If the Boston Red Sox’s ability to go from a last-place team to a World Series champion in just one season is any indication, a major turnaround may also be in the cards for Kentucky basketball during the 2013-14 campaign. That appears to be the early consensus anyway, as the Wildcats topped the Associated Press Preseason Poll for the first time since 1996 and just the third time overall, in addition to opening in the top slot of the USA Today Coaches Poll.
The No. 1 selection may not be all that surprising since Kentucky is regularly one of the top programs in the country, but it becomes a bit impressive when you consider the fact that the Wildcats spent much of last season unranked, finishing 21-12 overall and without an NCAA Tournament bid for the first time in three years.
The rest of the AP Top 25 featured few surprises, as other perennial powerhouses in Michigan State (No. 2), defending national champion Louisville (No. 3), Duke (No. 4), and Kansas (No. 5) rounded out the top five. However, there were a couple of intriguing selections, such as Oklahoma State tied at No. 8 with Syracuse, Wichita State at No. 16, Oregon at No. 19, and Virginia at No. 24. Click HERE for the full list.
The impact of conference shuffling will be felt essentially across the board this year, as the ACC welcomes Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Pittsburgh, the BIG EAST has been almost completely revamped, and teams in the brand new American Athletic Conference will be in the mix as well. But before league clashes begin, many high-profile early-season tournaments serve to give college basketball fans a very preliminary taste of March Madness, as detailed in some of the notable matchups detailed below.
The Vivid Seats marketplace will be available throughout the year with 2013-14 NCAA basketball tickets for games around the country, as well as the beloved NCAA Tournament and 2014 Final Four, which will which will be held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, for the first time this April.
Champions Classic | Tickets
United Center, Chicago, IL | Date: Nov. 12
Teams: Michigan State vs. Kentucky, Kansas vs. Duke
2K Sports Classic | Tickets
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY | Dates: Nov. 21-22
Teams: Indiana, Connecticutm Washington, Boston College
Coaches vs. Cancer | Tickets
Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY | Dates: Nov. 22-23
Teams: Michigan State, Oklahoma, Seton Hall, Virginia Tech
Hall of Fame Tip-Off | Tickets
Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT | Dates: Nov. 23-24
Teams: Louisville, North Carolina, Richmond, Fairfield, Belmont, Holy Cross, Hofstra, Hartford
Maui Invitational | Tickets
Maui, HI | Dates: Nov. 25-27
Teams: Syracuse, Gonzaga, Baylor, California, Arkansas, Minnesota, Dayton, Chaminade
Preseason NIT | Tickets
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY | Dates: Nov. 27-29
Teams: Duke, Arizona, Alabama, Rutgers
Gotham Classic | Tickets
Madison Square Garden, New York, NY | Dates: Dec. 7-21
Teams: Ohio State, Notre Dame, North Dakota State, Delaware, Bryant