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College Basketball Top 25: Duke, North Carolina, And Florida High in Preseason Rankings

The SEC and the ACC both came up with three teams apiece in the preseason AP Poll. Reigning national champion Duke is the consensus number one team, capturing 55 of 65 first place votes. Preseason ACC Player of the Year Kyle Singler and Nolan Smith will look to lead the Blue Devils back to the National Championship game. 

North Carolina checks in at No. 8 after suffering through a disappointing 2009 campaign and will look to bounce back with heralded freshman Harrison Barnes joining the fold. Virginia Tech was actually picked ahead of North Carolina at the ACC Media Days Conference but weighs in at No. 21 in the preseason AP poll. The Hokies return preseason All-ACC performer Malcolm Delaney to a talented roster.

Florida is the highest-ranked SEC team at No. 9. Coach Billy Donovan leads a deep and experienced Gator squad that hopes to return to national prominence. Returning players like Kenny Boynton, Chandler Parsons, and Erving Walker are ready to take the next step.

John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats just missed out on the top ten, coming in at No. 11. It is a very different cast of characters for Kentucky this year as they are forced to replace the likes of John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe. However, with the nation's number one recruiting class in fold and a coach that has shown the ability to win with inexperienced players, the Wildcats are poised for another big season.

The final SEC team in the top 25: the Tennessee Volunteers at No. 23. The Volunteers have been in the news for all the wrong reasons with the controversy that is surrounding head coach Bruce Pearl. This group proved last year that they could play through distractions and Pearl showed that he could coach through them. With impact newcomer Tobias Harris joining a talented set of returners we will see how high that Pearl can guide the Vols.

Both Georgia and Georgia Tech find themselves on the outside looking in at the preseason poll. Georgia appears at this juncture to be a lot closer than Tech. The return of preseason SEC Player of the Year Trey Thompkins and Sportscenter highlight machine Travis Leslie has many thinking that Mark Fox's Bulldogs are poised for a breakout season.

The Yellow Jackets are trying to recover from the losses of NBA early entrants Derek Favors and Gani Lawal. They return a talented and deep back court combination that is led by Iman Shumpert and Brian Oliver. Questions however abound in the front court where the Jackets will enter the season with no experienced players returning.   

The full preseason AP Poll:

  1. Duke
  2. Michigan State
  3. Kansas State
  4. Ohio State
  5. Pittsburgh
  6. Villanova
  7. Kansas
  8. North Carolina
  9. Florida
  10. Syracuse
  11. Kentucky
  12. Gonzaga
  13. Illinois
  14. Purdue
  15. Missouri
  16. Baylor
  17. Butler
  18. Washington
  19. Memphis
  20. Georgetown
  21. Virginia Tech
  22. Temple
  23. Tennessee
  24. BYU
  25. San Diego State

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.