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Thoughts on the AP Poll: Duke men's basketball checks in at No. 9

Duke checked in at No. 9 in the first AP rankings of 2021-22.
Duke checked in at No. 9 in the first AP rankings of 2021-22.

The first AP Poll of the year came out today and with that, the Blue Zone is here to give you our thoughts on the rankings. We'll be here every week that Duke men's basketball lands a spot in the Top 25.

Duke atop the conference

To little surprise, the Blue Devils came in as the highest-ranked ACC team at No. 9. The ACC preseason selections do not come out until Tuesday, but it is a very strong possibility that freshman Paolo Banchero is picked as the preseason player of the year and that Duke lands the most first-place votes. That being said, the Blue Devils are dealing with a knee injury that their second-highest ranked recruit in AJ Griffin suffered in practice Oct. 8. Head coach Mike Krzyzewski said that the team is hoping for it to be a matter of weeks until his return. Griffin should eventually pair with Banchero, Jeremy Roach, Trevor Keels, Mark Williams and Wendell Moore Jr., to make for a lethal six-man rotation that also has big man transfer Theo John and forward Joey Baker to play quality minutes. 

ACC reporting for duty

It looks like the committee decided not to hold the conference's subpar 2021 NCAA tournament performance against it. After Florida State and Syracuse carried the ACC with respective Sweet 16 appearances, 4 teams from the conference landed a spot in the season's first rankings. This is a pivotal year in the conference with first-year head coach Hubert Davis at North Carolina and Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski being in his last season. All eyes will be glued to both the Duke and North Carolina situations, but there are certainly other crucial storylines across the conference. What does Earl Grant do in his first year at Boston College? How do Josh Pastner and Georgia Tech follow up their ACC tournament title? Can Mike Brey take his experienced Notre Dame roster back to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2017?

Go Gonzaga go

Again, not much to be surprised about here, but it's official that Gonzaga checks in at No.1 in the preseason Top 25. The Bulldogs return two of their national championship game starters in Drew Timme and Andrew Nembhard, and they add the No. 1 recruit of the 2021 class in Chet Holmgren. There are some questions as to who will round out the rest of the starting five, but head coach Mark Few has plenty of options in Iowa State transfer Rasir Bolton, freshmen Hunter Sallis and Nolan Hickman and sophomores Dominick Harris and Julian Strawther. And better yet, Duke and Gonzaga go head-to-head in Las Vegas Nov. 26. 

Complete rankings:

1. Gonzaga

2. UCLA

3. Kansas

4. Villanova

5. Texas

6. Michigan

7. Purdue

8. Baylor

9. Duke

10. Kentucky

11. Illinois

12. Memphis

13. Oregon

14. Alabama

15. Houston

16. Arkansas

17. Ohio State

18. Tennessee

19. North Carolina

20. Florida State

21. Maryland

22. Auburn

23. St. Bonaventure

24. Connecticut

25. Virginia


Jake C. Piazza

Jake Piazza is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 117th volume.

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