The USA Today/ESPN preseason top 25 poll was released today: Kansas is just outside of the top 10 at No. 13 while Missouri snuck in at No. 25. The Big 12 has four teams in the initial poll, with Baylor at No. 12 and Texas A&M at No. 19, tied for second-most behind only the Big East's six.
The Jayhawks finished last year with a 35-3 record, but lost Marcus and Markieff Morris to the NBA Draft. Their ranking is a reflection of Bill Self's ability to reload in his time at Lawrence, as he's won seven-straight Big 12 titles despite losing players to the NBA nearly every year.
This year's team will depend on three highly regarded recruits -- forward Thomas Robinson and guards Tyshawn Taylor and Elijah Johnson -- assuming leadership of the team after being role players as underclassmen.
The Tigers appearance in the poll is more surprising, after head coach Mike Anderson, who recruited most of the returning players to fit his unique system, left for Arkansas and standout forward Laurence Bowers tore his ACL in pre-season workouts.
However, there's still talent in Columbia for first-year coach Frank Haith. Missouri has a loaded back-court of Marcus Denmon, Kim English and the Pressey brothers returning, but Ricardo Ratliffe will have to carry a huge load on the interior.
Kansas State, after losing Jacob Pullen, was one of 23 teams also receiving votes in the preseason poll.