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UNC Basketball: Heels ranked 9th in preseason AP poll

People forget that basketball season starts in two weeks.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Midwest Regional Practice Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Associated Press released its initial top 25 for the 2019-2020 basketball season, and the North Carolina Tar Heels are ranked in the preseason top 10 for a record 40th time.

2019 Final Four participant Michigan State was a near-unanimous selection for the top spot in the first poll, garnering 60 of 65 first-place votes. #2 Kentucky (two) and #3 Kansas (three) split the rest.

ACC foes Duke and Louisville rounded out the top 5, and defending national champion Virginia rounded out the ACC’s ranked teams at #11. The Heels also face #18 Ohio State at home on December 4th, and travel to Spokane, WA for a return visit to #8 Gonzaga on their home-and-home agreement on December 18th.

Ohio State (the Heels ACC/Big Ten Challenge game) will likely be the first ranked opponent the Heels face this season, but with an early-season trip to Virginia three days later, the schedule ramps up in a hurry.

The initial top 25 is as follows:

  1. Michigan State
  2. Kentucky
  3. Kansas
  4. Duke
  5. Louisville
  6. Florida
  7. Maryland
  8. Gonzaga
  9. North Carolina
  10. Villanova
  11. Virginia
  12. Seton Hall
  13. Texas Tech
  14. Memphis
  15. Oregon
  16. Baylor
  17. Utah State
  18. Ohio State
  19. Xavier
  20. Saint Mary’s
  21. Arizona
  22. LSU
  23. Purdue
  24. Auburn
  25. VCU

Carolina’s opener is in just 16 days: a made-to-pressure-TV-networks-to-pick-up-the-ACC-Network game at home against Notre Dame.