votes.

The Atlantic Coast Conference is the only other league to have three teams in the preseason top five. In 1973-74, North Carolina State was No. 2, Maryland No. 4 and North Carolina No. 5. In 1997-98, Duke, North Carolina and Clemson were third through fifth.

It is the 25th time since the first preseason poll, in 1961-62, that one conference has had at least two teams in the top five.

Kansas coach Roy Williams agreed that the three Big 12 teams are going to be good. He just didn't think the order was correct.

"I think we all have a chance to be very good," Williams said. "But those two, on paper ... you'd have to pick those guys above us."

Pittsburgh, which received one first-place vote, was No. 5 in the preseason poll, with Duke, Florida, Alabama, Michigan State and Xavier completing the top 10.

Duke finished No. 1 in last season's final poll for a record fourth straight year.

Oregon was 11th, followed by Mississippi State - the only other team to receive a first-place votes - Maryland, UCLA, Connecticut, Georgia, Kentucky, Marquette, Missouri and Western Kentucky.

The last five ranked teams were Indiana, Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Minnesota and Tulsa.

The Southeastern Conference had the most teams with five, ranging from No. 7 Florida to No. 17 Kentucky. The Big 12 was next with four, while the Pac-10 and Big Ten had three each.

Fourteen of last year's preseason Top 25 weren't in the final poll of the season, including No. 5 UCLA.

The first regular-season poll will be released Nov. 18.

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' men's preseason college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, 2001-02 records, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and last season's final ranking:

                         Record  Pts   Pv 
 1. Arizona (50)          22-10 1,773   7
 2. Kansas (14)            33-4 1,715   2
 3. Oklahoma (6)           31-5 1,640   3
 4. Texas                 22-12 1,422   -
 5. Pittsburgh (1)         27-5 1,404   9
 6. Duke                   31-4 1,394   1
 7. Florida                21-8 1,298  15
 8. Alabama                27-8 1,295   8
 9. Michigan St.          17-12 1,117   -
10. Xavier                 26-6 1,016  22
11. Oregon                 26-9   995  11
12. Mississippi St. (1)    24-7   800  17
13. Maryland               31-3   789   4
14. UCLA                  21-12   747   -
15. Connecticut            27-7   722  10
16. Georgia               22-10   703  23
17. Kentucky              22-10   627  16
18. Marquette              26-7   509  12
19. Missouri              24-12   506   -
20. W. Kentucky            28-4   480  19
21. Indiana               24-11   415   -
22. Gonzaga                29-4   381   6 
23. Cincinnati             27-4   303   5
24. Minnesota             18-13   183   -
25. Tulsa                  24-7   146   -

Others receiving votes: Virginia 120, Wisconsin 95, Villanova 92, Syracuse 79, Wyoming 61, Notre Dame 58, Boston College 56, Creighton 49, Ohio St. 48, Illinois 47, N.C. State 41, Pepperdine 36, Louisville 32, Oklahoma St. 30, Texas Tech 26, Georgia Tech 22, Temple 21, Southern Cal 20, LSU 13, UNLV 13, Mississippi 9, Stanford 8, Ball St. 7, Penn 7, Georgetown 6, Hawaii 5, Arizona St. 4, California 3, Ohio 3, St. John's 3, Memphis 2, S. Illinois 2, Holy Cross 1, Utah 1.
 

 

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