AP College Basketball Poll 2012: Winners and Losers of Preseason Rankings

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 26, 2012

Released exactly two weeks before the college basketball season tips off, there are few benchmarks more debated among college basketball fans than the Associated Press' preseason Top 25 rankings. 

Though mostly in line with what was expected, this season's rankings certainly come with the disappointment for the underrated and unbridled joy for those considered the best in the nation.

Which teams fall into the losers and winners category in 2012? Here is a look at a complete breakdown of the 2012 preseason AP poll:


No. 1 Indiana Hoosiers

For the second time in as many weeks, Tom Crean's squad is named the best in all of college basketball—and it's not hard to see why.

Led by Naismith Award favorite Cody Zeller, the Hoosiers return a flock of talented players from last season's shocking Sweet 16 squad. 

In fact, the only non-returning starter is likely to be point guard Yogi Ferrell, who was ranked as the third best point guard in the class of 2012 by ESPN's Scouts Inc

Nevertheless, this ranking means more than just an acknowledgement of the boys in Bloomington's ability to play basketball.

Being ranked first is the culmination of a fantastic rebuilding project from Crean, who took over a tarnished program after NCAA sanctions riddled the Kelvin Sampson era.

It was a slow, arduous process that did not include many high-profile signings. Regardless, this is nothing short of a massive coup for Crean.

No. 13 UCLA Bruins

Obviously the votes were cast before forward Shabazz Muhammad went down with a shoulder injury, but this Top 25 ranking could not come at a better time for Ben Howland.

The embattled Bruins coach faced a heap of criticism and some rumors of an impending dismissal following a report from Sports Illustrated's George Dohrmann about his treatment of players and staff at UCLA. 

However, it's highly likely that this top-tier recruiting class saved his job in the offseason and will do the same during the 2012-13 campaign.

Muhammad is only expected to miss between two and four weeks and will join a roster that includes fellow phenoms Tony Parker and Kyle Anderson.

The Bruins aren't three-straight-Final Fours good, but they will certainly move into the elite conversation as the season wears on.


Georgetown Hoyas

John Thompson III's teams are never the most exciting to watch, usually leading them to come into the season criminally underrated.

This season is no different, as the Hoyas are not ranked in either preseason poll. However, for the first time in a while, the lack of respect from the rankers seems justified in 2012. 

Gone are Georgetown's three leading scorers from last season, and taking their place will mostly be a group of relatively unheralded youngsters.

Otto Porter should be able to shine with an expanded role this season, but I'm not sold on this team.

Regardless, the Hoyas will have an opportunity to prove their worth early, as they open the season against the 10th-ranked Florida Gators.

No. 23 Wisconsin Badgers

Also perennially underrated, the Badgers seemingly got lost in the shuffle in all the Big Ten preseason hype.

With three teams in Top 5, it's not hard to see how. Still, that doesn't make it any easier for Bo Ryan's squad to take.

Though they lost Jordan Taylor, the Badgers still return four starters from a team that won 26 games and reached the Sweet 16 last season. 

It may be a struggle to find reliable scoring early on, but don't be shocked if this veteran bunch winds up making it farther in March than some of their higher-profile in-conference counterparts. 

Texas Longhorns

Of the unranked teams, the Longhorns easily stick out the most as an egregious oversight by the voters.

Boasting the fourth-best recruiting class in the nation and returning highly-touted stars like Myck Kabongo, Texas has one of the most skilled teams in the Big 12. 

Obviously, this is a young bunch that will take time to mesh. Nonetheless, if John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats have taught us anything in recent years, it's that talent wins out.

Look for Rick Barnes' bunch to leap into the rankings, as Texas' schedule is filled with cupcakes early on.

Preseason AP Top 25 RANKINGS
 1. Indiana
 2. Louisville
 3. Kentucky
 4. Ohio State 
 5. Michigan
 6. NC State
 7. Kansas
 8. Duke
 9. Syracuse
 10. Florida
 11. North Carolina
 12. Arizona
 13. UCLA
 14. Michigan State
 15. Missouri
 16. Creighton
 17. Memphis
 18. UNLV
 19. Baylor
 20. San Diego State
 21. Gonzaga
 22. Notre Dame
 23. Wisconsin
 24. Cincinnati
 25. Florida State


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