This is the highest the Coogs have been ranked to start the season since 1983 when the third of the Cougars' Phi Slama Jama teams reached its second consecutive title game. UH made it to the Elite Eight in last season’s NCAA Tournament but were eliminated by the Villanova Wildcats.
The Cougars won the American Athletic Conference regular-season and tournament championships, then powered through their first three NCAA games.
This year’s team returns senior guard Marcus Sasser and junior guard Jamal Snead from last year’s squad. UH received one first-place vote in the preseason balloting.
The Baylor Bears tied for the No. 5 ranking as the next in-state school in the poll. The Texas Longhorns were the next coming in at No. 12.
The Texas Tech Red Raiders rounded out the Top 25 coming in at No. 25.
AP Top 25 Poll
North Carolina surprised just about everyone last year when a talented team led by first-year coach Hubert Davis parlayed a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament into a run to the national title game.
The Tar Heels won't be sneaking up on anyone this year.
With four starters back from the team that lost to Kansas in New Orleans, the 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.
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.
The Bulldogs will once again lean on Drew Timme to deliver coach Mark Few his elusive national title. 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 Big 12 and SEC lead the way with five ranked teams. The Big Ten, Pac 12 and ACC have three apiece and the Big East has two. The West Coast, Atlantic 10, Mountain West and American Athletic conferences each have one team in the poll.
OUTSIDE LOOKING IN
Texas A&M was the first team outside the poll, followed by UConn, which appeared on 24 of 62 ballots. Miami, Purdue and Saint Louis were also eyeing a spot in the Top 25 when the first regular-season poll is released Nov. 14.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
The season begins for most teams Nov. 7, but as usual, the first meeting of heavyweights will be the Champions Classic on Nov. 15 in Indianapolis: No. 4 Kentucky plays Michigan State, unranked in the preseason poll for the second year in a row, before No. 5 Kansas plays No. 7 Duke in the nightcap.