Duke lands top spot in AP preseason men's basketball poll; West Virginia ranked 11th
Duke was in good position to be ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll before landing Marvin Bagley III. Once the nation's top recruit decided to reclassify for this season, the Blue Devils became the voters' clear choice.
Led by Bagley and senior guard Grayson Allen, Duke was the preseason No. 1 for the second consecutive season a ninth time overall, matching rival North Carolina for most all-time. The Blue Devils received 33 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in the AP Top 25 released Wednesday.
No. 2 Michigan State received 13 first-place votes, No. 3 Arizona had 18 and No. 4 Kansas got one. West Virginia is 11th.
Duke had three players leave school early, but coach Mike Krzyzewski restocked the Blue Devils with another stellar recruiting class. The class is led by Bagley, an athletic 6-foot-11 forward who was considered the No. 1 recruit of the 2018 class before reclassifying.
Duke, which lost to Final Four-bound South Carolina in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, is ranked No. 1 for the 129th time, five behind all-time leader UCLA. The Blue Devils were first the preseason No. 1 in 1978-79 and finished seventh in last year's final poll.
“It is an honor to be picked No. 1 in your sport,” Krzyzewski said. “At this time of the year, it truly is a prediction, so you haven't earned No. 1 yet. More than likely, past teams that have played at Duke have put this team in a position where people might say, ‘How is that team going to do?' or ‘They have a lot of talent' and all of the sudden, you're No. 1.
“Certainly, it's an honor, and we'll look forward to trying to achieve and earn that ranking at some time during the season, hopefully at the end.”
The ACC had the most ranked teams with five, and the Big 12 and Big Ten have four each. The Big East and Pac-12 have three each.
Kansas extended the nation's longest consecutive poll streak with its 162nd straight Top 25, a run that started Feb. 3, 2009. Arizona is next with 98.
Arizona, USC and Louisville enter the season clouded in uncertainty after assistant coaches from Arizona and USC — along with Auburn and Oklahoma State — were arrested in a federal investigation into bribing players. Louisville will play under interim coach David Padgett after coach Rick Pitino was fired in the wake of the scandal that alleged that a recruit was supposed to receive payments from Adidas for committing to the Cardinals.