Kentucky, featuring its much ballyhooed freshman class, is the top-ranked team in the USA Today preseason coaches' poll, which was released Thursday.
The Wildcats, whose eight-player freshman contingent includes McDonald's All Americans Dakari Johnson, twins Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Julius Randle and Marcus Lee, received 16 first-place votes. In-state players Dominique Hawkins and Derek Willis round out coach John Calipari's latest crop of talented freshmen.
Kentucky (21-12) was unranked at the end of last season. It is the first time in the 22-year history of the poll that a team begins the season No. 1 after finishing the previous season unranked. The Wildcats last started at No. 1 prior to the 1995-96 season -- finishing at No. 1 in that season as well.
"We know we have a talented team," Andrew Harrison said. "It's just a matter of playing together. You can't really worry about expectations because they're coming from people that have nothing to do with you or your teammates."
No. 2 Michigan State, which returns four starters from last season's Sweet 16 team, had three first-place votes. The Spartans are followed by defending national champion Louisville, which had 10 first-place votes. Duke (three No. 1 votes) and Arizona round out the top five. Kansas, Syracuse, Florida, Michigan and Ohio State complete spots 6-10.
North Carolina (No. 11) and Virginia (No. 25) help the new-look ACC, which now includes Syracuse, Pittsburgh and Notre Dame (No. 22), lead the way with five teams in the preseason poll. The Big Ten has three teams in the top 10.