The AP has released their Top-25 preseason poll, and similar to the coaches poll which was released over one week ago, the Indiana Hooisers occupy the number one spot. The Hoosiers received 43 of the 65 total first place votes, with the Louisville Cardinals receiving 20 votes and the Kentucky Wildcats earning the final two first place votes.
This is the first time in 33 years that the Hoosiers have been ranked number one in the preseason poll, going back to when Bob Knight‘s squad featured the likes of Hall-of-Famer Isiah Thomas, current New York Knicks head coach Mike Woodson and fellow NBA players Randy Wittman, Butch Carter and Ray Tolbert. That team failed to win an NCAA title that season, despite beginning the season as the “team to beat”. That is something that current head coach Tom Crean is attempting to avoid happening this time around with his team now wearing the “team to beat” moniker.
Crean is now in his fourth year as the head coach of the Hoosiers, and he has his entire starting five returning from last season’s team that reached the sweet 16 before losing to the eventual champions, Kentucky. That starting five includes their best player and possibly the best seven-footer in the nation, sophomore Cody Zeller who last season averaged 15.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game and could have possibly been a lottery pick in last year’s NBA Draft.
Along with Zeller in that returning staring five, are forwards Christian Watford and Will Sheehy as well as guards Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo who combined for an average of just under 60 points per game last season and should improve on that number this year with another season of maturity under their belt.
The Hoosiers will kick off the 2012-13 campaign on November 9 with a home game versus the Bryant Bulldogs, but won’t have their first true test of the season until they face off against the #11 North Carolina Tar Heels in the ACC/Big 10 Challenge, which will also be in their friendly confines of Assembly Hall.
Will Indiana remain the team to beat all season long and capture the university’s sixth National Championship or will they falter under the pressure of being top dog? This will be one the interesting stories to follow all season long which is set to begin in less than three weeks; stay tuned!