Kansas was voted No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll released Monday, claiming the top position for the third time in school history.
The Jayhawks received 37 of 65 first-place votes, nearly twice that of No. 2 Kentucky.
“Obviously we lost a lot off last year’s team with Devonte’ (Graham), Svi (Mykhailiuk) and Malik (Newman), so I’m a little surprised that the writers put us there this preseason,” Self said in a statement to the AP. “It’s definitely a spot we welcome and certainly know the goal is to be playing to that ranking by when it counts the most.
“With the young players, we know it’s going to take some time before we’re anywhere close to where we’re going to be, but I do like this team and I think we have a chance to be very good.”
The Jayhawks enter the 2018-19 season restocked, however. Twins Dedric and K.J. Lawson, transfers from Memphis, and Charlie Moore from Cal all scored in double digits for the previous teams. They join junior 7-footer Udoka Azubuike and senior Lagerald Vick, contributors on a team that reached the Final Four, ousted by eventual champion Villanova in the semifinals.
Kansas will have to wait to see if it has the services of sophomore forward Silvio De Sousa, whose name came up repeatedly in the trial regarding alleged corruption in college basketball. Arguments ended last week, and the jury is expected to begin its deliberations on Monday. It is unclear whether De Sousa’s eligibility will be affected, and Self hasn’t been charged with wrongdoing, even though at least one witness said Self was aware of payments to recruits.
Kentucky Wildcats No. 2
Elsewhere on the poll, voters pegged Kentucky as No 2, followed by Gonzaga, Duke and Virginia to round out the first five.
This was the highest-ever preseason ranking for Gonzaga, which has reached No. 1 in program history during the regular season before. The Blue Devils began the preseason as No. 1 each of the past two seasons. This is the highest preseason ranking for Virginia since the Ralph Sampson-led Cavaliers opened at No. 1 in 1982-83.
Also in the Top 10 are Tennessee at No. 6, followed by Nevada. Blue-blood programs North Carolina, Villanova and Michigan State complete the group.
The ACC topped the list with seven entries: Duke, Virginia, UNC, No. 15 Virginia Tech, No. 16 Syracuse, No. 17 Florida State and No. 22 Clemson.
The SEC had five teams: Kentucky, Tennessee, No. 11 Auburn, No. 18 Mississippi State and No. 23 LSU.
The Big 12 added four (Kansas, No. 12 Kansas State, No. 13 West Virginia and No. 20 TCU).
NCAA Tournament darling Loyola-Chicago finished just outside the Top 25.
–Field Level Media