AP College Basketball Poll 2018: Complete Preseason Rankings Released

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2018

Kansas head coach Bill Self directs his team during the first half in the semifinals of the Final Four NCAA college basketball tournament against Villanova, Saturday, March 31, 2018, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
David J. Phillip/Associated Press

Despite some stiff competition, Kansas is the nation's top-ranked team heading into the 2018-19 season.

The Jayhawks earned 37 first-place votes to beat out No. 2 Kentucky, which received 19. Gonzaga, Duke and Virginia round out the top five in the preseason AP poll. 

Here's how the Top 25 played out:

1. Kansas

2. Kentucky

3. Gonzaga 

4. Duke

5. Virginia

6. Tennessee

7. Nevada

8. North Carolina

9. Villanova 

10. Michigan State

11. Auburn

12. Kansas State

13. West Virginia

14. Oregon

15. Virginia Tech

16. Syracuse

17. Florida State

18. Mississippi State

19. Michigan

20. TCU

21. UCLA

22. Clemson

23. LSU

24. Purdue

25. Washington

The decision for the writers came down to picking between teams with the highest-end talent and most well-rounded experience.

Kansas will boast a veteran-laden lineup to go along with freshmen Quentin Grimes and Devon Dotson. The Jayhawks brought in Charlie Moore from Cal. 

Bill Self has garnered a reputation for being able to mix a veteran-laden roster with high-level prospects. Kansas is the nation's top-ranked team despite losing its three leading scorers from last season's team.

Gonzaga, meanwhile, returns the vast majority of a team that looked like a national title contender before bowing out earlier than expected in the NCAA tournament. 

Duke boasted the best recruiting class and one of the greatest in the history of the sport. RJ Barrett and Cam Reddish were the two best players in the 2018 high school class. Zion Williamson wasn't far behind. Tre Jones gave Duke four 5-star recruits and the potential to be an unstoppable force come March.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski said the team is still in a search for a fifth starter. 

"I think one of my biggest strengths is my talk and my voice," Javin DeLaurier said, per Steve Wiseman of the News Observer. "Being able to talk to these young guys and communicate, to be honest, makes things flow a little better when I'm on the court. It might not be anything I'm doing in particular. But if you help guys work as a unit, everything is going to look a little better."

Forward EJ Montgomery and guard Ashton Hagans will lead the charge for another Kentucky team filled to the brim with 5-star recruits. Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley help the Wildcats match Duke's four 5-stars, and transfer Reid Travis will look to put together an All-American season as a senior.

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