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Virginia just misses making AP's college basketball preseason poll

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USA TODAY Sports

Virginia just misses making AP's college basketball preseason poll

Duke is No. 1 in AP preseason poll for second straight year

Duke was in good position to be ranked No. 1 in The Associated Press poll before landing Marvin Bagley III. Once the nation's top recruit decided to reclassify for this season, the Blue Devils became the voters' clear choice.

Led by Bagley and senior guard Grayson Allen, Duke was the preseason No. 1 for the second straight season a ninth time overall, matching rival North Carolina for most all-time. The Blue Devils received 33 of 65 first-place votes from a national media panel in the AP Top 25 released on Wednesday.

No. 2 Michigan State received 13 first-place votes, No. 3 Arizona had 18 and No. 4 Kansas got one.

Kentucky rounded out the top 5, followed by Villanova, Wichita State and Florida. Defending national champion North Carolina is No. 9 and Southern California is 10th.

West Virginia was No. 11, followed by Cincinnati, Miami, Notre Dame, Minnesota, Louisville, Xavier, 2017 national runner-up Gonzaga and No. 19 Northwestern, which is ranked in the preseason poll for the first time.

Purdue was No. 20, with UCLA, Saint Mary's, Seton Hall, Baylor and Texas A&M filling the final five spots.

North Carolina was ranked No. 6 in the 2016 preseason poll before going on to beat Gonzaga for its sixth national title.

Duke had three players leave school early, but coach Mike Krzyzewski restocked the Blue Devils with another stellar recruiting class. The class is led by Bagley, an athletic 6-foot-11 forward was widely considered the No. 1 recruit of the 2018 class before reclassifying.

Duke, which lost to Final Four-bound South Carolina in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, is ranked No. 1 for the 129th time, five behind all-time leader UCLA. The Blue Devils were first the preseason No. 1 in 1978-79 and finished seventh in last year's final poll.

"It is an honor to be picked No. 1 in your sport," Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "At this time of the year, it truly is a prediction, so you haven't earned No. 1 yet. More than likely, past teams that have played at Duke have put this team in a position where people might say, `How is that team going to do?' or `They have a lot of talent' and all of the sudden, you're No. 1. Certainly, it's an honor and we'll look forward to trying to achieve and earn that ranking at some time during the season, hopefully at the end."

The Atlantic Coast Conference had the most ranked teams with five, while the Big 12 and Big Ten had four each. The Big East and Pac-12 each had three.

Kansas extended the nation's longest consecutive poll streak with its 162nd straight Top 25, a run that started on Feb. 3, 2009. Arizona is next with 98.

Arizona, USC and Louisville enter the season clouded in uncertainty after assistant coaches from Arizona and USC -- along with Auburn and Oklahoma State -- were arrested in a federal investigation into bribing players. Louisville will play under interim coach David Padgett after coach Rick Pitino was fired in the wake of the scandal that alleged that a recruit was supposed to receive payments from Adidas for committing to the Cardinals.

2017-18 College Basketball Preseason AP Top 25 Poll

Rank, Team (First Place Votes), 2016-17 Record, Previous
1. Duke (33): 28-9, 7 
2. Michigan St. (13): 20-15, NR 
3. Arizona (18): 32-5, 4 
4. Kansas (1): 31-5, 3 
5. Kentucky: 32-6, 6 
6. Villanova: 32-4, 1 
7. Wichita State: 31-5, 19 
8. Florida: 27-9, 20 
9. North Carolina: 33-7, 5 
10. Southern Cal: 26-10, NR 
11. West Virginia: 28-9, 13 
12. Cincinnati: 30-6, 18 
13. Miami: 21-12, NR 
14. Notre Dame:  26-10, 14 
15. Minnesota: 24-10, NR 
16. Louisville: 25-9, 10 
17. Xavier: 24-14, NR 
18. Gonzaga: 37-2, 2 
19. Northwestern: 24-12, NR 
20. Purdue: 27-8, 15 
21. UCLA: 31-5, 8 
22. Saint Mary's (CA): 29-5, 22 
23. Seton Hall: 21-12, NR 
24. Baylor: 27-8, 12 
25. Texas A&M: 16-15, NR
 

Others receiving votes: Alabama 86, Virginia 57, Rhode Island 49, TCU 46, Providence 34, Missouri 19, Virginia Tech 16, Wisconsin 14, Butler 13, Texas 10, Maryland 7, Oklahoma 7, Nevada 7, Michigan 6, Dayton 5, Middle Tennessee 4, Ball St. 4, SMU 3, Oakland 2, Oregon 2, South Carolina 1, Harvard 1, UCF 1.

College Football Week 12 What to Watch: Virginia Tech looks to extend bowl streak to 27

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College Football Week 12 What to Watch: Virginia Tech looks to extend bowl streak to 27

Virginia Tech sits one win away from bowl eligibility, Penn State will look to rebound from its first loss and Navy has its sights set on the Cotton Bowl, but they will have to go through the Irish first.

Here is a breakdown of all the local action.

No. 9 Penn State vs. Indiana

When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa.
How to watch: ABC

Penn State is coming off its first loss of the year and now returns home to host a sneaky good Indiana team that enters this game with four straight wins. No one needs a rebound more than quarterback Sean Clifford who threw three interceptions against Minnesota after throwing only three interceptions total in the eight games prior. Indiana boasts the 34th best defense in the country and the 9th best pass defense.

Also in need of a rebound will be the Nittany Lions defense which yielded 461 yards to the Golden Gophers.  Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. is out for the season, but Peyton Ramsey is not exactly coming cold off the bench. He has started in three games this season and played in seven.

The Hoosiers' offense has been able to find consistent success this season scoring at least 31 points in eight out of nine games.

No. 23 Navy at No. 16 Notre Dame

When: 2:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Notre Dame Stadium, Notre Dame, Ind.
How to watch: NBC

There's always a lot on the line when these two traditional rivals meet, but that is especially true this year as both teams remain in the running for a New Year's Six bowl.

Both teams enter this game ranked for the first time since 1978.  Navy has won five straight and has its sights set on the Group of 5 teams' bid to the Cotton Bowl. Winning the AAC won't be enough, however, Navy has to beat out the other competitors in the rankings as well. That's what makes this game so critical.

A loss to Notre Dame won't affect the conference standings, but it will likely drop the Midshipmen out of the rankings next week. That means Navy will not only have to run the table and win the conference, but it will need help to make sure other Group of 5 teams, such as Boise State and Appalachian State remain below them in the final standings.

Virginia Tech at Georgia Tech

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Bobby Dodd Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington

A remarkable turnaround has Virginia Tech within one win of reaching bowl eligibility and extending their bowl streak to 27 years. The Hokies will hope to reach that on Saturday against Georgia Tech.

The Hokies are coming off of their best game of the season, a 36-17 win over Wake Forest. Hendon Hooker was back under center and continues to show signs of improvement every week. Suddenly the offense is running the ball with consistency. The defense has also come alive after being left for dead earlier in the season. Bud Foster's defense completely shut down the Deamon Deacons and now has what looks to be a much easier task against Georgia Tech.

It has been a tough season for the Yellow Jackets who are transitioning away from the option offense. Georgia Tech sits in last in the Coastal standings while Virginia Tech controls its destiny. Another win will put the Hokies one step closer to a winner-take-all showdown with Virginia in the season finale.

Game of the week: No. 13 Baylor vs. No. 10 Oklahoma

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: McLane Stadium, Waco, Texas
How to watch: ABC

While Jalen Hurts may have been grabbing all the headlines early in the season, there was no bigger reason for the Sooners' dominant start than the resurgence of the defense. Oklahoma's defense had been putrid in recent years and may have cost them a real shot at the national title after losing in the semifinal of the College Football Playoff in each of the last two seasons. The Sooners' defense had looked much improved until its past two games where it let up 48 points to Kansas State in a loss and 41 points to Iowa State in a narrow one-point victory. The Cyclones were just one two-point conversion away from handing Oklahoma its second straight loss.

Now the Sooners have to play undefeated Baylor who is looking to cement itself as the top team in the Big 12.

The Bears may be undefeated, but they have not been dominant by any stretch. Two of their wins came in multiple overtimes. They also have wins of eight points or fewer against Rice, Iowa State and West Virginia.

But still no losses.

This game may well prove to be Round 1 between these two teams. The Big 12 does not have divisions and instead the No. 1 and 2 teams will play in the conference championship. Right now, Baylor sits in first at 6-0 with Oklahoma second at 5-1. An Oklahoma loss could open the door for two-loss Texas, but an Oklahoma win will likely set things up for a rematch in December.

On NBC Sports Washington

Florida State vs. Alabama State

When: 12 p.m., Saturday
Where: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Fla.
How to watch: NBC Sports Washington Plus

Other local teams

VMI at Army, 12 p.m. Saturday on CBSSN
Georgia at Bucknell, 1 p.m. Saturday
Morgan State vs. Virginia Lynchburg, 1 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
William & Mary vs. Towson, 1 p.m. Saturday
Hampton vs. Kennesaw State, 1 p.m. Saturday on ESPN+
Norfolk State at Delaware State, 2 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3
James Madison vs. Richmond, 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Howard at Florida A&M, 4 p.m. Saturday on ESPN3

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Santos-Silva, defense lead VCU past No. 23 LSU, 84-82

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Santos-Silva, defense lead VCU past No. 23 LSU, 84-82

RICHMOND, Va. -- Will Wade was concerned about turnovers before bringing No. 23 LSU to the Siegel Center, where he spent six seasons and watched VCU frustrate opponents with a frenetic pressing, trapping defensive style. He tried to prepare the Tigers for what they would face.

It didn't work.

"You can't simulate this," Wade said, gesturing toward the arena where the band is loud, the creative fans sit right on top of the court and the sellout streak has reached 137 games. "You can't simulate what they do, and they do it every night."

Former Wade recruit Marcus Santos-Silva had 17 points and 11 rebounds, and VCU turned 26 turnovers into 37 points in an 84-82 victory Wednesday night. The game ended, fittingly, with Skylar Mays losing control on a desperate drive for a tying basket.

"This is my fourth year of college basketball and this is No. 1," Mays said. "This is the toughest environment I've ever played in."

The Rams (3-0), whose contract with Wade mandated he bring his new team to the Siegel Center or have his school pay $250,000, improved to 5-2 against ranked opponents on their home court, and they did it after withstanding a furious rally at the finish.

The Tigers (1-1) took their first lead since early in the first half on two free throws by Mays with 41 seconds left.

"Sometimes you have to put your guts out on the court, make plays, figure it out, find a way," Rams coach Mike Rhoades said.

LSU had a chance after Santos-Silva made one of two free throws with 4.9 seconds left, but Mays lost the ball.

De'Riante Jenkins and Marcus Evans added 15 points each for VCU, which was outscored 46-30 in the paint.

Mays led the Tigers with 23 points, but also had seven turnovers. Javonte Smart added 15 points and Trendon Watford scored 11.

The Rams led for most of the game, but a 15-2 run by the Tigers -- despite a stretch of five turnovers in six possessions -- tied it at 67-all with 8:56 to go. The Rams responded with an 11-4 run started by Santos-Silva to lead 78-71 with 3:22 to play.

"We didn't have much of an answer for Santos-Silva down low," Wade said.

But the Tigers rallied again, scoring 11 of the next 14 points to take an 82-81 lead.

Jenkins, fouled on a 3-point try, then made two of three free throws, and the Tigers missed their final three field-goal tries.

BIG PICTURE

LSU: Wade said he was concerned about how much the Tigers turned the ball over in their opener against Bowling Green, surely with an eye toward the "havoc" style Rhoades has reintroduced at VCU. The Rams made them believers, forcing 12 first-half takeaways and turning them into 24 points.

VCU: The Rams had trouble getting the ball inside, but their 3-point shooting and defense bailed them out, especially during an 18-4 first-half run. In one sequence, Isaac Vann made a 3 for VCU, which then forced a turnover, leading to Evans' 3. The Tigers then turned it over again, leading to a 3 by Vince Williams. All in 53 seconds.

BLISTERING BURST

The Rams bought the crowd to its feet late in the first half with the 18-4 burst that allowed them to open a 48-33 lead.

It was something Wade -- who spent four seasons as an assistant under Shaka Smart and two as VCU's head coach before leaving for LSU in 2017 -- acknowledged having seen many times in the arena.

"It's usually better when you're on the other side," he said.

HE SAID IT

"Now I can go back to rooting for VCU." -- Wade, who was jeered and booed when he appeared on the court. Five Rams fans were dressed as FBI agents near the LSU bench, and others had fake money spilling out of their hats, a reference to last year when Wade was named in a Yahoo Sports report about excerpts of an FBI wiretap that captured the coach speaking with Christian Dawkins, who was convicted of funneling illegal payments to the families of college basketball recruits. Wade denied wrongdoing.

UP NEXT

The Tigers should have a much easier time in their next outing, at home against Nicholls on Saturday.

The Rams continue a six-game homestand to open the season, welcoming Jacksonville State on Sunday.

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