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UK fans who believe in omens might want to ignore AP preseason poll

·2 min read

For Kentucky fans who believe in omens, The Associated Press preseason top 25 basketball poll announced Monday could bring a shudder.

Kentucky is ranked No. 10. Coincidentally, UK was ranked No. 10 in the AP poll going into last season. Subsequently, the Cats went 9-16, the program’s first losing record since 1988-89 and only the second since 1927.

Of course, this time around Kentucky brought in four transfers and three freshmen. In contrast to last season, the UK team is one of the most experienced in John Calipari’s time as coach.

The No. 10 ranking equals the second-most modest for Kentucky with Calipari as coach. UK was No. 11 going into the 2010-11 season. Otherwise, the Cats have been No. 1 twice (going into 2013-14 and 2014-15), No. 2 five times (2019-20, 2018-19, 2016-17, 2015-16 and 2011-12), No. 3 once (2012-13), No. 4 once (2009-10) and No. 5 once 2017-18).

The last time Kentucky was not in the AP’s preseason top 25: Billy Gillispie’s final season as coach (2008-09).

Half of the Southeastern Conference teams received votes in the AP preseason poll. After Kentucky, the other SEC teams ranked are defending league champion Alabama at No. 14, No. 16 Arkansas, No. 18 Tennessee and No. 22 Auburn.

LSU and Mississippi State received votes.

Kentucky will play 14 games against teams receiving votes in the AP preseason poll. That’s two against Alabama, Tennessee and LSU, plus one against Mississippi State, Auburn, Arkansas, Kansas, Duke, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Louisville.

Two teams from the 2021 Final Four top the AP poll. National runner-up Gonzaga received 55 first-place votes and is No. 1.

UCLA, which counts former Kentucky player Johnny Juzang among its leading lights, received the other eight first-place votes and is No. 2.

Kansas, which UK plays in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, Villanova and Texas round out the top five.

Defending national champion Baylor, which lost four starters from last season, opens at No. 8.

Louisville received three votes.

Wheeler on Cousy list

UK’s Sahvir Wheeler is among 20 players named by the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame to a watch list for the Bob Cousy Point Guard of the Year Award. He led the SEC in assists last season while playing for Georgia.

Kentucky will play five other players on the list: Jahvon Quinerly of Alabama, Kennedy Chandler of Tennessee, Scotty Pippen Jr. of Vanderbilt, Remy Martin of Kansas and Jeremy Roach of Duke.

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