The only thing Gonzaga was left to achieve under Mark Vai was to win the national championship.
The ‘Zags made their first pass on the list on Monday: They will open the season at No. 1.
Despite losing West Coast Conference’s best player Filip Petrusev, the Bulldogs received 28 votes in first place and 1,541 points from the 64-member national media panel. That was just enough to beat Baylor (24 votes in first place) a single point for the pre-season top 25 of the Associated Press towards the delayed start of the season on May 25. 11.
“It’s an honor to be chosen number 1,” said little. “We understand that it is a more reflection of what our program has achieved over the years and hope to meet that standard when we start our season. ”;
Villanova received 11 votes in first and third place, followed by Virginia with remaining first place votes. Iowa was selected fifth after top athlete of the year Luka Garza, the highest preseason ranking in school history.
It was followed by a wave of blue-fish with Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Duke and Kentucky finishing the top 10.
The Bulldogs spent four weeks at No. 1 last season before finishing second to Jayhawks in the final poll, made when the NCAA Tournament was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Petrusev’s choice to play professionally in Serbia and later enlist was a failure, but the Bulldogs still have the pieces to win them all. Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi provide the scoring punch and the arrival of potential defender Jalen Suggs will stabilize their roster.
The ‘Zags are certainly scheduled the same as title candidates. They opened on October 26 against Kansas at Fort Myers Tip-Off, where they will also play Auburn, and face Baylor in Indianapolis and Iowa in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
The Bears, who also had the highest pre-season ranking, spent five weeks at No. 1 last season and lost only one starter to big man Freddie Gillespie. But coach Scott Drew could own the best squad in the country with Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague, Mark Vital’s best defender and have the depth behind hiring the top 100 LJ Cryer and moving ceded Adam Flagler.
The Bears also built a brutal schedule, playing Illinois and potentially Villanova in the Empire Classic alongside Gonzaga.
“I think it starts with experience,” says Drew. “Whenever you come back many successful players, in a back-to-back season and a brief summer, you certainly benefit from having people with college experience. ”
Wildcats, who matched their highest pre-season rankings in 3rd place between 1995-96, harbored hope that Saddiq Bey will return in one more season. But despite losing the versatile striker in the NBA, coach Jay Wright still has outstanding guard Collin Gillespie, dual machine Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and excellent star Jermaine Samuels.
After 30 consecutive seasons of wins and a national title, Virginia pulled back a bit last season, with a score of 23-7 before the season was recalled. But manager Tony Bennett’s side should once again be loved by the ACC following the transfer of Marquette Sam Hauser, top 100 prospects Reece Beekman and Jabri Abdur-Rahim, and the locked defense of the Cavs.
Garza was second behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin for the national player of the year last season, and the Iowa big brother flirted with the NBA before returning to Hawkeyes. But he is barely showing one person: Joe Wieskamp averaged 14.0 points, experienced CJ Fredrick and Connor McCaffery, and Jordan Bohannon well after being absent from all but 10 games last season.
Hawkeyes manager Fran McCaffery said: “Having seven players with starting experience gives us incredible flexibility.” In a year where you can have a player absent for a few weeks (due to COVID-19), the depth will be very important. ”
Jayhawks lost Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike from a team likely to be the number 1 seed overall that took place the NCAA Tournament, but they were back on fire to give Baylor a challenge in the Big 12.
Wisconsin and Illinois joined Hawkeyes to bring the Big Ten some fresh flavor to the top of the poll. Young and rebuilding Duke and Kentucky may lose some points at the start of the season but could be the championship contenders in March.
Creighton lost to Ty-Shon Alexander in the NBA and Davion Mintz to Kentucky but still managed to score the highest pre-season in school history at 11th, followed by Tennessee, Michigan State, Texas Tech and West Virginia.
North Carolina is next with Houston at 17th, the highest pre-season ranking since Hakeem Olajuwon’s final African Slama Jama team started the 1983-84 season in third place. Arizona, Texas and Oregon. finished first 20 with the State of Florida, UCLA, Ohio, Rutgers and Michigan making the Top 25.
ON THE DOOR
LSU was the first team out of the rankings, followed by Memphis, Florida, Alabama and Indiana. The state of San Diego got six votes after finishing sixth in last season’s final poll but lost player of the year Mountain West Malachi Flynn and two other elite producers. Louisville and Seton Hall were also not appreciated after finishing in the top 15 last season.