ARIZONA BASKETBALL

Arizona men’s basketball begins 2022-23 ranked in AP Poll

Oct 17, 2022, 9:38 AM
Arizona Wildcats guard Kerr Kriisa #25 and Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd, during a Pac-12...
Arizona Wildcats guard Kerr Kriisa #25 and Arizona Wildcats head coach Tommy Lloyd, during a Pac-12 basketball game between the Cal Golden Bears and the Arizona Wildcats on February 5, 2022 at McKale Center in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Christopher Hook/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Arizona Wildcats went into the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2-ranked team in 2021-22.

After their postseason run ended in the Sweet 16 and the team lost starters Bennedict Mathurin, Dalen Terry and Christian Koloko, Tommy Lloyd’s team regroups in his second season on the job with expectations still relatively high.

Arizona begins the 2022-23 season ranked No. 17 in the nation by The Associated Press top-25 men’s basketball preseason poll.

Atop the rankings, the North Carolina Tar Heels are the runaway pick as the preseason No. 1 in the AP Top 25 released Monday. They earned 47 of 62 first-place votes from a national media panel to easily outdistance Gonzaga, the top preseason team the past two years.

The Bulldogs received 12 first-place votes while No. 3 Houston — which defeated Arizona in the Sweet 16 last season — had one and fourth-ranked Kentucky the other two.

It is the 10th time that North Carolina has been preseason No. 1, breaking a tie with Duke for the most in the history of the AP poll. But only twice during those years did the Tar Heels reach the national championship game, and only the 1981-82 team with James Worthy and Michael Jordan ultimately cut down the nets.

Gonzaga will once again lean on Drew Timme to deliver coach Mark Few his elusive national title. Houston has its highest preseason ranking since 1983, when the third of the Cougars’ Phi Slama Jama teams reached its second consecutive title game. Kentucky has its best preseason rank since 2019, when the season ended amid the pandemic.

There was a tie at No. 5 between the Jayhawks, who raised their latest national title banner inside Allen Fieldhouse earlier this month, and Big 12 rival Baylor, which raised its own championship banner the previous season.

Duke, where Jon Scheyer replaced Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski, was ranked seventh and UCLA eighth. Creighton has its best preseason ranking at No. 9, followed by Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas, Indiana, TCU and Auburn.

The No. 13 Hoosiers have their first ranking since January 2019 and highest in the preseason since 2016.

Villanova, where Kyle Neptune is taking over for Hall of Fame coach Jay Wright, is No. 16, the lowest preseason ranking for the Wildcats since 2008. They were followed by Arizona, Virginia, San Diego State and Alabama.

The final five are Oregon, Michigan, Illinois, Dayton and Texas Tech.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR

Arizona opens the season on Nov. 7 against Nicholls but has an exhibition on Nov. 1 against Western Oregon beforehand.

Associated Press 2022-23 preseason men’s basketball poll

Team Record Pts Prv
1. North Carolina (47) 0-0 1532
2. Gonzaga (12) 0-0 1479 1
3. Houston (1) 0-0 1404 15
4. Kentucky (2) 0-0 1364 7
5. Kansas 0-0 1200 3
5. Baylor 0-0 1200 4
7. Duke 0-0 1168 9
8. UCLA 0-0 1093 11
9. Creighton 0-0 1060
10. Arkansas 0-0 1026 17
11. Tennessee 0-0 880 5
12. Texas 0-0 844 25
13. Indiana 0-0 745
14. TCU 0-0 735
15. Auburn 0-0 623 8
16. Villanova 0-0 578 6
17. Arizona 0-0 543 2
18. Virginia 0-0 462
19. San Diego St. 0-0 394
20. Alabama 0-0 281
21. Oregon 0-0 260
22. Michigan 0-0 229
23. Illinois 0-0 215 19
24. Dayton 0-0 170
25. Texas Tech 0-0 122 12

Others receiving votes: Texas A&M 112, UConn 101, Miami 66, Purdue 56, Saint Louis 36, Michigan St. 35, Florida St. 32, Xavier 29, Wyoming 25, Ohio St. 23, Iowa 13, Rutgers 4, Southern Cal 3, Florida 3, Toledo 1, UAB 1, Memphis 1, Virginia Tech 1, Notre Dame 1.

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