Shockers debut at No. 7 in AP Preseason Poll

Wichita State University (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Wichita State took the No. 7 slot in Wednesday’s Associated Press Preseason Poll.

It’s the fourth time in five years that the Shockers have opened in the AP Top-25. Prior to that, WSU teams had appeared just three other times since 1961 when the AP began publishing preseason rankings.

The No. 7 ranking is WSU’s highest starting point in 36 years. The Shockers followed up a 1981 Elite Eight appearance as the AP’s preseason No. 6 in November, 1981.

Likewise, WSU’s No. 8 ranking in last month’s USA Today Coaches Poll was its highest debut on that chart since that 1981-82 group — led by future NBA standouts Antoine Carr and Cliff Levingston — opened at No. 7.

The Shockers collected 1270 poll points, 14 fewer than sixth-ranked Villanova. Duke (33), Michigan State (13), Arizona (18) and Kansas (1) split up the first-place votes and slotted 1-4 respectively.

New conference foe Cincinnati (30-6 last year) checked in at No. 12. No other American Athletic Conference rivals made the top-25, but SMU (3 points) and UCF (1) each received votes.

WSU’s non-conference schedule includes a date at No. 24 Baylor on Dec. 2. Potential final-day foes at the Maui Invitational include No. 14 Notre Dame and a Michigan team which missed the top-25 but tallied six poll points. Oklahoma – which will visit INTRUST Bank Arena on Dec. 16 – earned seven.

A Shocker group that finished 31-5 last year returns almost entirely intact. All five starters are back, led by preseason first team all-conference choice Landry Shamet for the team’s first go-around in the American Athletic Conference.

By contrast, WSU’s post-Final Four team opened at No. 16 in 2013-14. The 2014-15 team – fresh off an undefeated regular season – started at No. 11. With senior leaders Ron Baker and Fred VanVleet headlining, AP voters slotted the 2015-16 Shockers at No. 10.