Kentucky Wildcats No. 1 in preseason coaches poll for third straight year

For the third consecutive year, Kentucky will begin the college basketball season as the No. 1 team in the USA Today Coaches Poll.

The Wildcats share the top spot with North Carolina entering the 2015-16 campaign. Both teams received 749 points in the ballots of 32 Division I coaches. The Tar Heels had 12 first-place votes, compared to 11 for UK.

Kentucky reached the Final Four in each of the last two seasons when entering No. 1. The Cats return a handful of key players from last year's 38-1 squad, including sophomore point guard Tyler Ulis (pictured above) and junior forwards Alex Poythress and Marcus Lee. They'll be joined by the program's latest top-ranked recruiting class, led by Scout's No. 1 prospect, 6-foot-11 center Skal Labissiere.

John Calipari's team will face four opponents this season who received votes in the preseason poll: No. 4 Duke, No. 5 Kansas, No. 19 LSU and No. 20 Vanderbilt.

The Cats welcome a new season on Friday with "Big Blue Madness" at Rupp Arena. More than 23,000 are expected for the annual event, which begins at 7 p.m. ET.

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