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Wildcats check in at No. 4, Duke ranked on top of preseason USA Today Coaches Poll

Despite losing nearly 93 percent of its scoring and almost 77 percent of its rebounding from a season ago, the panel for the USA Today Coaches Poll once again believes the Kentucky men’s basketball team will be among the top teams competing for a national title in 2017-18.

The Wildcats are ranked fourth in the preseason Coaches Poll that was released Thursday. Duke will begin the season at No. 1, followed by Michigan State, Kansas, UK and Arizona.

Full preseason rankings are available at USAToday.com.

It’s the ninth consecutive season under head coach John Calipari that Kentucky will begin the season ranked among the top 25 teams in the country, as voted on by a panel of Division I head coaches in consultation with the National Association of Basketball Coaches.

As a matter of fact, the Wildcats have been ranked preseason top five in the USA Today Coaches Poll in eight of Calipari’s nine seasons, including seven straight. Every team under Calipari has been voted a preseason top-10 team.

The members of the poll represent each of the 32 Division I conferences that receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Each coaches submits a top 25 with a first-place vote worth 25 points, second place 24, and so on down to one point for 25th.

Kentucky will start the season among the early title contenders despite losing eight players from last season’s roster, including three first-round draft picks. Calipari, as he does so every season, has reloaded with a talent-rich recruiting class.

The Recruiting Services Consensus Index, which tallies major recruiting rankings and plugs them into a formula to calculate a consensus ranking, measured this group as the best ever. The highly touted signing class joins returners Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Hamidou Diallo, among others. Diallo was named to the preseason All-Southeastern Conference First Team on Wednesday while freshman forward Kevin Knox was tabbed to the second team.

Five Kentucky opponents enter the 2017-18 season ranked, including two top-10 opponents in No. 3 Kansas (Nov. 14) and No. 7 Florida (Jan. 20, March 3). UK will also face No. 10 West Virginia (Jan. 27), No. 16 Louisville (Dec. 29) and No. 25 Alabama (Feb. 17).

Showcasing the league’s strength, fellow SEC members Texas A&M (Jan. 9, Feb. 10), Missouri (Feb. 3, Feb. 24), Georgia (Dec. 31), Arkansas (Feb. 20) and South Carolina (Jan. 16) received votes in the poll. Virginia Tech, who UK hosts at Rupp Arena on Dec. 16, also received votes.

Kentucky was picked by the media to win its 49th SEC regular-season crown. UK tips off its season with the Blue-White Game on Friday at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network. Kentucky’s regular season opens on Nov. 12 with a 7 p.m. tilt against Vermont in Rupp Arena.

Calipari to give away scholarships at Blue-White scrimmage

There are few things better for Kentucky students than going to a Kentucky basketball game. But for two students attending UK’s Blue-White Game, it will get better. Much better.

For the fifth year in a row, head coach John Calipari will pay the 2018 spring semester in-state tuition for two lucky Kentucky students who attend Friday’s Blue-White Game at Rupp Arena (7 p.m. ET on the SEC Network).

Similar to the past two years, UK students will check into the Blue-White Game via the BBN Rewards app. Students who check in at the Blue-White Game with a fully completed profile, including their student ID number, will be eligible to win. Students are also encouraged to enable notifications on the app to receive news about exclusive experiences, coupons and other important updates.

The app, which is available for download on Apple and Android devices, allows UK students to earn a variety of rewards for attending various UK Athletics events. Students will accumulate points by checking in when they arrive at UK Athletics events using the “Events” button on the app. As students accumulate points, awards will automatically unlock.

The winners will be randomly selected and announced at the completion of the game. They must be present to win. Prior points earned through BBN Rewards will not factor into this drawing.

In the event of an out-of-state or graduate/professional student winner, the spring semester in-state undergraduate tuition amount will be applied.

Calipari started the scholarship tradition at UK during the 2013-14 season, but previously did it during his days at UMass. Over the past four seasons, with two students earning in-state tuition for one semester on the line, an average of 15,052 fans have attended the Blue-White Game. For perspective, that attendance average would have ranked 13th nationally last season. Houston Williams and Whitney Wright were last year’s scholarship recipients.

Tickets are still available in the 200-level for $5 for this year’s Blue-White Game. Tickets may be purchased online at ticketmaster.com, by calling Ticketmaster at (800) 745-3000.

Proceeds from the John Calipari Coaches’ Clinic will be used to fund the scholarships.

Kentucky has been picked by the league’s media to win its fourth consecutive Southeastern Conference regular-season championship. The Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook tabbed UK No. 5 in its preseason top 25.

From UK Athletics

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