Cats No. 1 in Preseason AP poll

Aaron Harrison

For the first time since its 1995-96 championship season and for only the third time in program history, Kentucky will begin the year as the top-ranked team in college basketball.

For the first time since its 1995-96 championship season and for only the third time in program history, Kentucky will begin the year as the top-ranked team in college basketball.

The preseason AP Top 25 poll was released Thursday with the Wildcats claiming the No. 1 ranking. John Calipari's squad received 27 first-place votes.

"It's a nice honor, but it's way too early to figure out who's the best team in the country," Calipari said via a statement released by UK Media Relations. "We may be very talented, but I can't imagine us being the best team in the country at this point."

Rounding out the top five in the preseason poll were No. 2 Michigan State (who UK will play Nov. 12 in the Champions Classic at Chicago's United Center), defending national champion Louisville at No. 3, Duke at No. 4 and Kansas at No. 5.

The Spartans claimed 22 first-place votes in the poll, with the Cardinals (14) and Blue Devils (2) receiving the others.

Arizona, Michigan, Oklahoma State, Syracuse and Florida round out the Top 10.

Calipari has now guided four of his last six teams to the No. 1 ranking, three at UK (2009-10, 2011-12 and 2013-14) and one at Memphis (2007-08). He also had two No. 1 teams at UMass during the 1994-96 seasons, making him one of only two coaches, along with Frank McGuire, to lead three different schools to the top ranking.

Kentucky returns to action Friday in a cross-town exhibition game against Transylvania University at Rupp Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET with live TV coverage on FOX Sports South.

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