The Washington Times - October 26, 2007, 03:54PM
The Associated Press

\ The AP has done great work with transparency with its major polls (such as this page for its football voters). There’s a basketball page, too, and you’ll find a link to that here whenever the preseason poll is released.\

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\ There was the temptation over the next week to gradually run down a top 40 (I actually keep a top 45 week to week during the season so I am certain I’m paying attention to nearly anyone who merits consideration for a ranking). But I’m no Casey Kasem, and dishing long-distance dedications honestly seems like a rather ponderous way of going about things anyway.\

\ So instead, I’ll just drop the entire top 40 in at once and let the comments fly. First, though, some caveats.\

\ * Anyone who tells you they’re not making an educated guess when putting together a preseason ranking is either lying or deluded. I like the top five teams decidedly more than everyone else, but anyone could tell you North Carolina, UCLA, Memphis, Georgetown and Kansas are going to be good.\

\ * North Carolina fans who don’t like my voting practices – this is not an olive branch. Yet again, I really believe the Tar Heels are the nation’s No. 1 team in the preseason. And I even have Tyler Hansbrough on my preseason All-America team, too.\

\ * If there is a league a little underappreciated on this list, it’s the SEC. And if the list extended to 45, Alabama, Mississippi State and Georgia would all pop up (if it made it to 50, Vanderbilt would be there, too). Fearless forecast before a game is even played: One of those four winds up in the Sweet 16 anyway.\

\ * Other teams I’m fully aware could be top-25 caliber: Missouri, Notre Dame, Washington, George Mason and Saint Joseph’s.\

\ * Fortunately, these polls don’t mean all that much in basketball, a sport that fortunately decides its champion in a fairly rational way. So carry that rationality into this discussion, since there’s only a glance back at last year and the optimism endemic to the preseason to work from.\

\ Don’t worry, this top 40 (which will be posted each week in this space) will look quite a bit different a month from now. By then, everyone should have a much better idea of how things will shape up down the road.\

\ 1. North Carolina\ 2. UCLA\ 3. Memphis\ 4. Georgetown \ 5. Kansas\ 6. Michigan State\ 7. Washington State\ 8. Louisville\ 9. Indiana\ 10. Tennessee\ 11. Marquette\ 12. Oregon\ 13. N.C. State\ 14. Texas A&M;\ 15. Texas\ 16. Southern California\ 17. Pittsburgh\ 18. Gonzaga\ 19. Kansas State\ 20. Kentucky\ 21. Butler\ 22. Duke\ 23. Villanova\ 24. Southern Illinois\ 25. Arizona\ 26. Stanford\ 27. Arkansas\ 28. Xavier\ 29. Wisconsin\ 30. Davidson\ 31. Virginia\ 32. Florida\ 33. Syracuse\ 34. Maryland\ 35. Clemson\ 36. Connecticut\ 37. Ohio State\ 38. Virginia Commonwealth\ 39. Bradley\ 40. New Mexico State\

\ Discuss. Enjoy. And savor the fact college hoops will be back in less than two weeks.\

\ – Patrick Stevens