Irish begin the year ranked 9th in both polls, the highest preseason ranking in thirty years. If the team makes the Maui finals, this schedule could wind up featuring seven games against the top-5 AP teams (UNC, UCONN 2x, Louisville 2x, UCLA, Pitt). Difficult schedule, indeed.
Carolina is the consensus pick for #1 overall. Seven Big East teams represented in the AP poll, with two others receiving votes. Good to see the league get so much respect, but hopefully those voters will keep the league's difficulty in mind and continue to rank six or seven teams in the conference, even those with several league losses.
Andy Katz ranks the Irish 11th, saying "The Irish won't scare teams on appearance, but they play well together, especially in South Bend."
Duke and UCLA are the only two ranked teams in action before Friday, when we get eleven games. Slowly but surely, the hoops season gets rolling.