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October 20, 2016

Villanova opens third in USA Today Coaches Poll

Jay Wright returns quite a bit of talent from the team that cut down the nets in Houston last season, but the defending champs didn’t open up atop the preseason coaches’ poll. Villanova was ranked third, behind Duke and Kansas and just ahead of Kentucky.

Duke, which returns Grayson Allen and pretty much their entire team from last season, gets back Philly native Amile Jefferson for one more go-round, and adds a stellar recruiting class (get to know Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum, Sixers fans), is the strong preseason No. 1: The Blue Devils received 27 of 33 first-place votes (Nova got one) Here is how the rest of the preseason top-10 shook out:

1.    Duke
2.    Kansas
3.    Villanova
4.    Kentucky
5.    Oregon
6.    North Carolina
7.    Virginia
8.    Xavier
9.    Michigan State
10.  Wisconsin

Villanova has No. 7 Virginia and No. 8 Xavier (twice) on the schedule, and all three of those matchups should draw national interest. The Wildcats open up their season on Friday, November 11th against Lafayette at the Wells Fargo Center.

In related news, Hart was recently tabbed along with Allen by Sports Illustrated as one of two national player of the year frontrunners.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann