Indiana Hoosiers Ranked No. 1 In College Basketball Preseason AP Poll, Louisville and Kentucky Round Out Top Three

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Oct 26, 2012 04:19 PM EDT
Indiana University
Indiana University's forwards Will Sheehey (10) and Cody Zeller (40) celebrate their win over Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) as VCU guard Bradford Burgess (L) walks away, after their men's NCAA basketball game in Portland, Oregon March 17.(Photo : Reuters) "

Preseason polls can be a tricky thing.

Teams are ranked based on what they did last year plus what voters think they will do in the upcoming season. Last year the University of Kentucky won the national championship, but lost four starters to the NBA draft. While the team brought in a host of talented freshman, voters had to wonder, could they be as good as last year?

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Clearly they think so, but they also think another team could be better.

Following last year's performance in the NCAA Tournament and the return of all five starters, the poll has voted the Indiana Hoosiers in the top spot for the first time since the 1979 season.

The state of Kentucky was also well represented, with Louisville coming in at No. 2 and Kentucky ranked at No. 3.

The Hoosiers had an excellent season last year behind star sophomore Cody Zeller. The team advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament before losing to rival Kentucky. The Hoosiers were 27-9 last season and finished only two games behind in the Big 10 behind Ohio State.

Zeller was one of the best players in the nation last season, scoring 15 points and notching 6.6 rebounds per game.

Head coach Tom Crean and his squad received 43 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel and was voted No. 1 for the third time, according to ESPN.com.

"It's great. Those things are great," Crean said to the Associated Press. "I think now, it's just so much about the daily challenge of getting better. That to me is what the focus is."

Louisville earned 20 No. 1 votes on the panel after making the Final Four last season, while Kentucky received two.

The Cardinals will be a tough team to beat this season as they return a number of players from last year, including Gorgui Dieng and senior guard Peyton Siva. Louisville was beat by Kentucky in the Final Four 69-61 and will open the season against Manhattan on Nov. 11.

The Kentucky Wildcats were ranked at No. 3 after taking home the national championship last year. The team has a number of young and talented stars to make up for the departures of Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who were the No. 1 and 2 picks in this year's NBA draft.

According to ESPN.com, this is the fifth time that the three team were all ranked in the preseason top 10. "The last time was 1983 when Kentucky was No. 4, Louisville No. 8 and Kentucky No. 9."

The Big Ten conference dominated the top part of the poll, with Indiana coming in at No. 1 and Ohio State and Michigan rounding out the top five.

According to the Associated Press, " the last time a conference had three teams in the preseason top five was 2008-09 when Connecticut, Louisville and Pittsburgh of the Big East were second, third and fifth, respectively."

The rest of the poll includes: "North Carolina State, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse and Florida (rounding) out the top 10. North Carolina led the second 10 and was followed by Arizona, UCLA, Michigan State, Missouri, Creighton, Memphis, UNLV, Baylor and San Diego State. The last five ranked teams were Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Florida State."

The college basketball poll means less than it does in college football due to the fact that the teams play in a 68-team tournament. But it does say a lot about the strengths of conferences, including when a number of teams make it into the top 10 from the same area.

The Big Ten, thanks to Indiana and Ohio State, have five teams in the poll, while the Big East and ACC both had four teams voted in. According to the AP: "Duke has the longest current streak of consecutive poll appearances at 97, a run that started with the preseason poll of 2007-08. Kansas has the second-longest current run at 65 weeks."

Last year Kentucky was voted as the number one team and then went on to win the national championship. Will Indiana have that same good fortune?

"It's a big deal, but you don't get any banners for your preseason rankings," said Crean. "You've got to go out and you've got to earn it every day. I think that's what this team is really doing a good job of, and I know it's early, but they're doing a good job of it."

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