Kentucky and its roster full of high school All-Americans is the narrow choice over Michigan State in the Associated Press’ preseason college basketball poll.
The Wildcats, who finished last season with an NIT opening-round loss at Robert Morris, received 27 first-place votes and 1,546 points from the 65-member national media panel.
Michigan is ranked No. 7, while Ohio State is No. 11.
The Spartans, who return four starters from the team that lost to Duke in the NCAA tournament’s round of 16, snared 22 first-place votes and 1,543 points.
The last preseason No. 1 not to be ranked in the final poll of the previous season was Indiana in 1979-80.
Defending national champion Louisville received 14 first-place votes and was third, while Duke, which received the other two No. 1 votes, was fourth.
Kansas was fifth and was followed by Arizona and Michigan. Oklahoma State and Syracuse tied for eighth and Florida rounded out the Top 10.
Ohio State was 11th and was followed by North Carolina, Memphis, VCU, Gonzaga, Wichita State, Marquette, Connecticut, Oregon, and Wisconsin.
The last five ranked teams were Notre Dame, UCLA, New Mexico, Virginia, and Baylor.
This is Kentucky’s third preseason No. 1 and first since 1995-96 when the Wildcats won the national championship. The other preseason No. 1 was in 1980-81. Kentucky was ranked for just one week in the final 16 polls of last season but coach John Calipari enters this season with a roster featuring two returnees — Alex Poythress and Willie Cauley-Stein — and six freshmen who were selected McDonalds All-Americans last season.
Indiana was the preseason No. 1 last season and the Hoosiers were fourth in the final poll.
■ BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University men’s and women’s basketball teams will open the 2013-14 season with home exhibition games at the Stroh Center on Saturday.
The men will host Malone in a contest that will tip off at 2 p.m., and the women will host Tiffin beginning at 4:30 p.m.
The Falcon men return eight lettermen and a pair of starters from last season’s team, which posted a 13-19 overall record and was 7-9 in Mid-American Conference play.
The men will be without senior forward Craig Sealey, who is recovering from offseason knee surgery. Freshman guard Zack Denny is coming back from injury.
The BG women welcome back seven letterwinners and three starters from a year ago, when the Falcons were 24-11 overall and 11-5 in the MAC and advanced to the third round of the WNIT.
Two freshmen, Kennedy Kirkpatrick and Leah Bolton, are not expected to play against Tiffin as they nurse injuries.
COLUMBUS — Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Thursday he is not going anywhere despite reported interest from the University of Texas.
Smith was believed to be among the top three candidates to replace Texas AD DeLoss Dodds, who is retiring in August. Citing a highly placed source at a Big 12 school, the Austin American-Statesman reported Texas intended to interview West Virginia AD Oliver Luck — the perceived frontrunner — Arizona State AD Steve Patterson, and Smith.
In a message on Twitter, Smith wrote, “I’m staying at Ohio State.”
“I have the greatest respect for the University of Texas and one of my mentors, DeLoss Dodds,” Smith added in a statement. “I am fortunate to have the opportunity to be the athletics director at the Ohio State University. Reports of me interviewing at the University of Texas are inaccurate.”
Smith, 57, has been at Ohio State since 2005.
College cross country
The University of Toledo women’s cross country team on Saturday will try to capture the program’s sixth overall title and its first under new head coach Linh Nguyen.
With a victory, UT will become the first MAC women’s cross country team to win four consecutive conference titles since Bowling Green from 1980-83.
Bowling Green is hosting the meet, which begins at 11 a.m. with the men’s race. The women’s race will follow at noon.
Junior Brooke Tullis of Maumee has led the Rockets this season, finishing as the team’s top performer at three meets. She finished 69th at the NCAA Prenational Meet to pace Toledo to a 14th place finish, defeating two teams ranked in the top 20 nationally.
Tullis will be joined by seniors Devyn Ramsay and Kristal Studer, juniors Mackenzie Chojnacky, Priscilla Timmons, Liz Weiler, and Megan Wright, and sophomore Theresa Warsecke.
The UT women won the 2012 MAC Championship in historic fashion, with a record-breaking score of 24 points, besting their mark of 33 points in 2011. Eight of nine runners were awarded All-MAC honors, including first-team All-MAC selections Wright, Weiler, and Tullis.
Toledo (14-10, 7-3 MAC) concludes its home campaign this weekend against Eastern Michigan (14-11, 4-6 MAC) and Central Michigan (11-11, 5-5 MAC). The Rockets will entertain the Eagles at 7 p.m. today and the Chippewas at 3 p.m. Saturday.
Toledo, which is 6-0 at home in MAC play, will look to avenge September losses to both teams.
UT’s five seniors — Dakota Harkins, Jordan Kielty, Adria Pryor, Lauren Rafdal, and Becca Reidy — will be honored in a postmatch ceremony. The quintet represents coach Greg Smith’s first recruiting class.
The Rockets have won seven of their last eight contests and are in second place in the MAC’s West Division. Off to its best start in school history with a 7-3 league ledger, UT trails West Division frontrunner Ball State (20-5, 8-2 MAC).
Toledo’s women’s swimming and diving team (2-0, 1-0 MAC) looks to continue its early season success at home this weekend against Michigan and Ball State.
The Rockets will face the Wolverines at 5 p.m. today and Ball State at 1 p.m. Saturday.
VANCOUVER — Tomas Tatar scored his first goal of the season late in the second period, and the Detroit Red Wings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 2-1 late on Wednesday night.
Daniel Alfredsson had the other goal for the Red Wings (7-4-2), while Jimmy Howard made 19 saves as Detroit snapped a four-game slide.
Daniel Sedin scored for Vancouver.