Hoops: Horns Just Out Of Top 10 In Final Polls

Texas remained at No. 11 in the final pre-tournament ESPN/USA Today poll but fell a spot to No. 12 in the AP poll behind Atlanta Regional-mate Cincinnati (the Bearcats, who beat DePaul in their conference tourney finals, are a four seed in the Horns' bracket). Big 12 champ Oklahoma State moved up to No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. The only other league team in the rankings is Kansas, which despite falling in the Big 12 semis to Texas, moved up to No. 14 and No. 16, respectively.

Want to know why most consider the Horns' regional the toughest, and perhaps most unpredictable of the bunch? Look no further than the fact that the top five seeds in the Atlanta Regional are all grouped closely together in both polls. One seed Duke checks in at No. 6 in both polls, two seed Mississippi State is No. 9 in the coaches' poll and No. 8 in the writers' poll, three seed Texas is No. 11 and No. 12, four seed Cincinnati is No. 12 and No. 11, and five seed Illinois is No. 13. That means five of the top 13 teams in the country, based on the rankings, are in a single regional, more than the East Rutherford Regional (Saint Joseph's, Oklahoma State, Pittsburgh, Wisconsin), St. Louis (Kentucky, Gonzaga) or Phoenix (Stanford, UConn).

The Atlanta Regional also has six seed North Carolina (No. 20/18), seven seed Xavier (unranked but fresh off a win over then-No. 1 Saint Joseph's and an A-10 Tourney title) and nine seed Arizona (No. 18/22), which beat Texas early this season and is talented enough in its starting five to beat anyone in the field.

Stanford (29-1) moved to No. 1 in both polls with its PAC-10 tourney championship. Gonzaga moved up to No. 2 in the coaches' poll, followed by Oklahoma State, Kentucky and Saint Joe's. In the AP poll, five teams other than the Cardinal received first-place votes: No. 2 Kentucky, No. 3 Gonzaga, No. 4 Okie State, No. 5 Saint Joseph's and No. 7 UConn.

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