College Basketball AP Poll: 4 Thoughts From the First Top 25

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North Carolina forward Leaky Black, left, forward Puff Johnson (14) and guard R.J. Davis (4) congratulate forward Pete Nance (32) after he made a shot against Virginia during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, in Chapel Hill, N.C.
(AP Photo/Chris Seward)
Chase Kiddy @chaseakiddy Oct 17, 2023, 1:11 PM
  • The first AP poll for the 2023-24 college basketball season dropped Oct. 16.
  • Kansas basketball is No. 1 in the poll, matching BetMGM’s futures market.

The first AP Poll for the 2023-24 college basketball season dropped on Monday, Oct. 16. 

That means single-game college basketball odds are just a few more days away. The college basketball season begins on Nov. 6. 

With the poll now out, and hoops fans beginning to dissect it ahead of the upcoming season, I thought I’d share a few early observations about what the poll signals for this year. 

The Poll Loves Kansas, Too

Kansas was arguably the biggest winner from the offseason of college basketball futures betting, as the Jayhawks quickly overtook UConn in the college basketball national championship odds market.

As it turns out, the AP Poll voters seem to favor Kansas as well.

As usual, Kansas signed a strong recruiting class, but it also brought in All-American center Hunter Dickinson via the transfer portal. Dickinson should dominate in a Kansas uniform.

Of course, it’s always possible that AP voters were influenced – either directly or indirectly – by the winds of the betting markets. But it’s just as likely that poll voters and sharp handicappers are both smart basketball projectors who came to the same conclusion. 

Florida Atlantic Picks up Where It Left Off

After FAU’s surprise run to the Final Four, it was widely expected the 2023 status quo would creep in. Bigger programs would come in and make a play for head coach Dusty May, or players would enter the transfer portal in search of bigger and brighter limelights.

But FAU mostly brings back the same team it had last year, which is a huge credit to the program. As a result, FAU will have a chance to go to back-to-back Final Fours, very much like Butler did in 2010-11. The poll slides the Owls in at No. 10. 

Redemption Season for Hubert Davis, North Carolina

North Carolina played in the national championship game in 2021 and missed the NCAA Tournament completely in 2022. 

Both results were probably a little bit fluky, but pressure builds quickly in Chapel Hill. Third-year coach Hubert Davis embarks this season on a campaign of appeasement, hoping to quiet some early rumblings of dissatisfaction. 

The preseason AP Poll marks UNC at No. 19, which is a little bit like college football’s annual No. 17 preseason ranking for Texas. 

“It’s a college basketball blue blood, right? Let’s throw them in somewhere near the bottom of the Top 25.” That kind of thing.

The Heels might quickly mount a bounce-back campaign and compete for the ACC title. They’re +3000 to win the national championship and +375 to win the ACC regular season, so the markets plainly think they’re good enough to be in the mix. But this kind of potentially lackadaisical poll result is a bit of a Rorschach test. You can read it in almost any kind of way. 

Did Alabama Miss Its Window?

Alabama earned the No. 1 overall seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament and was a clear title favorite for most of the season. Then, it lost to San Diego State in the Sweet 16, and Brandon Miller left for the NBA. So what does Nate Oats’ team look like this year?

It’s … well, good. Not great. Not even a definite NCAA Tocollegurnament team, maybe. But good. 

The Crimson Tide checked in at No. 24 in the preseason poll, and it could be an uphill climb to hold its ground. According to BetMGM’s SEC conference odds, Alabama is a middle-of-the-pack team, trailing Tennessee, Texas A&M, Florida, Kentucky, and Arkansas.

The Tide brought in a ton of size this offseason, with four-star freshman forward Jarin Stevenson topping the list. But coaching this group up and transforming it into a worthy successor to last year’s team will be a tall task for Oats this season.

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About the Author

Chase Kiddy

Read More @chaseakiddy

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.

Chase Kiddy is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of The Lion's Edge, an NFL and college football podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and everywhere else. He has also written for a number of print and online outlets, including the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Washington Post, Daily News-Record, and HERO Sports. His first novel, Cave Paintings, is in development.