AP College Basketball Poll 2020: Complete Preseason Rankings Released

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistNovember 9, 2020

Baylor's Jared Butler (12) drives against Texas Tech during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Waco, Texas, Monday, March 2, 2020. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

After no champion was crowned in 2019-20, Gonzaga is the early favorite to win the 2020-21 men's college basketball title after earning the top spot in the preseasonΒ Associated Press poll.Β 

Last season came to an abrupt halt because of the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a canceled NCAA tournament. While many of the key players left for the NBA and graduation, there is still a lot of talent across the country, with new prospects ready to make a difference.

Several teams stand out on paper, although they will need to win on the court in order to remain near the top of the rankings throughout the regular season.

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AP Preseason Top 25

1. Gonzaga

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2. Baylor

3. Villanova

4. Virginia

5. Iowa

6. Kansas

7. Wisconsin

8. Illinois

9. Duke

10. Kentucky

11. Creighton

12. Tennessee

13. Michigan State

14. Texas Tech

15. West Virginia

16. North Carolina

17. Houston

18. Arizona State

19. Texas

20. Oregon

21. Florida State

22. UCLA

23. Ohio State

24. Rutgers

25. Michigan

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Without March Madness last season or an especially notable recruiting class, there were no obvious picks to be No. 1.Β GonzagaΒ secured the honor and are thus an early favorite to win a title.

The Bulldogs lost their top scorer from last year inΒ Filip Petrusev, but the team addedΒ 5-starΒ guard Jalen Suggs alongside returning contributorsΒ Corey Kispert,Β Joel Ayayi and others.

Seven players averaged at least 9.8 points per game last season, leading to the most efficient offense in the country, perΒ KenPom. This depth should help lead the team to even more success in 2020-21.

Still, there are several teams who could end up in the No. 1 spot during the season.

Baylor was a top-five team throughout most of last season and returns most of its key players, including the backcourt of Jared Butler andΒ MaCio Teague. Adding Mark Vital andΒ Davion Mitchell, the Bears have the potential to boast the best defense in college basketball.

Butler averaged 16.0 points per game last season and could be an All-American candidate this season.

Villanova will also be among the favorites thanks to a veteran lineup led by Collin Gillespie. Transfer Caleb Daniels also joins the lineup after averaging 16.9 points per game at Tulane in 2018-19.

Deep returning lineups will also be key for Big Ten contenders Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, a conference with seven teams in the initial Top 25.

Luka Garza is back for more after starring for Iowa last year, averaging 23.9 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. He was the Big Ten Player of the Year and a consensus All-American, giving the Hawkeyes a chance for a deep run in March.

The blue bloods will also be around, including last year's final No. 1 in Kansas. Despite losingΒ Udoka Azubuike and Devon Dotson,Β Ochai AgbajiΒ will lead a reloaded squad that is always a threat to win the Big 12.

Duke is ranked No. 9, likely to rely on freshmen Jeremy Roach and Jalen Johnson. Wendell Moore and Matthew Hurt should give the Blue Devils some stability despite having quiet careers to this point, while head coach MikeΒ KrzyzewskiΒ always puts high expectations on his squad.

Kentucky had the No. 1 recruiting class in the country once again, per 247Sports, but voters ranked the team just No. 10 thanks to the uncertainty throughout the roster.