Duke Tops Pre-Season Men's Basketball Poll

By Michael Preston
|  Friday, Oct 22, 2010  |  Updated 3:24 AM PDT
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Lance Thomas of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates after the Devils defeated the Butler Bulldogs 61-59 in the 2010 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball National Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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The Duke dynasty has been rebuilt and now it's looking to reload. On national titles.

Though college football has barely reached its mid-point, it's almost time for basketball to tip off and the defending national champion Blue Devils are sitting atop the first ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll, reports AOL's Fanhouse.

Duke will start its run at a fifth national title with a mostly new cast of characters. Though Kyle Singler, the Most Outstanding Player in last year's Final Four, and guard Nolan Smith return, the Blue Devils lost three starters from last year's team. Picking up the slack will be Kyrie Irving, a top point guard recruit, and Seth Curry, the younger brother of NBA sharpshooter Stephen Curry.

Duke gained 29 of the possible 31 first-place votes. The other two went to the team ranked second in the pre-season, Michigan State. The Spartans reached the Final Four last season for the second consecutive year and have six Final Four appearances in the last 12 seasons. They last won a title in 2000.

Upstart Kansas State took the third spot. The Wildcats return the bulk of last year's 29-8 squad and they are followed by the Pittsburgh Panthers and Ohio State Buckeyes to round out the top five.

The next five teams are Villanova, Kansas, Purdue, North Carolina and Kentucky. Most of those teams lost major stars either to graduation - Scottie Reynolds for Villanova; injury - Robbie Hummel of Purdue has torn his right ACL twice in the last eight months; or jumps to the NBA - Kentucky lost five players in last April's draft, including stars John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins.

Nine teams in the pre-season poll finished last season unranked.

Selected Reading: Fanhouse, ESPN, USA Today

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