Duke Tops Preseason Coaches' Poll
The Blue Devils return seniors Kyle Singler, the Most Outstanding Player of last year's Final Four and star guard Nolan Smith and, despite losing three starters from last year's team, may have increased the overall talent level of their roster. Duke added both Kyrie Irving, one of the nation's top point guard recruits, and Seth Curry, who sat out last year after transferring from Liberty. The Blue Devils are also expecting increased production out of Miles and Mason Plumlee in the frontcourt as the team transitions to a faster-paced offense.
Duke was first on 29 of the 31 ballots cast. Fellow Final Four team Michigan State finished second, followed by Kansas State, Pittsburgh and Ohio State.
Michigan State, which is trying for its third consecutive Final Four and returns several key players, including point guard Kalin Lucas, received the remaining two first-place votes. Tom Izzo has been to the Final Four six of the past 12 seasons, but has only one championship. Lucas and fellow senior Durrell Summers decided to remain in school for one more year to take care of what they consider unfinished business.
Villanova, Kansas, Purdue, North Carolina and Kentucky round out the top 10.
However, both Kansas and Kentucky are awaiting eligibility rulings from the NCAA. Point guard Josh Selby is allowed to practice, but has not been ruled eligible to participate in games, while Kentucky center Enes Kanter faces allegations that he took money from a Turkish basketball team.
Purdue placed eighth despite losing star forward Robbie Hummel to season-ending ACL injury, the second time in eight weeks.
North Carolina surged to ninth despite finishing last season in the NIT. The Tar Heels, who lost senior Deion Thompson to graduation, sophomore Ed Davis to the NBA and the freshman Wear brothers to transfer, brought in a standout three-man recruiting class, including Harrison Barnes, the ACC's preseason player of the year.
However, the Tar Heels finished third behind Duke and Virginia Tech in preseason balloting by ACC media. The Hokies, which return all five starters from last season, finished 23rd in the coaches poll.
Florida, which returned to the NCAA tournament last year for the first time since winning back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007, came in 11th, followed by Gonzaga, Syracuse, Baylor, Missouri, Illinois, Washington, Butler, Memphis and Tennessee.
Georgetown, Temple, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Texas rounded out the top 25.