Preseason AP college basketball poll shows that the season is wide open

  • For the third time in program history, the Kansas Jayhawks headline the AP Top 25 preseason poll with 37 first-place votes.
  • No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Gonzaga, and No. 4 Duke appeared in the top four spots — in various combinations — across nearly half of the ballots.
  • Although the Jayhawks lost three of last season's starters, they have added three notable transfers and the fifth-ranked recruiting class to pair with their returning starters from last year's Final Four squad.


In most recent years, the conversation at the start of the college basketball season surrounds one mega team that is destined to dominate the rest of the field. 

But not this year.

For the first time since the 2004-05 season, seven different teams received first-place votes in the AP Top 25 preseason poll. While the Kansas Jayhawks came out on top with 37 votes for the top spot, No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Gonzaga, No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Virginia, No. 6 Tennessee, and No. 9 Villanova all received at least one first-place vote.

That being said, voters seemed to reach a consensus with the top four teams. Kansas, Kentucky, Gonzaga, and Duke appeared in the top four spots — in various combinations — across nearly half of the ballots.

Although the Jayhawks lost three of last season's starters — including AP All-American Devonte' Graham — they have added three notable transfers and the No. 5 recruiting class to pair with upperclassmen starters Udoka Azubuike and Lagerald Vick from last year's Final Four squad.

For his part, Hall of Fame coach Bill Self did not seem to expect his team to take the top spot this early on:

"Obviously we lost a lot off last year's team with Devonte', Svi [Mykhailiuk] and Malik [Newman], so I'm a little surprised that the writers put us there this preseason," Self told the AP's Aaron Beard. "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."

Although they haven't sat atop the preseason poll since the 2014-15 season, the No. 2 Wildcats have found themselves in the preseason top 5 for the last eight years, while the No. 4 Blue Devils — who topped the rankings in each of the past two years — have been a top-10 team in the each of the last 23 preseason polls. Third-ranked Gonzaga, meanwhile, earned its highest ranking in a preseason AP poll in program history.

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Preseason AP college basketball rankings
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Preseason AP college basketball rankings

25. Washington

Washington guard Jaylen Nowell (5) looks to make a pass during the first round game of the mens Pac-12 Tournament between the Washington Huskies and the Oregon State Beavers on March 7, 2018, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

24. Purdue

Carsen Edwards #3 of the Purdue Boilermakers dribbles the ball during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at TD Garden on March 23, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Raiders won 78-65. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

23. LSU

ST. LOUIS, MO - MARCH 08: LSU guard Skylar Mays (4) drives to the basket in the first half during a Southeastern Conference Basketball Tournament game between LSU and Mississippi State on March 08, 2018, at Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO. (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images).

22. Clemson

Clemson Tigers guard Shelton Mitchell (4) during the second half of the ACC Tournament Semi Final Game between the Virginia Cavaliers and the Clemson Tigers on March 9, 2018, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. (Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

21. UCLA

UCLA guard Kris Wilkes (13) looks on during the semifinal game of the mens Pac-12 Tournament between the UCLA Bruins and the Arizona Wildcats on March 9, 2018, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

20. TCU

TCU Horned Frogs guard Desmond Bane (1) in the second half of a quarterfinal game in the Big 12 Basketball Championship between the TCU Horned Frogs and Kansas State Wildcats on March 8, 2018 at Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. Kansas State won 66-64 in overtime. (Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

19. Michigan

Zavier Simpson #3 of the Michigan Wolverines shoots the ball against the Villanova Wildcats during the first half of the 2018 NCAA Men's Final Four National Championship game at the Alamodome on April 2, 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

18. Mississippi State

KeyShawn Feazell #22 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs reacts in the fourth quarter against the Penn State Nittany Lions during their 2018 National Invitation Tournament Championship semifinals game at Madison Square Garden on March 27, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)

17. Florida State

Head Coach Leonard Hamilton of the Florida State Seminoles talks with F Phil Cofer (0) of the Florida State Seminoles and G CJ Walker (2) of the Florida State Seminoles during the NCAA Division I Men's Championship Elite Eight round basketball game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Michigan Wolverines on March 24, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

16. Syracuse

Oshae Brissett #11 and Paschal Chukwu #13 of the Syracuse Orange react during their game against the Duke Blue Devils during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional at CenturyLink Center on March 23, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

15. Virginia Tech

Wabissa Bede #3 of the Virginia Tech Hokies pumps up his teammates before the game against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament held at PPG Paints Arena on March 15, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

14. Oregon

Oregon forward Kenny Wooten (1) boxes out USC guard Jonah Mathews (2) for a rebound during the semifinal game of the mens Pac-12 Tournament between the Oregon Ducks and the USC Trojans on March 9, 2018, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

13. West Virginia

Esa Ahmad #23 of the West Virginia Mountaineers looks on during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament East Regional against the Villanova Wildcats at TD Garden on March 23, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Wildcats won 71-59. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images) 

12. Kansas State

Kamau Stokes #3 of the Kansas State Wildcats walks off the court after his teams loss to the Loyola Ramblers during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at Philips Arena on March 24, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Loyola Ramblers defeated the Kansas State Wildcats 78-62. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

11. Auburn

Malik Dunbar #14 and Davion Mitchell #10 of the Auburn Tigers react on the bench as they lose to the Clemson Tigers in the second half during the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Viejas Arena on March 18, 2018 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

10. Michigan State

Michigan State Spartans forward Nick Ward (44) looks to the bench as he runs up the court during the NCAA Division I Men's Championship Second Round basketball game between the Syracuse Orange and the Michigan State Spartans on March 18, 2018 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. Syracuse defeated Michigan State 55-53. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

9. Villanova

The Villanova bench erupts as time runs out during the BigEast championship game and the Wildcats defeat the Providence Friars in overtimeon March 10, 2018, at Madison Square Garden in New York, NY. (Photo by David Hahn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

8. North Carolina

The North Carolina Tar Heels huddle before the second round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the Texas A&M Aggies at the Spectrum Center on March 18, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Aggies won 86-65. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

7. Nevada

Cody Martin #11 and Caleb Martin #10 of the Nevada Wolf Pack discuss the play against the Loyola Ramblers in the second half during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at Philips Arena on March 22, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. The Loyola Ramblers defeated the Nevada Wolf Pack 69-68. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

6. Tennessee

G Jordan Bowden (23) of the Tennessee Volunteers drives to the basket during the NCAA Div I Men's Championship Second Round basketball game between Loyola-Chicago and Tennessee on March 17, 2018 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. (Photo by George Walker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

5. Virginia

Nigel Johnson #23 of the Virginia Cavaliers looks on during the first round of the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament against the UMBC Retrievers at the Spectrum Center on March 16, 2018 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Retrievers won 74-54. Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

4. Duke

Cameron Crazies and fans of the Duke Blue Devils cheer during Countdown to Craziness at Cameron Indoor Stadium on October 19, 2018 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

3. Gonzaga

Zach Norvell Jr. #23 and Josh Perkins #13 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs react late in the game as their team loses to the Florida State Seminoles during the second half in the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament West Regional at Staples Center on March 22, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. The Florida State Seminoles defeated the Gonzaga Bulldogs 75-60. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

2. Kentucky

PJ Washington #25 and Quade Green #0 of the Kentucky Wildcats dance with the UK Dance Team during Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena on October 12, 2018 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

1. Kansas

Udoka Azubuike #35 of the Kansas Jayhawks looks on during their game against the Duke Blue Devils during the 2018 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament Midwest Regional Final at CenturyLink Center on March 25, 2018 in Omaha, Nebraska. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)

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