Men's and women's NCAA basketball preseason polls dropped over the last two days
The GIST: Though the official road to March Madness doesn’t tip off for almost three more weeks (not that we’re counting…), the men’s and women’s preseason polls dropped over the last two days. Here’s whose sneaks are already squeaking around the rankings’ court.
The men: Last season’s runners-up, the UNC Tar Heels, start this season atop the ranks, marking the record-extending 10th (!!!) time that UNC’s nabbed the preseason No. 1 honors. The Carolina Blue have five returning starters, including star center Armando Bacot.
- But hot on their (tar) heels? Gonzaga (with returning star Drew Timme), Houston and Kentucky, who clock in at Nos. 2, 3 and 4, respectively. As for last year’s champs, Kansas begins the season tied at No. 5 with Big 12 rival Baylor.
- While the Big 12 and SEC boast five ranked teams each, the Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC each have a cool three, a big surprise considering the Big Ten sent nine teams — more than any other conference — to last year’s tourney. Fair punishment considering only two Big Ten squads advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and none to the Elite Eight.
The women: No need to adjust your bracket (or their crowns) because the national champ South Carolina Gamecocks lead the women’s preseason poll for the third straight season. And that’s not their only streak: The last time Dawn Staley’s squad wasn’t No. 1? March 15th, 2021, when they came in at No. 6. Damn.
- Speaking of the number six, for the first time since 2006, the UConn Huskies begin play outside of the Top 5, tipping off at No. 6 with their star guard, Paige Bueckers, out for the season.
- And for the first time ever, No. 21 Creighton, No. 23 South Dakota State and No. 24 Princeton made the ranks. Princeton is also the first Ivy League team to make the poll, while Creighton is being rewarded for their Elite Eight Cinderella run last year. Glass slippers always slay.