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Georgetown nabs No. 8 AP ranking

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2006

Georgetown cracked the top 10 in the Associated Press' men's basketball preseason poll yesterday for the first time in more than a decade.

Georgetown, ranked eighth, will open the program's 100th season Saturday against Hartford at Verizon Center. It is the Hoyas' highest preseason ranking since 1995.

Expectations are high for Georgetown, which returns All-Big East players Jeff Green and Roy Hibbert to a team that finished 23-10 and reached the Sweet 16 before losing to eventual national champion Florida. The Gators were No. 1 in yesterday's poll.

The Hoyas last earned such a lofty preseason ranking before the 1995-1996 season, when Allen Iverson and Victor Page helped Georgetown open at No. 5 and finish 29-8 in John Thompson II's second-to-last NCAA tournament appearance.

Now in his third season, John Thompson III has returned the program to the elite status it first reached under his father. Given the younger Thompson's solid roster and strong recruiting run, Georgetown well could be a rankings staple for several seasons.

Florida, meanwhile, returns all five starters from its title team and was the runaway choice for the top spot, receiving 63 first-place votes and 1,788 points from the 72-member national media panel.

"This ranking has everything to do with what we were able to accomplish last year and nothing to do with this year," Gators coach Billy Donovan said. "We're very honored to be the preseason No 1, but at the same time, we fully realize we have a lot of work ahead of us."

North Carolina received the other nine No. 1 votes and was followed by Kansas and Pittsburgh.

LSU, a Final Four team last season, and UCLA, which lost to Florida in the championship game were fifth and sixth. George Mason, the first mid-major to reach the Final Four and the team the Gators beat in the national semifinals, received just one point, a single 25th-place vote.

Ohio State, which Georgetown beat to reach the Sweet 16, opens at No. 7. Wisconsin and Arizona finish the top 10.

• The Associated Press contributed to this article.