The college basketball season will open with a pair of No. 1-ranked teams.
Gonzaga, No. 1 by one point over Baylor in the AP preseason poll released Monday, is No. 2 in the USA Today rankings, two points behind the Bears. It was the closest vote in the coaches preseason poll since Kentucky and North Carolina shared first in 2015.
Baylor had 12 of 32 possible first-place votes and 764 points in the USA Today poll released Thursday. The Zags received 10 first-place votes and 762 points. Villanova, national champions in 2016 and 2018, was third with eight first-place votes and 755 points, followed by Virginia (666 points).
The top two teams should have several opportunities to change the minds of AP and USA Today voters, including a head-to-head meeting Dec. 5 in Indianapolis. The Zags are expected to meet No. 5 Kansas on Nov. 26 in Fort Myers, Florida; No. 14 Tennessee in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 2 in Indianapolis; and No. 6 Iowa on Dec. 19 in South Dakota.
Baylor opens against No. 17 Arizona State on Nov. 25 in Uncasville, Connecticut, and faces either No. 3 Villanova or Boston College the following day. The Bears face Seton Hall on Nov. 29.
Baylor is expected to face No. 10 Illinois in the other half of the Jimmy V Classic doubleheader, but all four schools are awaiting an official announcement.
The Bears are preseason favorites to win the Big 12 Conference, which had five teams in the Top 25. The Big Ten led the way with six.
Iowa and No. 8 Duke each received one first-place vote.
BYU, picked second in the West Coast Conference preseason poll, received eight points and Saint Mary’s one.
Gonzaga’s highest ranking in the USA Today preseason poll had been No. 7 last season and in 2005-06.
The Zags were No. 1 in USA Today’s way-too-early rankings in mid-March, released shortly after the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Baylor was No. 2, followed by Virginia, Kentucky and Creighton. Villanova wasn’t in the top 10.
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