With just over two weeks to go before we have regular season college basketball, the AP has released its preseason poll and it features four teams from mid-major conferences.
Gonzaga, as always, is the highest-ranked, coming in at No. 8. The Bulldogs are preseason favorites in the West Coast Conference, led by league player of the year candidate Killian Tillie. They lost a ton from last year’s Elite Eight team, but Gonzaga has reloaded in a major way. Tillie and Corey Kispert are the leading returners and will have plenty of talent around them, specifically in grad transfers Admon Gilder and Ryan Woolridge, and an excellent freshman class that includes three ESPN top-100 prospects.
Mountain West favorite Utah State is ranked 17th and will have sky-high expectations, led by Sam Merrill and Neemia Queeta. The Aggies lost just twice after Jan. 12 last year and challenge themselves early with games against LSU, Saint Mary’s, BYU, Florida, and South Florida early on.
The Gaels are just behind Utah State at No. 20 and once again represent Gonzaga’s biggest challenge in the WCC. At 22-12 (plus an NCAA Tournament appearance), Saint Mary’s overachieved last year and return eight of their top nine scorers.
VCU rounds out the Top 25 and should lead a resurgent Atlantic 10. Like Saint Mary’s, the Rams return almost everything from an NCAA Tournament team last year. That includes Marcus Evans and De’Riante Jenkins, who are both preseason all-Atlantic 10 quality. The conference as a whole should help elevate VCU into the national conversation. Davidson, Dayton and Rhode Island are all expected to be strong, meaning the A-10 is a legitimate three- or four-bid league contender.
Davidson and Dayton both found themselves receiving votes for the Top 25 but just outside of the poll itself. Harvard, Vermont, and Liberty are all expected to be NCAA Tournament-caliber and received votes as well. John Feinstein gave his obligatory mid-major vote to Colgate, a team that is favored to win all but one game in the Patriot League, according to KenPom.
Here is the complete poll:
2019-20 Preseason AP Poll
|1||Michigan State (60)||1,619|
Receiving votes: Washington, Colorado, Tennessee, Marquette, Florida State, Davidson, Harvard, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi State, Houston, Georgetown, Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Creighton, Syracuse, NC State, Vermont, Alabama, USC, Liberty, Michigan, Dayton, Colgate, Providence.