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Vanderbilt Opens the 2015-16 Season Ranked #20 By NCAA Coaches

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Vanderbilt's hot finish to the 2015 season did not go unnoticed across the NCAA. Damian Jones and company were ranked 20th in the first official preseason poll for 2015-16 on Thursday.

Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports

A roster led by one of the nation's best centers and a supporting cast of lights-out shooters has made Vanderbilt a popular pick when it comes to dark-horse Final Four candidates for 2016. On Thursday, the NCAA's coaches lent their support behind the Commodore movement as well; they made Vandy their #20 team in the nation.

Vanderbilt received 153 points in the first poll of the year, good enough for a top 20 ranking as the hardwood season approaches. The 'Dores will return nearly every major player from a 21-14 team that won seven of their final nine games en route to the NIT quarterfinals. Only two of the team's top nine players (by minutes per game) won't be back this winter; James Siakam (graduated) and Shelton Mitchell (transferred). They'll be replaced by a top 25 recruiting class that features budding blockmonster D'Jery Baptiste, sweet-shooting big man Samic Sehic, cut-and-dunk machine Joseph Toye, and sharpshooter Camron Justice.

The Coaches' vote puts Vanderbilt third in the Southeastern Conference, only 10 points behind LSU. Kentucky, who is the nation's co-#1 with North Carolina, looks like the runaway popular choice to win the league again in 2016. Two non-conference opponents - Baylor and Purdue - are also ranked. Two of the teams that the Commodores could face in the Maui Invitational - Indiana and Kansas - were ranked as well.

Here's the full top 25.

USA Today Coaches Poll

RANK TEAM RECORD POINTS 1ST PREV CHANGE HI/LOW
1 Kentucky Wildcats 38-1 749 11 NR 0 -
1 North Carolina Tar Heels 26-12 749 12 NR 0 -
3 Maryland Terrapins 28-7 723 5 NR 0 -
4 Duke Blue Devils 35-4 686 3 NR 0 -
5 Kansas Jayhawks 27-9 675 1 NR 0 -
6 Virginia Cavaliers 30-4 667 0 NR 0 -
7 Iowa State Cyclones 25-9 541 0 NR 0 -
8 Oklahoma Sooners 24-11 520 0 NR 0 -
9 Villanova Wildcats 33-3 498 0 NR 0 -
10 Arizona Wildcats 34-4 477 0 NR 0 -
11 Gonzaga Bulldogs 35-3 468 0 NR 0 -
12 Wichita State Shockers 30-5 461 0 NR 0 -
13 Michigan State Spartans 27-12 386 0 NR 0 -
14 California Golden Bears 18-15 350 0 NR 0 -
15 Indiana Hoosiers 20-14 312 0 NR 0 -
16 Utah Utes 26-9 250 0 NR 0 -
17 Wisconsin Badgers 36-4 181 0 NR 0 -
18 Notre Dame Fighting Irish 32-6 172 0 NR 0 -
19 LSU Tigers 22-11 163 0 NR 0 -
20 Vanderbilt Commodores 21-14 153 0 NR 0 -
21 Baylor Bears 24-10 145 0 NR 0 -
22 Butler Bulldogs 23-11 132 0 NR 0 -
23 West Virginia Mountaineers 25-10 125 0 NR 0 -
24 Purdue Boilermakers 21-13 110 0 NR 0 -
24 Connecticut Huskies 20-15 110 0 NR 0 -
Others Receiving Votes

Michigan 108; Louisville 93; Texas A&M 58; UCLA 48; Georgetown 45; Cincinnati 43; North Carolina State 36; Oregon 33; Texas 29; Xavier 25; Florida State 25; Miami (Fla.) 11; San Diego State 10; Iowa 8; Davidson 5; Boise State 5; Providence 5; Stephen F. Austin 2; Belmont 2; Ohio State 2; Tulsa 1; Dayton 1; Old Dominion 1; Marquette 1.