AP College Basketball Poll 2019: Complete Preseason Rankings Released

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistOctober 21, 2019

FILE - In this March 29, 2019, file photo, Michigan State guard Cassius Winston (5) puts his arm around coach Tom Izzo following the team's 80-63 win over LSU in an NCAA men's college basketball tournament East Region semifinal, in Washington. Winston has joined a select group of players in program history as an All-America player and Big Ten player of the year. If he can help the Spartans win two more games, he'll join Magic Johnson and Mateen Cleaves as the school's national championship-winning point guards. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)
Pat Semansky/Associated Press

Michigan State took the top spot in the Associated Press men's college basketball poll preseason rankings released Monday ahead of the 2019-20 season. 

Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and Louisville rounded out the Top Five. The reigning NCAA tournament champion Virginia Cavaliers checked in at No. 11. 

Here's a look at the complete preseason poll:

1. Michigan State

2. Kentucky

3. Kansas

4. Duke

5. Louisville

6. Florida

7. Maryland

8. Gonzaga

9. North Carolina

10. Villanova

11. Virginia

12. Seton Hall

13. Texas Tech

14. Memphis

15. Oregon

16. Baylor

17. Utah State

18. Ohio State

19. Xavier

20. Saint Mary's

21. Arizona

22. LSU

23. Purdue

24. Auburn

25. VCU

                  

All signs point to a wide-open college basketball season with no clear favorite heading into the campaign.

Caesars Sportsbook lists Michigan State as the early national championship favorite at +550 (bet $100 to win $550). But the Spartans are closely followed by Kansas (+600), Kentucky (+600), Memphis (+800), Duke (+1,000) and Louisville (+1,000).

MSU is led by point guard Cassius Winston, a favorite for the Naismith Trophy, which goes to the top player in college basketball. But the senior, who was named the preseason Player of the Year in the Big Ten, said he's not letting the accolades impact his preparation:

"You can't get too high over it. It's given to me, it can be taken away that easily. It's a huge honor, it's a huge blessing. But at the same time, I gotta go out there and I gotta prove it. That comes from the work and the mentality I have looking forward. I can't feel like I've conquered the world, because I haven't really accomplished anything yet."

Meanwhile, Virginia head coach Tony Bennett knows the program's title defense faces numerous hurdles, led by trying to replace De'Andre Hunter, Kyle Guy and Ty Jerome, but he noted that overcoming adversity has become a hallmark in recent years:

"I'm very thankful for what transpired. I think it's been a process, and just like after the 2018 season, it was an amazing year and obviously a hardening from a basketball standpoint, but we grew from it. We didn't hide from it. We addressed it. But we didn't obsess about it, and I think the same holds true with this last year."

He added: "There will be some growing pains. I know that. We've already experienced that in practice, and I’ve been on these guys pretty hard and pushing them."

The season kicks off with a blockbuster opening night Nov. 5 as Duke battles Kansas and Kentucky takes on Michigan State at Madison Square Garden.

It should set the stage for a college basketball season in which the madness starts well before March.

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