Duke Blue Devils Top College Basketball Preseason Rankings
The 2016 NCAA college football preseason rankings were released on Thursday, and after months of speculation, it has been confirmed that the Duke Blue Devils are the top ranked team in the country. The news will certainly give the Blue Devils favorable NCAA basketball odds, but it doesn’t guarantee that they will win the national championship.
The Blue Devils received 27 of 32 first place votes, while Kansas was ranked second and defending champions Villanova were third. The rest of the top five were rounded up by the Kentucky Wildcats and Oregon Ducks.
Duke has been one of the most successful programs since Coach K took over in Durham, and every year, they are always on of the top ranked teams. This season, Duke has a lot of talent in players like Grayson Allen, Amile Jefferson, and Matt Jones, who are all returning players.
The Blue Devils also have some talented freshman coming in like Harry Giles, who was ESPN’s top rated recruit. However, offseason surgery will keep Giles out of the lineup at the beginning of the season.
Great news for college basketball fans is that we will find out who the best team is very early as the Blue Devils and Jayhawks are scheduled to play each other on November 15, during the Champions Classic at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Obviously, since it is still early in the season, the game won’t have as much significance as it would if both teams were playing in March or April. But it will still give the winning team some confidence and bragging rights early in the season.
Kentucky is another team to look out for because John Calipari always finds a way to get some of the best players in the country to come to Lexington. Calipari has been able to achieve a lot of success in Kentucky despite a lot of his players declaring for the NBA after one season at the school.
Kentucky will get its first test of the season against the Michigan State Spartans, who are ranked 9th. They too will play at the Champions Classic in early November.
Another team that will make some noise this year and challenge Duke for the ACC crown is North Carolina, which is ranked 6th. Not only is North Carolina Duke’s biggest rival, they are also a very deep team that can go all the way if they remain healthy, which they couldn’t do last year.
After a disappointing season by their standards, the University of Virginia Cavaliers, who are ranked 7th, will be trying to get back to the top of the ACC once again, and will prove to be a handful for both the Blue Devils and Tar Heels this season.
Xavier, which returns three players from a team that won 28 games last year is ranked 8th, and considered a trendy pick to win the NCAA tournament. Wisconsin was ranked 10th, and is expected to be the biggest threat to Michigan State in the Big Ten.
Louisville escaped a major NCAA violation unscathed and is ranked 14 to start the season. Talent wise, the Cardinals can hang with anybody, but it is unclear if they will have head coach Rick Pitino for the whole season, which is why they are considered the biggest wildcard going into the season.