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Thursday, October 21, 2010
Duke atop first coaches' poll

ESPN.com news services

Defending champion Duke begins the 2010-'11 men's college basketball poll on top of the preseason men's basketball ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll.

The Blue Devils received 29 of 31 first-place votes in the poll. No. 2 Michigan State received the other two first-place votes.

Duke figures to have a different look from the team that won 35 games and its ninth ACC tournament title in 12 years before edging Butler in the NCAA title game. The Blue Devils are replacing veteran leaders Jon Scheyer, Brian Zoubek and Lance Thomas with players like freshman point guard Kyrie Irving and transfer Seth Curry, but the expectations are the same.

Michigan State reached the Final Four last season for the second consecutive year, and the Spartans have six Final Four appearances in their past 12 seasons. They haven't won a national title since 2000, though, which is something this group hopes to change. Three of the Spartans' top four and seven of nine scorers are back from last season's team that won 28 games.

Kansas State, with almost everyone coming back from last season's 29-8 team, is ranked No. 3, while Pittsburgh (four starters and seven of eight players returning) and Ohio State, which boasts a glittering recruiting class that some publications pegged as tops in the nation, round out the top five.

No. 6 is Villanova, followed by Kansas, Purdue, North Carolina and No. 10 Kentucky.

Florida is ranked 11th, followed by Gonzaga, Syracuse, Baylor, Missouri, Illinois, Washington, Butler, Memphis and No. 20 Tennessee.

No. 21 is Georgetown, while Temple, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin and Texas round out the poll.

In all, nine teams -- led by No. 9 North Carolina -- that finished last season unranked now hold spots in the preseason poll.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.