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UNM basketball: Lobo men ranked No. 20 in coaches hoops poll

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Expectations are raised for Lobo basketball, and not just in Albuquerque.

The University of New Mexico men’s basketball team on Thursday was ranked No. 20 in the preseason USA Today coaches Top 25 poll, receiving 153 points among the panel of 32 voters of Division I coaches.

This is the first time since the Dave Bliss era the Lobos received a preseason Top 25 ranking. Prior to the 1998-99 season, UNM also received a preseason No. 20 ranking. A year ago, UNM was unranked in the preseason coaches poll and received 10 points.

“We’ve been ranked periodically over the past six years and ranked high several times,” head coach Craig Neal said. “They’ve kind of been used to that. … I think our guys have dealt with that and hopefully they’ll be able to deal with being a preseason Top 25. I think we’ve got the talent to be ranked, and it’s a credit to our kids and our program.”

The Lobos were the only team from the Mountain West Conference ranked, although Boise State (11 points) and UNLV (one point) did receive votes.

Besides Boise State and UNLV, which the Lobos play twice each during league play, UNM nonconference opponents Kansas (No. 6) and Marquette (No. 17) also were listed. UNM plays Kansas on Dec. 14 in Kansas City, Mo., and Marquette on Dec. 21 in Las Vegas, Nev.

The Associated Press Preseason Top 25 poll, of which Journal staff writer Geoff Grammer is one of 65 national voters, will be released Oct. 31.

Here is a look at Thursday’s preseason coaches poll:

Preseason USA Today Coaches Top 25

(rank, team, first place votes in parenthesis, total points and final 2012-13 coaches poll ranking)
1. Kentucky (16) 767 — NR
2. Michigan State (3) 749 — 13
3. Louisville (10) 741 — 1
4. Duke (3) 710 — 5
5. Arizona 637 — 14
6. Kansas 623 — 8
7. Syracuse 551 — 3
8. Florida 550 — 9
9. Michigan 548 — 2
10. Ohio State 533 — 6
11. North Carolina 494 — NR
12. Oklahoma State 462 — NR
13. Memphis 334 — 18
14. Gonzaga 270 — 12
15. Virginia Commonwealth 258 — 23
16. Wichita State 233 — 4
17. Marquette 230 — 11
18. Oregon 175 — 15
19. Connecticut 167 — NR
20. New Mexico 153 — 19
21. Wisconsin 148 — 22
22. Notre Dame 128 — NR
23. UCLA 121 — NR
24. Indiana 118 — 7
25. Virginia 103 — NR
Others receiving votes:
Baylor 102; Colorado 93; Creighton 87; Iowa 86; Tennessee 73; Georgetown 38; Harvard 28; Pittsburgh 23; California 16; Boise State 11; Saint Louis 8; La Salle 7; Temple 4; Missouri 4; Villanova 4; Kansas State 3; LSU 2; Iowa State 2; Arizona State 2; Illinois 2; Georgia 1; UNLV 1.

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