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Razorbacks ranked No. 16 in first AP poll

by Bob Holt | October 19, 2021 at 12:00 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE — The Associated Press preseason college basketball poll was released at 11 a.m. Central time on Monday.

Two hours later, University of Arkansas Coach Eric Musselman posted a video on his Twitter account that the Razorbacks had sold out of season tickets.

The demand for tickets is high for the Razorbacks, who are ranked No. 16 in the AP poll after advancing to the NCAA Tournament Elite Eight last season for the first time since 1995.

“Certainly the momentum from the Elite Eight run, I think we’ve seen some benefits from a fan standpoint,” Musselman said Monday on the “SEC This Morning” show. “The momentum from last year has created a fanbase that’s really, really excited about the upcoming college basketball season.”

Arkansas has sold approximately 14,533 season tickets, UA senior associate athletic director Kevin Trainor said, and doesn’t anticipate any single-game sales or mini-plan sales will be available.

The season-ticket total for Walton Arena — which lists a capacity of 19,200 — doesn’t include seating for UA students and the Hog Wild Band, opponents’ allotment, standing room in suites and media section.

Arkansas has sold out of season tickets before the season opened for the first time since the 2002-03 season.

The Razorbacks, who were ranked No. 10 in the final AP poll last year before the NCAA Tournament, are in the preseason poll for the first time since they opened the 2007-08 season at No. 19.

Four other SEC teams are ranked with No. 10 Kentucky, No. 14 Alabama, No. 18 Tennessee and No. 22 Auburn.

The SEC matched the Big Ten as conferences having the most teams ranked with five. Big Ten teams in the poll are No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Purdue, No. 11 Illinois, No. 17 Ohio State and No. 21 Maryland.

Arkansas could play Illinois in Kansas City, Mo., in the Hall of Fame Classic.

“You look across the SEC, there are so many great coaches, there are so many programs that have NBA level talent,” Musselman said during his “SEC This Morning” appearance. “There are a lot of really, really, really good teams in our league. It’s competitive every single night you go out.

“Everybody thinks about SEC football, but certainly in the basketball world, the respect for the SEC right now is as high as any conference.”

The top five teams in the poll are No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 UCLA, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Villanova and No. 5 Texas.

Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 all of last season, but fell to Baylor in the national championship game after the Bears beat Arkansas in the Elite Eight and Houston in the Final Four.

Baylor is ranked No. 8.

“It is quite an honor to be selected preseason No. 1 for the second consecutive year,” Gonzaga Coach Mark Few said in a statement to the AP. “Our returning players realize the challenge of playing up to that level all year and look forward to it.”

Gonzaga lost AP All-Americans Corey Kispert and Jalen Suggs to the NBA, but second-team selection Drew Timme and starting guard Andrew Nembhard return. The Zags added the nation’s No. 1 recruit in 7-foot Chet Holmgren and a five-star guard in Hunter Sallis.

Going back to the 2019-20 season, Gonzaga has been ranked in the top three for 32 straight polls, with 22 of those at No. 1.

UCLA, which advanced to the Final Four last season before losing to Gonzaga in overtime, has its first preseason top 10 ranking since 2009.

Kansas is ranked in the top 10 of AP’s preseason poll for the 10th consecutive season.

Texas, with Chris Beard as its new coach, has a preseason top 10 ranking for the first time since 2010. Beard, the former University of Arkansas at Little Rock coach, left Texas Tech for Texas.

Baylor has a second consecutive top 10 preseason ranking despite losing four starters from last season, including AP All-Americans Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell.

Florida was the last team to win back-to-back national championships in 2006-07.

St. Bonaventure, at No. 23, is ranked for the first time since January 1971. That season was also the last time the program was ranked in the preseason at No. 20.

The Associated Press contributed information for the article


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