Pitt 6th In Coaches' Poll

The Pitt men's basketball team would rather be rated highly at the end of the season, but have started receiving high preseason rankings and are No. 6 in the initial USA Today-ESPN Coaches' Poll announced today.

With its No. 6 ranking and 576 points, Pittsburgh is among seven Big East programs rated in the nation's top-25 including No. 2 Connecticut, No. 3 Louisville, No. 9 Notre Dame, No. 17 Marquette, No. 18 Georgetown and No. 25 Villanova. North Carolina earned the No. 1 ranking, while UCLA is fourth and Duke fifth. The poll is voted on by 31 NCAA Division I head coaches.

For the fourth consecutive season and 10th time in school history, Pitt will enter a season ranked among the nation's Top 25. The preseason Associated Press poll will be released early next week, and the Panthers are expected to be ranked in the top 10 by the NCAA basketball writers' as well.

Pitt was picked by Big East coaches to finish third in the Conference's annual preseason voting announced October 22 at media day. Senior forward Sam Young was selected to the preseason All-Big East First Team.

Here is how the Panthers have fared in preseason rankings the past 20 years:

1986-87: 16-AP, 9-UPI, 7-USA Today/CNN

1987-88: 4-AP, 5-UPI, 3-USA Today/CNN

1989-90: 18-AP

1990-91: 12-AP, 15-UPI

2002-03: 5-AP, 4-USA Today

2003-04: 22-AP, 22-USA Today

2004-05: 17-AP, 17-USA Today

2006-07: 4-AP, 5-USA Today

2007-08: 20-USA Today, 22-AP

2008-09: 6-USA Today, TBA-AP

Pitt returns three starters, each of its top three scorers and seven of its top 10 players from a squad that captured the Big East Tournament title, finished 27-10 overall and advanced to NCAA Tourney play for a seventh consecutive season. Seniors Young, Levance Fields and Tyrell Biggs all return to the squad along with sophomores DeJuan Blair, Gilbert Brown (redshirt), Bradley Wanamaker and Gary McGhee.

Pitt opens its season with exhibition games at the Petersen Events Center against Seton Hill Sunday at 4 p.m. and LaRoche Sunday, Nov. 9 at 1 p.m.

Here is the entire USA Today-ESPN Preseason Top-25 Poll:

1. North Carolina (31), 36-3, 775

2. Connecticut, 24-9, 707

3. Louisville, 27-9, 694

4. UCLA, 35-4, 650

5. Duke, 28-6, 578

6. PITT, 27-10, 576

7. Michigan State, 27-0, 572

8. Texas, 31-7, 538

9. Notre Dame, 25-8, 525

10. Purdue, 25-9, 465

11. Gonzaga, 25-8, 437

12. Memphis, 38-2, 425

13. Tennessee, 31-5, 408

14. Oklahoma, 23-12, 387

15. Arizona State, 21-13, 304

16. Miami, Fla., 23-11, 233

17. Marquette, 25-10, 219

18. Georgetown, 28-6, 175

19. Florida, 24-12, 161

20. Davidson, 29-7, 158

21. Southern California, 21-12, 153

Wisconsin, 31-5, 153

23. Kansas, 37-3, 130

24. Wake Forest, 17-13, 129

25. Villanova, 22-13, 122

Others Receiving Votes:

UNLV 60, Saint Mary's 59, Ohio State 54, Baylor 47, Xavier 27, Syracuse 23, Texas A&M 19, LSU 19, Arizona 18, Virginia Tech 15, BYU 13, West Virginia 10, Washington 8, Siena 8, Kentucky 7, Vanderbilt 7, Oklahoma State 4, Clemson 2, Washington State 1.

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