PROVO — For the first time in 30 years, the BYU Cougars are ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 preseason men's basketball poll.
It marks only the sixth time in the poll's history that the Cougars have earned a preseason ranking.
In the poll released Thursday morning, the Cougars sit in the 24th spot with 198 points — 54 points behind No. 23 Tennessee and 40 points ahead of No. 25 and Mountain West Conference foe San Diego State. The Cougars, with a 30-6 mark, finished last season ranked No. 17.
"Being ranked is great for the confidence of our players and for our fans," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "It's a sign that our players and staff have earned the respect of the national media. We are not too concerned with the polls right now. What we need to do is focus on getting better as a team and prepare for our season opener against Fresno State."
The UNLV Runnin' Rebels are eight spots outside the rankings with 21 points. Utah State received four points and New Mexico one.
The Top 5, in order, includes Duke, Michigan State, Kansas State (the team that eliminated BYU in the second round of last year's NCAA Tournament), Ohio State and Pittsburgh. Florida, who BYU defeated in last year's NCAA Tournament, came in at No. 9.
In 1980-81, the last time BYU began the year with a preseason ranking (No. 18) the Cougars, led by All-American Danny Ainge, advanced to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament.
In last week's ESPN/USA Today coaches' poll the Cougars were just outside the Top 25 by two spots. The Cougars, led by returning guards Jimmer Fredette and Jackson Emery, open the season Nov. 12 at home against Fresno State.