UK BASKETBALL | Kentucky ranks No. 1 in Athlon preseason poll

09/07/2015 07:44 PM

LEXINGTON — The 2015-16 college men’s basketball schedule doesn’t tip off for another 66 days, but one national publication has already named the Kentucky Wildcats the team to beat this upcoming season.

Athlon Sports released its preseason top-25 poll on Monday, and slated at No. 1 was UK.

“The Wildcats might not challenge 40–0 again, but Tyler Ulis, Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray should contend for the Final Four.”

Kentucky, of course, started last season a perfect 38-0 before falling 71-64 to Wisconsin in the Final Four — UK’s fourth consecutive appearance in the national semifinals.

The rest of the top 10 is as follows:

  • 1. Kentucky Wildcats
  • 2. Duke Blue Devils
  • 3. North Carolina Tar Heels
  • 4. Maryland Terrapins
  • 5. Virginia Cavaliers
  • 6. Kansas Jayhawks
  • 7. Iowa State Cyclones
  • 8. Arizona Wildcats
  • 9. Oklahoma Sooners
  • 10. Villanova Wildcats

After losing his top six scorers from 2014-15 to the NBA draft, head coach John Calipari reloaded the Wildcats’ roster with his sixth No. 1 recruiting class in seven years, including No. 1 overall prospect Labissiere, No. 12 Murray, No. 13 Isaiah Briscoe, No. 50 Isaac Humphries from Australia, No. 80 Charles Matthews, and junior college All-American transfer Mychal Mulder from Vincennes University.

But don’t forget about the “old guys,” either.

Returning sophomore Tyler Ulis looks to lead Kentucky’s run at another national title from the point guard position, and joining him is lone senior Alex Poythress and juniors Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis, and E.J. Floreal.

The Wildcats are already scheduled to face two of Athlon’s other top-10 teams this season: No. 2 — and reigning national champion — Duke on November 17th at the Champions Classic in Chicago, followed by a trip to No. 6 Kansas on January 30th.

Kentucky opens the 2015-16 season at home on November 13th vs. Albany.

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