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Florida Atlantic Owls crack USA Today, Associated Press preseason basketball polls for first time

The year of firsts just keeps rolling for the Florida Atlantic men's basketball program.

Six months after advancing to their first Final Four, the Owls are now ranked in the preseason Top 25 basketball polls for the first time in school history. They are ranked ninth by USA Today and 10th by the Associated Press in their respective preseason polls.

The Miami Hurricanes, who also advanced to the Final Four in Houston, were ranked 13th by both USA Today and AP.

Apr 1, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls huddles during the first half against the San Diego State Aztecs in the semifinals of the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 1, 2023; Houston, TX, USA; Florida Atlantic Owls huddles during the first half against the San Diego State Aztecs in the semifinals of the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

FAU returns all its starters - and nine of its top 10 players - from a team that finished 35-4 and recently was picked to win the American Athletic Conference in its first year in the league. The Owls were 18-2 during their final season in Conference USA.

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“We have some guys that are ready to play, have been ready to play but under circumstances have had to take a back seat,” Owls coach Dusty May said. “We’ll be a little different, but we’ll still be versatile and we’ll play a lot of guys.”

Kansas sits atop both polls. The Jayhawks earned 23 of 32 first-place votes from USA Today's panelists with Purdue, Duke, Michigan State and defending champion Connecticut rounding out the top five. They picked up 46 of 63 first-place votes in the AP poll to easily outdistance Duke, Purdue, Michigan State and Marquette.

FAU will meet multiple fellow members of the Top 25 during its non-conference portion of the schedule. The Owls will play No. 25 Illinois in the Jimmy V. Classic at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 5 and then play No. 12 Arizona in Las Vegas' T-Mobile Arena on Dec. 23.

Needless to say, the Owls will not sneak up on anyone this season. They were ranked in the AP basketball poll for the first time last season, only getting as high as 19th before the NCAA Tournament started. May addressed the attention and honors his team has received since April during AAC Basketball Media Day.

"Our guys are elite competitors and workers. Once they get between the lines, they are as consistent and hungrier than ever," he said. "Now it's outside the lines where we can't let all of the attention and accolades breed complacency and that is something that we have to be on guard for all year. But once are guys get inside the lines, nothing has changed."

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This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: FAU Owls crack USA Today, AP preseason Top 25 basketball polls