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USA TODAY Sports hoops poll set for release
Posted By HOOPSWORLD On October 17, 2013 @ 8:25 am In NCAA,Wirenews | Comments Disabled
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Kentucky coach John Calipari found it absurd when his team was projected No. 3 in the preseason USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll last year.
Calipari’s instincts weren’t far off. The youthful Wildcats struggled to click in the same fashion Kentucky had the season before on the way to winning the 2012 national championship, and a season-ending injury to top player Nerlens Noel derailed any chance of repeating.
Ultimately, Kentucky missed the NCAA tournament field of 68 and bowed out in the NIT first round. Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ in-state nemesis, Louisville, finished as the top team in the country.
Heading into the 2013-14 season, with tip-off a mere three weeks away, fans will get a taste of the best teams in the country today at noon ET when the preseason top 25 teams are unveiled in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches Poll.
How will this preseason’s top 25 shake out? Once again, the spotlight shines brightly over the state of Kentucky. Ushering in perhaps the greatest recruiting class of all-time — boasting six McDonald’s All-Americans — Calipari’s reloaded Kentucky team is positioned to get back to title form. The heavily-favored Wildcats should again earn a high preseason ranking thanks to an influx of talent, including returning sophomores and de facto veterans Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein, to go “40-0″ as Calipari isn’t shy in suggesting.
Although there were plenty of surprises in last season’s NCAA tournament — Florida Gulf Coast Sweet 16 finish, Wichita State’s Final Four run to name two — the college hoops season had an unsurprising ending: With a defensively dominant Louisville team cutting down the nets.
The defending champion Cardinals will look to become the first team since Florida (2006 & 2007) to repeat as national champions. That mission is certainly possible as Hall of Fame coach Rick Pitino returns a nucleus that’s led by All-American Russ Smith.
And though Kentucky’s recruiting class wins in quantity, perennial top 10 teams Kansas and Duke bring in the top overall freshmen in Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, respectively.
Michigan State returns arguably the most talent of … [For more on USA TODAY Sports basketball Coaches Poll set for Thursday release, click here.]
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