There’s a study in contrasts at the top of The Associated Press’ first college basketball poll of the season.
North Carolina, which returns most players from a team that finished last season with a 26-10 record, was voted No. 1 in the media poll.
Kentucky, which lost 85,9 percent of its scoring and 77.,3 percent of its rebounding, was voted No. 2.
Kentucky received 10 of the 65 first-place votes in the AP poll. North Carolina received 35 first-place votes.
Maryland, Kansas and Duke rounded out the top five. The rest of the top 10 were Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Gonzaga and Wichita State.
Kentucky was ranked in the top three for the fifth straight year, and sixth time in John Calipari’s seven seasons as coach. The exception was a No. 11 ranking going into the 2010-11 season.
The high ranking repeated another familiar pattern. UK typically loses several underclassmen to the NBA Draft, and replaces them with another set of highly-regarded freshmen.
By contrast, North Carolina returns four starters and nine of its 10 top scorers from last season. The Tar Heels are ranked No. 1 in the first AP poll for a record ninth time. UCLA has been ranked No. 1 in the first poll eight times.
North Carolina was last a pre-season No. 1 in 2011-12.