It's been a long climb back to relevancy for Utah basketball, and the Utes took another step in that direction today. For the first time since 2008-09 season, Utah basketball is in the rankings. While this is not a major development, it is a nice tip of the cap to the Utes, especially after the way the program bottomed out.
With a strong returning lineup, led by Delon Wright and Jordan Loverage, plus a mix of highly touted freshmen, Utah is one of the favorites in the Pac-12 conference, being picked No. 2 in the conference just last week. Arizona is the only other Pac-12 team in the preseason rankings.
Here is the press release from Utah Athletics today:
SALT LAKE CITY - The Associated Press released its 2014-15 preseason poll on Friday, and Utah will start the season in the top 25 for the first time since the 2000-01 season.
The Utes, who have not been ranked since the final poll of the 2008-09 season, won 21 games last year and return their top six scorers. Last week, the team was selected to finish second in the Pac-12 preseason media poll.
Utah's 2014-15 schedule includes at least five games against teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 20: No. 2 Arizona (twice), No. 5 Kansas, No. 11 Wichita State and No. 16 San Diego State.
Utah will be playing three Top-20 teams in the non-conference portion of its schedule since 1996 (Arizona, Texas and Wake Forest). Heading into this season, Utah has only played one top-20 program since the 2009-10 season, and has not played multiple teams since 1999-2000. Utah played four top-20 teams in the non-conference during the 1956-57 and 1970-71 seasons.
In its history, Utah has been ranked for a total of 230 weeks with a record of 296-90 (.767). The Utes were ranked for 65 consecutive weeks (3/6/95 - 12/8/98) and reached the No. 2 slot to close the 1996-97 season.
Utah kicks off the season with an exhibition game on November 6th against Pacific (Ore), and kicks off the regular season against Ball State on Novemeber 14th.
2014-15 AP Preseason Top 25
|1||Kentucky Wildcats (52)||0-0||1604|
|2||Arizona Wildcats (5)||0-0||1518|
|3||Wisconsin Badgers (8)||0-0||1483|
|4||Duke Blue Devils||0-0||1415|
|6||North Carolina Tar Heels||0-0||1274|
|11||Wichita State Shockers||0-0||1027|
|14||Iowa State Cyclones||0-0||781|
|15||Virginia Commonwealth Rams||0-0||574|
|16||San Diego State Aztecs||0-0||560|
|18||Michigan State Spartans||0-0||521|
|20||Ohio State Buckeyes||0-0||340|
|Others Receiving Votes: Utah 98, Stanford 71, Iowa 58, Colorado 57, UCLA 35, Minnesota 34, Kansas St. 27, Arkansas 21, Pittsburgh 20, Memphis 15, N.C. State 14, Louisiana Tech 9, Cincinnati 8, LSU 8, Geo. Wash. 7, Oklahoma St. 6, Notre Dame 6, Dayton 6, Florida St. 5, Georgetown 5, Maryland 3, Illinois 3, UNLV 2, BYU 2, UTEP 1, S.F. Austin 1, Baylor 1, West Virginia 1|