National runner-up Kansas enters 2012-13 with only a couple of key returnees and a bevy of unproven young talent but still received the No. 7 spot in Preseason AP Top 25 Poll released today.
Two of their Final Four opponents, Kentucky and Ohio State, are ranked No. 3 and No. 4 respectively. The Top 10 is identical to the previously released USA Today poll with the Cody Zeller-led Indiana Hoosiers grabbing the top spot.
It marks the first time since the 1979-80 season that IU is ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll and potentially signals the return of their program following a difficult rebuilding period.
KU lost Tyshawn Taylor via graduation and Thomas Robinson as an early entrant for the NBA Draft, leaving two enormous holes in the starting lineup that are expected to be filled by freshmen Ben McLemore and Perry Ellis.
Elijah Johnson will likely move over to point guard full-time after backing up Taylor and primarily playing the 2-guard last season. Sophomore Naadir Tharpe will come off the bench as Johnson's reserve.
The return of Johnson, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford, along with the new talent, undoubtedly impacted the Top 10 ranking, but Bill Self's recent ability to rebuild on the fly (see 2008-09 and 2011-12) almost certainly was on the mind of voters.
The Jayhawks open November 9 at home vs. Southeast Missouri State, but everyone is looking to their matchup four days later in the Champions Classic against 14th-ranked Michigan State.