Gators ranked No. 6 in preseason top 25 poll

Florida picks up highest preseason ranking in Mike White era

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The Gators are a top-10 program again.

Florida is ranked No. 6 in The Associated Press top 25 preseason poll released Monday.

It is the highest preseason ranking for Florida in the Mike White era and matches the second-highest preseason ranking in program history.

The Gators are the second-highest ranked team in the Southeastern Conference behind No. 2 Kentucky.

Michigan State, which beat Florida to win the national championship in 2000, is the No. 1 team, followed by Kentucky, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Duke and No. 5 Louisville.

No. 7 Maryland, No. 8 Gonzaga, No. 9 North Carolina and No. 10 Villanova round out the top 10.

Virginia, which won its first national title in program history last season, is ranked No. 11.

Florida will face at least five teams ranked in the preseason poll. In addition to Kentucky, the Gators will play No. 16 Baylor in the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, No. 17 Utah State in the Orange Bowl Basketball Classic, No. 22 LSU and No. 24 Auburn.

The Gators boast a young roster -- all three returning starters are sophomores -- and get a boost with the addition of graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear. The Orlando native started 72 games for Virginia Tech over the last three seasons, leading the Hokies in rebounds and blocks a season ago.