The preseason Associated Press men's basketball poll Wednesday confirmed what we already knew: Expectations for the Gophers, ranked No. 15, are as high as they've been in years.

The Gophers also were ranked No. 15 in the preseason coaches' poll in October.

Another 15 number to know: It's been that many years since the Gophers were last ranked in both polls — AP and coaches' — before the season; they opened at No. 24 in both polls before the 2002-03 season.

The Gophers were a preseason Top 25 AP team eight years ago, opening at No. 25 for the 2009-10 season.

The last time the Gophers were a top-15 team to open the season? October 1993, when they were coming off an NIT championship victory over Georgetown that March. That 1993-94 season ended up becoming the first of six seasons wiped off the books because of NCAA violations.

The Gophers' team goals this season include a Big Ten title, and to get that trophy they'll have to take down the No. 2 team in the country: the Michigan State Spartans.

The Gophers start on those goals, unofficially, Thursday night in an exhibition game vs. Concordia (St. Paul) at Williams Arena.

Marcus Fuller