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The UCLA men’s basketball team is ranked No. 22 in the NCAA, according to the Associated Press’ Top 25 preseason poll Monday morning. The Bruins are one of three Pac-12 schools included in the Top 25 along with Arizona State (18) and Oregon (20).
The preseason nod could be attributed to the way the Bruins ended last season, winning 11 of its last 14 games to finish second in the Pac-12 behind reigning champion Oregon. The team returns the entire starting lineup for that winning stretch, including preseason All-American selection Chris Smith. Key returners Jalen Hill, David Singleton, Tyger Campbell and Jaime Jaquez Jr. make up the core of more than 88 percent of its scoring output last season.
It’s the first time the Bruins are ranked in the preseason Top 25 since 2018 when they were ranked No. 21. The team rose to No. 17 that season after starting 3-0, but lost consecutive games to Michigan State and North Carolina which dropped them out of the Top 25. UCLA was never ranked again the remainder of the season.
Gonzaga comes into the season No. 1, followed by Baylor, Villanova, Virginia and Iowa, respectively.
BREAKING: Gonzaga is No. 1 in the preseason AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll; Baylor, Villanova, Virginia and Iowa round out top five.
— AP Top 25 (@AP_Top25) November 9, 2020