Monday brought on the reveal of the 2019 Preseason AP Top 25 poll. The Southeastern Conference has a solid presence in it, with four teams in the mix including two in the Top 10.
The Kentucky Wildcats and Florida Gators are those two teams starting off in the Top 10 this year. The Wildcats sit second in the nation behind the Michigan State Spartans, who got an overwhelming amount of first place votes. The Spartans got 60 first place votes to Kentucky’s two, as the other three went to the third-ranked Kansas Jayhawks.
UK is obviously used to this type of start. The Wildcats have now begun the year ranked no worse than fifth in each of the last nine seasons, and 10 of the last 11. Sure enough, that comprises all of John Calipari’s tenure in Lexington. Says a lot, right? The ‘Cats have plenty of talent like always, with Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans and E.J. Montgomery coming back, along with freshmen Tyrese Maxey, Keion Brooks Jr. and Kahlil Whitney, among others.
Florida, meanwhile, is down a few rungs at sixth to start the year. This continues a pretty good trend for the Gators, as they have started in the Top 10 the last seven times that they have been included in the Preseason AP Top 25 (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 and now 2019). Sixth is their highest spot since they started the year ranked at the top in the 2006-07 season, a year that culminated with them cutting down the nets in Atlanta. Which, coincidentally, is where the Final Four will be this coming April.
Florida’s high ranking makes sense when you consider who they have aboard. Andrew Nembhard leads the way as one of the best guards in the entire country. He along with Keyontae Johnson, Noah Locke and freshman standout Scottie Lewis will be a backcourt to be reckoned with this year.
Meanwhile, the LSU Tigers will start in the AP Top 25 for the second consecutive season. The Tigers rank 22nd, a spot above their ranking of 23rd to begin the 2018-19 season. LSU comes in with a lot of promise after a Sweet 16 appearance a year ago and a 16-2 run in conference play. They may have lost Tremont Waters to the NBA, but they still have Skylar Mays, Ja’Vonte Smart, Emmitt Williams and Darius Days, among others like freshman standout Trendon Watford.
A year after making the Final Four, the Auburn Tigers round out the SEC’s presence in the Top 25. The Tigers rank 24th to start the year, a spot above the VCU Rams. Auburn lost a decent chunk, but still have Samir Doughty, Danjel Purifoy, Anfernee McLemore and Austin Wiley around and six scholarship freshmen who should provide solid depth for them.
Here’s the full poll:
Preseason AP Top 25
|1||Michigan State Spartans||1,619 (60)|
|2||Kentucky Wildcats||1,497 (2)|
|3||Kansas Jayhawks||1,457 (3)|
|4||Duke Blue Devils||1,399|
|9||North Carolina Tar Heels||1,060|
|12||Seton Hall Pirates||863|
|13||Texas Tech Red Raiders||837|
|17||Utah State Aggies||491|
|18||Ohio State Buckeyes||407|
|20||Saint Mary's (CA) Gaels||330|