Seven programs have advanced to the Final Four on double-digit occasions in the history of the tournament.
They are: Duke (16 times), Kansas (14), Kentucky (17), Louisville (10), North Carolina (19), Ohio State (11) and UCLA (18).
Five of those teams are in our Top 10 this preseason.
Another, Louisville, is No.11.
Of the seven, only Ohio State is excluded from our poll vote.
That may not sound like very courageous picking, and it's not.
But it is usually correct, and odds are it will be again this time around.
And isn't getting it right the idea, after all?
Here is our Associated Press preseason Top 25.
Enjoy the next six months.
- Duke (25-11, 11-7) – It might take a while for this current boatload of young talent - like all-everything forward Harry Giles and guard Frank Jackson - to adjust to the ACC. But Coach K is clearly amped about the season possibilities - and the youngins will have plenty of role models to follow, beginning with Grayson Allen.
- Kansas (33-5, 15-3) – You can pencil Bill Self's crew in for yet another Big 12 title despite the exodus of talent (Ellis, Selden, Diallo). And when it's over you can thank guard Frank Mason III for his years of service.
- Oregon (31-7, 14-4) – Much Pac-12 chatter this preseason, and with good reason. The extraordinarily deep Ducks are first of three league members in our Top 10. That's a first in decades for us. We'll see how our unusual level of enthusiasm for the West Coast game works out.
- Xavier (28-6, 14-4) – Chris Mack gets it done, and the Myles Davis/Edmond Sumner backcourt is sterling.
- Kentucky (27-9, 13-5) – This is no knock, only an observation: If anything has been learned over the past few seasons it is that, at season's end, chemistry and a sense of urgency are the magic ingredients in trumping inexperienced super talent. Still UK surprises no one of they are the last group standing.
- UNC (33-7, 14-4) – The Heels are loaded. Is talented guard Joel Berry II a good enough leader to guide the journey, is one question.
- Wisconsin (22-13, 12-6) – Nigel Hayes and a solid, savvy supporting cast could make the Badgers a very difficult out.
- UCLA (15-7, 6-12) – One of only two teams in my Top 25 that did not reach 20 victories last season (also URI), but the Bruins were close to being very good despite the record. Now they add big-time freshman get Lonzo Ball to run the team. I'm thinking major turnaround.
- Villanova (35-5, 16-2) – Jay Wright punched his ticket to the elite section of the coaching hierarchy last year with a masterful job in winning it all. But that sense of urgency thing we were talking about was point man Ryan Arcidiacono's middle name. Now he's gone from the Main Line. Cats will be good. We'll have to wait until March to find out how good.
- Arizona (25-9, 12-6) – Sean Miller sees to it that there's always plenty in the cupboard in Tucson, but the fans want Final Fours. Watch the post, where 7-foot Dusan Ristic and 6-11 frosh Lauri Markkanen will reside.
- Louisville (23-8, 12-6) – Yes, the program is in seriously hot water with the NCAA. And, yes, the Cardinals lost much to graduation. But this is still Pitino, and there are experienced guys like senior Mangok Mathlang around.
- Virginia (29-8, 13-5) – Malcolm Brogdon (18.2 ppg) and Anthony Gill (14/6) are gone. We're putting the Cavs this high on Tony Bennett's past history alone. But he'll have his work cut out for him this time around.
- Indiana (27-8, 15-3) – No program just picks up and moves on after losing a Yogi Ferrell. But there are three starters returning and one is guard James Blackmon Jr., who missed most of last year with ACL injury. It's up to converting the long ball and that famous sixth man, chemistry.
- Rhode Island (17-15, 9-9) – A little high for the Rams, you say? A little home cooking in favor of explosive Island paint presence Hassan Martin (12 ppg, 5.6 rpg), you think? Here's the deal: Dan Hurley gets back NBA-bound guard E.C. Matthews, has a roster stacked with experienced players who believe their time is now, and Rhody plays "D" like it's a street brawl.
- Cincinnati (22-11, 12-6) – With Mick Cronin teams you never have to worry about the defensive end ... if Troy Caupain & Co. can add a little more scoring there's just no telling.
- Michigan St. (29-6, 13-5) – With a Tom Izzo rebuild in the works, this is more a March than December team. Look for Eron Harris and Matt McQuaid to bring offensive punch to the mix.
- Syracuse (23-14, 9-9) – I don't know if Jim Boeheim has a Final Four group in this band. But sophs Tyler Lydon and 7-2 Paschal Chukwu are NBAers in the making, which is a pretty good place to start.
- Iowa St. (23-12, 10-8) – Some serious muscle departed Ames in Georges Niang (20.5, 6.2) and Jameel McKay (11.1, 8.8). But best-of-best point man Monte Morris is back, and that's enough to take Cyclones seriously.
- Creighton (20-15, 9-9) – The Blue Jays have offense everywhere, a dangerously versatile lead guard in Maurice Watson Jr., and enough inside beef to make this one of the better under-the-radar groups.
- Dayton (25-8, 14-4) – Scoochie Smith an established floor leader, Kendall Pollard a horse on the block, and Archie Miller a young coach on the rise. They are the obstacle standing between Rhode Island and an undisputed A-10 championship.
- Purdue (26-9, 12-6) – With some good fortune, you could be talking Top 10 and more in West Lafayette. Forwards Vince Edwards and Caleb Swanigan are the keys, and deep-shooting frosh guard Carsen Edwards might just loosen things up on the perimeter.
- St. Mary's (29-6, 15-3) – Gaels have all starters back from last season's WCC title-tying group (with Zags). That means the pressure is on for a program which hasn't been to the Big Dance since 2013. We have them here. But a hiccup or two early and they're gone.
- West Virginia (26-9, 13-5) - Things were going along swimmingly for the Mountaineers until they imploded in a No.14 vs. No.3 upset smackdown to Stephen F. Austin in the opening round of the Final 64. Bob Huggins has lost some pieces from that Top 10 group, but he has young size, experience on the perimeter, and even more attitude than usual following last March.
- Gonzaga (28-8, 15-3) – Zags lost a ton, but somehow Spokane seems to be the landing place for performers who play above the town's weight class. Cal grad transfer Jordan Mathews will help soften the loss of 55 points from last year's group.
- San Diego State (28-10, 16-2) – Steve Fisher is working his way to six hundred career wins (552-276), and he'll be looking to fix last year's NCAA Tournament snub with a group built around talented guard Trey Kell.