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October 31, 2013
For the past month, Arizona has teetered between the top five and top 10 in most preseason rankings from various outlets. The Associated Press Top 25 released Thursday morning put the Wildcats directly on the fringe.
Arizona will enter head coach Sean Miller's fifth season in Tucson ranked sixth, its highest preseason AP ranking since 2003 (fourth). The slot is one below the No. 5 billing from the USA Today preseason coaches' poll released earlier this month.
The Wildcats, who won 27 games and made a trip to the Sweet 16 last season, return three-fifths of their starting lineup and will incorporate three key new pieces in five-star freshmen forwards Aaron Gordon and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Duquesne transfer point guard T.J. McConnell.
Kentucky, coming off a disappointing season capped by a first-round NIT loss, is ranked No. 1 after collecting 27 of 65 first-place votes. Head coach John Calipari has reloaded with six five-star freshmen - all ranked within Rivals.com's top 20 in the 2013 class - headlined by No. 2 overall prospect Julius Randle.
Rounding out the top five, in order, are: Michigan State (22 first-place votes), defending national champion Louisville (14 votes), Duke (two votes) and Kansas.
The No. 4 Blue Devils and Arizona are in the same NIT Season Tip Off tournament in mid-November, but on opposite ends of the bracket. Should the teams meet when the event shifts to New York City, that would give UA four opponents ranked in the preseason poll.
Arizona also will meet No. 7 Michigan, No. 19 Oregon and No. 22 UCLA. Other opponents who received votes include Colorado, Arizona State, UNLV, Washington and Stanford.
The Wildcats, favorites in the Pac-12 Conference this season, have now been ranked in the last 21 preseason AP polls.
GOAZCATS.com Senior Editor
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