Duke Basketball: Blue Devils to start season ranked No. 4 in AP Poll

Duke basketball (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Duke basketball (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

The Duke basketball team will not start the 2018-19 season ranked No. 1, but one win could get the Blue Devils there by the time the next poll comes out.

When the Champions Classic, which includes a game between Michigan State and Kansas followed by the Duke basketball squad’s season opener against Kentucky, wraps up before midnight on Nov. 6 — barring the night does not include a multiple-overtime thriller — it will likely be clear which powerhouse program should be ranked No. 1 when the next AP Poll comes out.

As it is, though, the preseason AP Top 25 Poll, which was released on Monday, has the Jayhawks in the top spot, followed by Kentucky, Gonzaga, Duke, and Virginia to round out the top five.

As for first-place votes, Kansas received 37, Kentucky received 19, Duke received four, Virginia received two, and Gonzaga, Tennessee (ranked No. 6), and Villanova (ranked No. 9) each received one.

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But if Kansas and Kentucky both lose on Nov. 6, the top 10 is sure to drastically change. Duke would jump to No. 1 and 10th-ranked Michigan State would almost certainly propel into the top three.

If Kansas wins and Kentucky loses, the Blue Devils could still have an argument to snag the top spot, depending on how much they win by over the Wildcats and how dominant they look in doing so.

In other words, this preseason poll doesn’t mean much for Duke, which lost its starting five from last season’s squad that finished with a 29-8 record and ranked No. 9 in the final AP Poll but welcomes what is widely considered the sport’s all-time greatest recruiting class.

The Blue Devils will have a shot to prove their worth — and possibly even earn all of the first-place votes, depending on how the Jayhawks fare — right away against the Wildcats.

As for the rest of the ACC other than Duke and Virginia, UNC starts at No. 8, Virginia Tech at No. 15, Syracuse at No. 16, Florida State at No. 17, and Clemson at No. 22. Four other squads from the conference — Notre Dame, Louisville, Miami, and N.C. State — are on the list of “Others receiving votes.”

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