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Kentucky Earns Preseason No. 4 Ranking in USA Today Coaches Poll

Wenyen Gabriel (Vicky Graff Photo)

Wenyen Gabriel (Vicky Graff Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – For the eighth consecutive season under head coach John Calipari, the Kentucky men’s basketball program will begin the season ranked among the top 25 teams in the country, as voted on by a collection of the nation’s coaches for the USA Today Coaches Poll.

Kentucky will begin the 2016-17 campaign as the country’s No. 4 rated team. The Wildcats also received two first-place votes. Duke will begin the season at No. 1. Kansas and Villanova are just ahead of the Wildcats, while Oregon rounds out the top five. All top-five ranked teams received at least one first-place vote.

UK began each of the last three seasons as the coaches’ poll No. 1 ranked team. The Wildcats have been among the top 25 to begin the year in all eight of Calipari’ s seasons as head coach including starting the season in the top five in seven years. Every team has been voted a preseason top-10 team.

Five Kentucky opponents enter the 2016-17 season ranked. Kansas, who UK will face on Jan. 28 in Rupp Arena, begins the year as the No. 2 ranked team. Kentucky takes on No. 6 North Carolina at the CBS Sports Classic in Las Vegas on Dec. 17.

UK’s first matchup with a top-10 opponent will be at the Champions Classic in Madison Square Garden when the Cats meet the No. 9 Michigan State Spartans. It’s the second consecutive matchup between the two teams when both were preseason top-10 squads. Kentucky will also face No. 14 Louisville and No. 20 UCLA.

Fellow Southeastern Conference members Texas A&M, Florida, Georgia and Arkansas are among the teams receiving votes to begin the season.

Kentucky was predicted to win its 48th SEC regular-season crown as voted on by members of the media. UK tips off its season with the Blue-White Game on Friday at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network. Kentucky’s regular season opens on Nov. 11 with a 7 p.m. tilt against Stephen F. Austin in Rupp Arena.

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