Villanova ranked No. 9 in Associated Press preseason poll
The Wildcats lost their top four scorers from last season's national championship team, and will start the new season with a roster that includes eight freshmen and sophomores.
Defending national champion Villanova is ranked ninth in the Associated Press preseason college basketball poll announced Monday.
The Wildcats, who capped their season by defeating Kansas and Michigan in the Final Four to finish 36-4 and win their second national championship in three years, received one first-place vote from the panel of 65 members of the media.
"We're always honored to be ranked in the Top 10," Villanova coach Jay Wright said in a statement. "We're appreciative and thankful to last year's team. They're the ones who probably got us into this spot. We still have a lot of work to prove ourselves this year."
Kansas was voted No. 1 in the preseason, gaining 37 first-place votes, and was followed by No. 2 Kentucky with 19. Third-ranked Gonzaga (1 first-place vote), No. 4 Duke (4), No. 5 Virginia (2) and No. 6 Tennessee (1) also received first-place votes.
The Wildcats lost their top four scorers from last season, all of them moving on to the NBA, and bring a young team into next month's season opener against Morgan State. They have eight freshmen and sophomores on their roster and just three seniors – Phil Booth, Eric Paschall, and graduate transfer Joe Cremo.
Speaking to reporters last month, Wright said high preseason rankings for his team on websites and magazines were "very generous."
"I certainly wouldn't have us as a national title contender, I will tell you that," Wright said. "We've got a lot of work to do. But I do think by the end of the year we could be a good team."
In last year's final AP poll, released just before the start of the NCAA tournament, Villanova was ranked No. 2, trailing only Virginia, which became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed in the tournament. The Wildcats began last season as the nation's sixth-ranked team.
Trailing Tennessee in the new poll are Nevada at No. 7 and North Carolina at No. 8, followed by Villanova and 10th-ranked Michigan State.
The second 10 began with No. 11 Auburn, followed by Kansas State, West Virginia, Oregon, Virginia Tech, Syracuse, Florida State, Mississippi State, Michigan and Texas Christian.
Rounding out the top 25 were UCLA, Clemson, Louisiana State, Purdue and Washington.