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When Hubert Davis returned nearly his entire North Carolina national runner-up basketball team from last season, that helped to end a drought that was nearly 30 years old.

Davis, who took over for Hall of Famer Roy Williams at his alma mater last year, is the first Black men's college basketball coach to lead an Associated Press preseason No. 1 team since Arkansas' Nolan Richardson in 1995.

Yes, you read that correctly. No Black coach had entered the men's college hoops season with a team favored to win the NCAA title in almost three decades. Davis joins South Carolina's Dawn Staley on the women's side as Black coaches for the top teams in their game to open the season.

Davis, who fell to Kansas last season in New Orleans, came so close to being the first Black coach to be crowned NCAA men's hoops champion since Kevin Ollie at Connecticut in 2014.

"We were one rebound away from winning the national championship," Davis said at ACC media day. "The hard work and the preparation, the practice that had to be put into place to put ourselves in position to do that. It's the same approach this year."

Davis isn't alone. Ranked No. 3 in both preseason polls is Houston, coached by Kelvin Sampson. Indiana's Mike Woodson and Michigan's Juwan Howard also enter the season with two of the Big Ten's top contenders. The odds haven't been this good in years to have a men's coach of color win it all.

Early hype doesn't matter to Sampson, who opened Monday night with his 700th career win.

"November basketball is nothing like January basketball or February basketball," Sampson told reporters after beating Northern Colorado. "We have got a lot of work to do, and we are a long way away from being as good as we can be."

Houston senior guard Marcus Sasser was joined on the Associated Press preseason All-America first team by North Carolina big man Armando Bacot, who led the Tar Heels to a 29-10 record last season.

Bacot passed on the NBA draft to stay in college after a breakout postseason where he averaged a double-double in the NCAA tournament, including two 20-rebound performances. Bacot and standout guards Caleb Love and R.J. Davis have some unfinished business to prove the championship game run wasn't a fluke.

Last season the Tar Heels won 11 of their last 13 games after losing six games by late January, including back-to-back ACC losses by 20-plus points.

"I would say just coming off how we played in the last [half] of the season, I think the main thing we can take away from last season is kind of what our identity is and what we need to do to win," Bacot said at ACC media day.

The Tar Heels last won the NCAA title in 2017, coming off a national runner-up finish the year before with several pieces back. Sound familiar? That was the talk among UNC players this offseason.

"We know we have a target on our backs," R.J. Davis said. "We know what's at risk. It's kind of like a championship or bust mindset."

The last time a Black coach won the Big Ten regular-season championship was Howard in his second season with the Wolverines in 2021, when they also reached the Elite Eight.

Howard, who coaches the No. 22 team in the country, sees a lot of similarities between his Michigan program and Woodson's at Indiana.

"You can see how his team has grown so much, and they're one of the best teams in the Big Ten because they've taken on the identity of the coach," Howard said at Big Ten media day.

Expectations for Indiana have always been for Big Ten titles, but the program hasn't won the conference since 2016. The Hoosiers, the highest ranked Big Ten team at 13th in the AP poll, could have a legit chance this year led by Minnesotan Race Thompson and Big Ten preseason player of the year Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Woodson will find out how Indiana stacks up with some heavyweights early with marquee nonconference matchups against No. 1 North Carolina, No. 5 Kansas and Arizona.

"At the end of the day we've got to get 17 players playing at a high level in order to win the Big Ten or a national title," Woodson said at Big Ten media day. "Our schedule early is very competitive. We got a lot of work to do this season. But you can't run from it or be scared of competition. This is what college basketball is about."