On Monday afternoon, the Associated Press released its annual preseason poll for college basketball. While there were some surprises, the majority of the rankings went as expected. As it relates to Duke, the Blue Devils are seated in familiar territory as the countdown to the regular season continues. The Blue Zone will be here every Monday at noon until March giving you the biggest takeaways from each poll:
Duke checks in at No. 9
Another year, another top-10 preseason ranking for the Blue Devils. This marks the thirteenth consecutive year that Duke has found itself ranked inside the preseason top 10, a testament to great recruiting and superb player development by head coach Mike Krzyzewski and company. With a mix of veterans and newbies making up this year’s squad, the writers placed Duke in a position that is actually a bit lower than recent preseason polls. Before the last two seasons tipped off, the Blue Devils found themselves at No. 4 in the rankings both times. While ninth is nothing to frown at, it is possible that some are underrating Duke as the regular season fast approaches.
Predictable top three
All offseason, many have pointed to Gonzaga, Baylor and Villanova when faced with the question of the best teams in college basketball going into the 2020-21 campaign. Unsurprisingly, those three were at the top of the rankings, in that order. The Zags were selected as the preseason No. 1 for the first time in program history, another testament to the work that Mark Few has done in Spokane, Wash. Baylor held the top spot for much of last season and Villanova has an experienced team that seems ready to contend for a third national championship since 2016.
Early season opponents make way into rankings
Right out of the gates, Duke will be challenged by nonconference foes. The Blue Devils are slated to host No. 13 Michigan State at Cameron Indoor Stadium as part of the Champions Classic, as well as No. 8 Illinois as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Duke will also face No. 4 Virginia and No. 16 North Carolina—the Blue Devils will host the Tar Heels and travel to Chapel Hill as well—during ACC play. Clearly, Duke will have many opportunities to build a resumé throughout the season.
13. Michigan State
14. Texas Tech
15. West Virginia
16. North Carolina
18. Arizona State
21. Florida State
23. Ohio State
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Max Rego is a Trinity senior and an associate sports editor for The Chronicle's 118th volume. He was previously sports managing editor for Volume 117.