Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Kansas topped the USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 men’s basketball preseason coaches’ poll released Thursday, and six Big East clubs made the rankings.
Kansas, the 2008 NCAA champion, was voted the preseason No. 1 despite several off-the-court issues, including recent fights between members of the football and basketball teams that left New Jersey guard Tyshawn Taylor with an injured thumb.
“Based on what we return and the quality of newcomers that we were able to recruit, I could see why people would think this,” Kansas coach Bill Self told USA Today. “It means you have good players, but it also puts a target on your back. That will make the season tougher, but we’ll be that much more prepared for March.”
Kansas received 27 first-place votes from the 31-member coaches panel.
Following Kansas are No. 2 Michigan State, No. 3 Texas, No. 4 North Carolina (the defending NCAA champion) and No. 5 Kentucky.
UCLA is not ranked for the first time in 80 polls, dating to the final poll of the 2004-05 season.
A year after sending five teams to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and two teams to the Final Four, the Big East placed six teams in the poll.
Villanova, picked to win the Big East, is the highest rated Big East team at No. 6.
West Virginia came in at No. 9 for its highest-ever ranking in the poll.
UConn came in at No. 14, Georgetown at No. 21, Louisville at No. 23 and Syracuse at No. 25.
Here’s the full poll:
2. Michigan State
4. North Carolina
9. West Virginia
17. Ohio State
19. Mississippi State
20. Georgia Tech
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Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.