Duke, which returns three starters from the team that fell one game shy of the Final Four last season, was voted No. 1 in The Associated Press college basketball poll Thursday, the fourth time the Blue Devils have held the top spot in the preseason rankings.
This is the first preseason No. 1 ranking for Duke since 1991-92, when it stayed on top all season on the way to a second straight national championship. The other preseason No. 1 rankings were in 1978-79 and 1988-89.
The Blue Devils, who were No. 1 for seven weeks last season and finished 32-4, received 34 first-place votes and 1,747 points from the 72-member national media panel.
"I'm very comfortable with high expectations,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "I have very high expectations for myself and my team all the time. It is when you can't achieve high expectations that pressure comes in."
Connecticut, which has five starters back from its regional final team that went 32-5 last season, was second with 25 first-place votes and 1,734 points, 82 more than Stanford, which has all its starters back from the team that went 30-5 and reached the Final Four. The Cardinal received 12 first-place votes.
Defending national champion Kentucky (35-4) was fourth with the only other No. 1 votes and 1,509 points and was followed in the top 10 by Michigan State, Maryland, Temple, Kansas, Tennessee and Utah.
Duke has five players back who averaged at least 7.6 points per game last season, led by senior guard Trajan Langdon, a two-time all-Atlantic Coast Conference selection, and sophomore forward Elton Brand, who impressed a lot of people despite missing 15 games with a foot injury.
"It's always an honor to be considered among the top teams in the country,'' Krzyzewski said. "We have high expectations for our program every year and hope people's high opinions of us in November are the same iMarch."
North Carolina, which was No. 1 in the final poll last season, was 11th followed by UCLA, Oklahoma State, Washington, Cincinnati, Purdue, Xavier, Arizona and Arkansas. New Mexico and Syracuse tied for 20th and the rest of the Top 25 was Indiana, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Texas Christian.
All but six of the teams in the preseason poll were ranked in the final poll of last season, with No. 9 Tennessee being the highest of this year's newcomers.
Only 15 of the teams in last year's preseason poll finished ranked in the final Top 25. Last year's preseason No. 1 was Arizona, which went on to the regional finals.
The Pac-10 (Stanford, UCLA, Washington and Arizona) and Atlantic 10 (Temple, Xavier, Rhode Island and Massachusetts) led the nine conferences represented in the preseason poll with four teams each. The ACC, Southeastern Conference, Big Ten and Western Athletic Conference had three teams each.
Earlier Thursday Cincinnati lost three scholarships and was placed on two years' probation for violating NCAA rules., it was announced that No. 15 Cincinnati lost three scholarships and was placed on two years' probation for violating NCAA rules.
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