The Associated Press preseason Top 25 men’s college basketball poll was released Monday.
With four starters back from the team that lost the national championship to Kansas, North Carolina is the runaway pick as the preseason No.1 team. The Tar Heels earned 47 of 62 first-place votes from a national media panel to easily claim the top spot.
Gonzaga, the top preseason team the last two seasons, is No.2 after receiving 12 first-place votes, while No.3 Houston had one, and fourth-ranked Kentucky received the other two.
The Big 12 has five teams in the top 25, led by the defending champions Kansas, who are tied at No.5 with Big 12 rival and champions from two seasons ago, Baylor. The Bears were picked to finish atop the Big 12 Conference standings in a poll of the conference’s head coaches.
Head coach Scott Drew will enter his 20th season at Baylor. He has led Baylor to 10 NCAA Tournament appearances, five Sweet 16 berths, three trips to the Elite Eight, and the 2021 National Championship.
Baylor is returning two starters from a 27-7 team last season, including unanimous 2022 Preseason All-Big 12 Team member Adam Flagler.
New on the team is preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year and Lewisville-native Keyonte George in the backcourt.
Preseason All-Big 12 honorable mention selection LJ Cryer is back and hopes to bounce back from an injury-plagued sophomore season, where he averaged 13.5 points per game and shot 47.6% from three-point range.
The Bears also added experienced transfers Caleb Lohner (BYU), and Jalen Bridges (WVU), who will join Flo Thamba and his 64-straight starts in the front court.
Coming in at No.12 are the Texas Longhorns, their 19th appearance in school history in the AP preseason basketball poll.
Texas returns five key rotational players from Chris Beard’s first season in Austin, when the Longhorns posted a 22-12 mark, earned a No.25 final AP poll ranking, and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32 for the first time since 2014.
Three of the five returning rotation players earned All-Big 12 Conference recognition, including Timmy Allen (second team), Marcus Carr (third team), and Christian Bishop (honorable mention).
The Longhorns also added a pair of transfers in Tyrese Hunter (Iowa State) and Sir’Jabari Rice (New Mexico State), who both led their former teams to wins in the NCAA Tournament last year.
Texas is also welcoming a four-man freshman class ranked as the No.5 recruiting class in the country by Rivals and 247 Sports. A pair of McDonald’s All-Americans highlight the recruiting class: Dillon Mitchell and Dallas Kimball graduate Arterio Morris.
For only the third time in program history, the TCU men’s basketball team is ranked in the AP preseason poll, coming in at No.14.
It is the highest preseason ranking ever for TCU, which last appeared in the AP Preseason Poll before the 2018 season (20th) and was also ranked before the 1998 season (24th).
The Horned Frogs return all five starters from last season’s team, which made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 35 seasons. Included in the returners are Preseason All-Big 12 Conference forward Emanuel Miller and Preseason Player of the Year Mike Miles Jr.
Capping the top 25 and the final Big 12 team ranked are the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Tech will enter the season at No.25 after reaching the Sweet 16 round of the 2022 NCAA Tournament and finishing the season at No.12 in the final AP Top 25.
The Red Raiders went 27-10 last season, including 18-0 at home, under first-year head coach Mark Adams.
The Red Raiders lost a lot from last year’s team as they return only three players from last season, including Kevin Obanor, who started all 37 games and was an All-Big 12 honorable mention selection. Daniel Batcho and KJ Allen are also returning.
The program did bring in five players from the transfer portal in D’Maurian Williams (Gardner-Webb), Fardaws Aimaq (Utah Valley), Jaylon Tyson (Texas), De’Vion Harmon (Oregon/Oklahoma), and Kerwin Walton. The Red Raiders also have five true freshmen on the roster.
Aimaq was the 2021 WAC Player of the Year, earned WAC Defensive Player of the Year for the past two seasons, and has 41 career double-doubles. Obanor and Aimaq were named All-Big 12 Preseason honorable mention last week.
Just outside the rankings listed as the first team in the “others receiving votes” section is Texas A&M. The Aggies added a wealth of talent to an already experienced roster through the transfer portal over the offseason.
Dexter Dennis (Wichita State), Khalen Robinson (Arkansas), Andersson Garcia (Mississippi State), Julius Marble (Michigan State), and sharp-shooting JUCO transfer Erik Pratt are all new to the team. On paper, it appears Aggies fourth-year head coach Buzz Williams has his most complete team yet in College Station.
Full AP Top 25 (First-Place Votes):
1. North Carolina (47)
2. Gonzaga (12)
3. Houston (1)
4. Kentucky (2)
19. San Diego State
25. Texas Tech
Others receiving votes: Texas A&M 112, UConn 101, Miami (FL) 66, Purdue 56, Saint Louis 36, Michigan State 35, Florida State 32, Xavier 29, Wyoming 25, Ohio State 23, Iowa 13, Rutgers 4, Florida 3, USC 3, Virginia Tech 1, Memphis 1, Toledo 1, Notre Dame 1, UAB 1.
Did not take you long to show your bias, just like the DMN. Arkansas has a lot of VERY loyal fans in Dallas and you did not even mention them, in-spite of # 10 ranking. I have not read the DMN in over 5 years now.