Tigers finish ranked No. 3 in coaches' poll

The LSU Tigers, off their first outright SEC championship in 21 years and their first NCAA Final Four appearance in 20 years, was voted the No. 3 team in the nation in the final post-tournament ESPN/USA Today coaches poll announced on Tuesday.

While the Associated Press media poll normally concludes with the end of the regular season (LSU was 19th), the coaches' poll has traditionally posted a final poll after the end of the regular season since the USA Today/CNN poll began in 1994. Later the National Association of Basketball Coaches co-sponsored the poll with the daily paper until ESPN came aboard prior to the 2002 season.

The Tigers, 27-9 overall this season, was last ranked in the post-season USA Today poll in the NCAA Sweet 16 year of 200 when the Tigers tied for 12th in the final rankings.

The No. 3 ranking matches the highest since 1980 when LSU was ranked No. 3 in the final Associated Press poll and No. 2 in the 1980 UPI poll. Both of those polls concluded after the end of regular season play. LSU advanced to the Elite 8 in the NCAA Tournament that year.

The Tigers to advance to the 2006 NCAA Final Four had to defeat both the tournament's No. 1 overall seed and the nation's No. 1 team in the AP poll, Duke, and the No. 2 seed in the Atlanta region, Texas.

Florida is the top-ranked team in the poll, receiving all 31 first-place votes of the panel of coaches. Championship game runnerup UCLA is second in front of LSU. Connecticut is fourth with Villanova fifth, Memphis sixth and Duke, LSU's opponent in the Sweet 16, seventh. The other Final Four participant, George Mason, was eighth, followed by Texas and Gonzaga to round out the top 10.

The only other SEC in the final Top 25 of the coaches was Tennessee, which came in at No. 20.

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