MCLEAN, Va. - As expected, the return of Tyler Hansbrough has set some lofty aspirations for North Carolina.
The Tar Heels were selected as the unanimous No. 1 for the preseason USA Today/ESPN coaches' poll released Thursday.
Armed with the return of the reigning national player of the year, North Carolina captured all 31 of the first-place votes and 775 points.
Choosing to spur the popular route of most top players of leaving school early, Hansbrough is back for a Tar Heels' squad that set a school record for wins during a 36-3 campaign but was left wanting more after a disappointing effort against Kansas in the national semifinals.
Along with the return of Hansbrough, North Carolina welcomes back quicksilver point guard Ty Lawson, sharpshooter Wayne Ellington and the energetic Danny Green to make it one of the
top offensive teams heading into the season. The Tar Heels will open against Pennsylvania on November 15.
Leading a group of four Big East Conference teams in the top 10 is Connecticut, which is second with 707 points.
The Huskies are aiming for an improved season after finishing last year's 24-9 campaign out of the poll following a surprising loss to San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Louisville (27-9) is third, while Pittsburgh (27-10) is sixth and Notre Dame (25-8) ninth.
A Final Four team each of the previous three seasons, UCLA (35-4) is fourth despite a major exodus that included star freshman Kevin Love, athletic guard Russell Westbrook and defensive stalwart Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Duke (28-6) is fifth, ahead of Pittsburgh, Michigan State (27-9) and Texas (31-7).
Purdue (25-9) rounds out the top 10, just in front of mid-major darling Gonzaga (25-8), which will be aiming to reach the NCAA Tournament for an 11th straight year.
Another of the seven Big East squads in the poll, Marquette (25-10) is 17th, while Georgetown (28-6) is one spot behind.
Florida (24-12) is 19th and Davidson (29-7), which is led by budding national player candidate Stephen Curry, is 20th. Southern California (21-12) and Wisconsin (31-5) are tied for 21st.
Defending national champion Kansas (37-3), Wake Forest (17-13) and Villanova (22-13) round out the poll.
Duke coach said that after winning his second gold medal in men's basketball would be his Team USA finale. That may not be the case anymore.
CBT: Turning the page on the Mike Rice scandal, Rutgers hired Louisville's Julie Hermann as athletic director on Wednesday. But, Hermann has a prior scandal of her own.
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