The AP's pollsters have had their say, and, according to them, there's no clear favorite in college basketball in 2018-19. Yes, Kansas was voted No. 1, but the Jayhawks received a comparatively modest 57 percent of the possible first-place votes.
Kentucky is right behind KU in the AP poll, and Gonzaga and Duke, in turn, are both breathing down the necks of the Wildcats. Things are tightly bunched at the top, according to the pollsters.
Now it's my turn. Here are my preseason 2018-19 rankings for all 353 teams in Division I, including two brand new D-I members, Cal Baptist and North Alabama.
An annual reminder: I'm not peddling a rating system, per se. Coming up with an automated method for forecasting team performance represents an intriguing analytic challenge, and I, for one, am a delighted consumer of those efforts. Indeed, we're in the golden age of such systems.
But I've also had fair results in the past from simply quantifying prior-year performance, returning experience, new player additions and coaching impacts and then arguing and occasionally even disagreeing with what my laptop says about those things.
Think of the rankings that result as being the product as a lively yet civilized dialogue as opposed to a straight printout. The downside, of course, is that such a dialogue is labor intensive, so I do it just once a year.
This is how D-I looks to me before the first opening tip of the season....