Cats No. 3 in opening poll

Cats No. 3 in opening poll

Kentucky will begin its defense of the national championship ranked No. 3 in the country behind only a pair of neighboring rivals. Read more about how the Wildcats stack up in this update.

Much to John Calipari's chagrin, Kentucky will begin defense of its national championship as one of the elite teams in the country.

So sayeth the first edition of this year's AP Top 25 poll.

The Wildcats will open the season ranked No. 3 behind only neighboring rivals Indiana and Louisville.

Calipari has been fond of saying that anyone who votes UK in their top five should be "drug tested" due to the Cats replacing six NBA draft picks and all but one player who appeared in the national title game against Kansas. But UK signed another top-ranked recruiting class and has added a pair of transfers in guards Ryan Harrow and Julius Mays who have prognosticators expecting strong results in Lexington again this season.

The Hoosiers, who return all five starters from last year's team that was eliminated by UK in the Sweet 16, received 43 of 65 first-place votes. IU claimed the top spot for the first time since the 1979-80 season.

Louisville, ousted by the Cats in last year's Final Four, was No. 1 on 20 ballots. Rick Pitino's Cardinals return Peyton Siva and Russ Smith in the backcourt and Chane Behanan and Gorgui Dieng in the frontcourt.

Kentucky picked up two first-place votes.

The Big Ten's Ohio State and Michigan came in at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively, giving a conference three teams in the preseason top five for the first time since the Big East placed UConn, Louisville and Pitt in the top five to start the 2008-09 season.

N.C. State, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse and Florida round out the Top 10.

North Carolina led the next 10, followed by Arizona, UCLA, Michigan State, new SEC member Missouri, Creighton, Memphis, UNLV, Baylor and San Diego State.

The last five included Gonzaga, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Cincinnati and Florida State.

The only other SEC team to receive votes was Tennessee with 15.

Murray State was just on the cusp of the Top 25, receiving 59 votes.

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