The Oregon Ducks men’s basketball team had one of its best seasons in program history last year, making it all the way to the Elite Eight before having its season end in a heartbreaking 80-68 loss to the Oklahoma Sooners.
That postseason run, which included a win over perennial powerhouse Duke, set the bar high for 2017, not just among the Ducks’ faithful, but also in the minds of college football experts.
The AP Preseason Top 25 Poll was released early Monday, and the Ducks came in at No.5, the highest preseason ranking in program history, and received one first place vote.
The only teams ahead of Oregon: No.1 Duke (58 first place votes), No.2 Kentucky (2), No.3 Kansas, and defending champion No. 4 Villanova (4). No.6 Arizona and No.16 UCLA, are the only other Pac-12 schools in the preseason poll.
Take a quick look at the Oregon roster and it's easy to understand why the Ducks have such high expectation. Oregon returns five of its main rotation players, including junior forward Dillon Brooks, sophomore guard Tyler Dorsey and senior center Chris Boucher. The Ducks also add a talented recruiting class that has three Rivals four-star recruits - point guard Payton Pritchard (the highest rated recruit in the state of Oregon), guard/forward Keith Smith and guard M.J. Cage – the Ducks also bring in junior college transfer Kavell Bigby-Williams. Bigby-Willams, the 2015-16 NJCAA Player of the Year, adds instant depth to the bench. Factor in the other talented recruits and returning talents, and the Ducks could easily go 10 deep in the rotation.
[LINK - Aaron Fentress preview Ducks Basketball Season]
The AP poll isn't the only place the Ducks are getting love. Oregon also came in at No.5 in last week’s USA Today Coaches Poll, which was also a program best, and was selected as a favorite to win the conference in the Pac-12 media poll.
Fans don’t have to wait much longer to see if the team can live up to the preseason hype. The Ducks season kicks off November 7th when the Ducks host Northwest Christian.