Senior Kyle McAlarney and the Fighting Irish will begin the season ranked ninth according to the Associated Press.

Fighting Irish Ranked Ninth In AP Preseason Poll

Oct. 31, 2008

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Notre Dame received a No. 9 ranking in the Associated Press NCAA men’s basketball preseason poll released on Friday. That marked the fifth time in program history that the Irish have debuted in the top 10 of the AP poll.

The Fighting Irish have not begun a season in the top 10 of the AP rankings since 1980-81 when they were 10th. Notre Dame’s highest-ever AP preseason mark was third in 1978-79. The Irish were ranked fourth in 1977-78 and fifth in 1979-80. The last time Notre Dame was ranked in the preseason AP poll was in 2004-05 when the Irish were 20th. The Associated Press poll began in 1948-49.

A total of seven BIG EAST teams appear in the top 25, including four in the top 10. Connecticut (2), Louisville (3) and Pittsburgh (5) join the Irish in the top 10. Fellow league foes Marquette (16), Georgetown (22) and Villanova (23) also appear in the rankings. North Carolina is ranked first.

Notre Dame also debuted at No. 9 in the USA Today/ESPN Preseason Coaches’ Poll released earlier this week. That is the highest preseason ranking ever for the Fighting Irish in the coaches’ poll.

Notre Dame returns four starters from last season’s squad that went 25-8 and fell in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Washington State. Back for Notre Dame is the reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year and the 2008-09 BIG EAST Preseason Player of the Year in Luke Harangody (Schererville, Ind.), a junior forward. Fellow preseason all-conference selection Kyle McAlarney (Staten Island, N.Y.) returns for his senior season in the Irish backcourt.

Head coach Mike Brey and the Fighting Irish open exhibition play tonight against Briar Cliff (Iowa). Tip-off is set for 9:00 p.m. (ET) in the Joyce Center.