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Early returns: Nevada, Gonzaga, and Loyola see recognition in preseason polls

Is respect being given?

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional-Loyola vs Nevada Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

It’s a beautiful time of year. Previews are trickling in from all corners of the internet, the glossies have appeared at your local grocery store and our rankings will peak their heads out starting next week.

To get in the mood, here’s how others are treating our teams as we head into October.

Gonzaga Bulldogs

Average Rank: 3.14

Individual: 3MW (1), NBC (3), Sporting News (3), Blue Ribbon (3), Athlon (3), ESPN (4), CBS (5)

The Zags are getting the massive preseason respect they deserve. Geno Crandall’s murky eligibility situation notwithstanding, people are trusting that Mark Few will once again mold a national contender out his dynamic returnees and talented newcomers. That seems reasonable given the program’s remarkable consistency. The Zags have finished with offensive and defensive efficiency marks within the top-35 each of the past seven seasons.

I’d tell you where this site — which does cover Gonzaga — has Rui Hachimura, Killian Tillie and Brandon Clarke ranked, but that would defeat the fun.

Nevada Wolf Pack

Average Rank: 6.5

Individual: Athlon (5), CBS (6), NBC (6), ESPN (6), Blue Ribbon (6), 3MW (8), Sporting News (9)

Like with Gonzaga, there’s a preseason consensus on Nevada. The Wolf Pack had a summer full of good news, as they retained Eric Musselman, saw the Martin twins return, continued dominating the transfer market and landed a five-star freshman. While losing seniors Kendall Stephens and Hallice Cooke removes a pair of floor spacers, there’s a case for Nevada to be better than even the 5 ranking that Athlon gave it, given the talent and experience on hand. So if we’re quibbling, it’s a minor upset that someone didn’t pull the trigger and put the Wolf Pack in the top five.

Loyola University Chicago Ramblers

Average Rank: N/A

Individual: ESPN (19), Athlon (25), NBC (just missed — 26)

It figured there was, if nothing else, enough shine still on the Ramblers to land them on a few lists. And that’s not unreasonable, as Porter Morter returns the MVC POY in Clayton Custer, the team’s second-leading scorer in Marques Townes and quite possibly the league’s best big man in Cameron Krutwig. Approximating the country’s 17th-most efficient defense will be a challenge without Donte Ingram and Ben Richardson, but Loyola wasn’t left with an empty cupboard.

Villanova Wildcats

Average Rank: 11.1

Individual: NBC (5), Sporting News (8), 3MW (9), CBS (9), ESPN (10), Athlon (16), Blue Ribbon (21)

Villanova loses a lot from its 2018 National Championship team, but expect these scrappy underdogs to be ready to take on the big boys again.