The USA Today Coaches Poll was released Thursday, with the Wildcats grabbing the No. 1 spot ahead of Arizona. The Sporting News' preseason magazine had Arizona as its top team.
The Associated Press Top 25 is expected to be released on Oct. 31.
Duke, Wisconsin and Kansas completed the top five. The Badgers lost to Kentucky in the Final Four last April at AT&T Stadium in North Texas, and on Thursday they were picked to win the Big Ten by the league's media.
Kentucky and Duke have long been projected to have two of the top incoming classes in the country, with Arizona holding one of the top returning teams.
North Carolina, with likely first-team all-American Marcus Paige back at the point, leads the second half of the top 10, followed by Final Four participant Florida, ACC regular-season and tournament champion Virginia, new ACC member Louisville and Texas. The Longhorns have one of the top newcomers in the country in center Myles Turner.
Wichita State, which finished the regular season undefeated and lost to Kentucky in the round of 32, checked in at No. 11, followed by Villanova, Gonzaga, Iowa State and defending champion UConn.
VCU, which was picked to win the A-10 earlier this week, came in at No. 16, followed by Mountain West Conference favorite San Diego State, Michigan State, Oklahoma and Ohio State.
Nebraska, which reached the NCAA tournament last season for the first time since 1998, was at No. 21, followed by SMU, Michigan, Syracuse and Iowa.