Villanova ended last season cutting down the nets. The Wildcats head into their title defense as the Associated Press' top team in the land, perhaps on the precipice of a repeat.
Villanova leads the final AP poll heading into the 2017 NCAA tournament and is followed by Gonzaga, Kansas, Arizona and Kentucky.
Here is a look at the full Top 25:
|Associated Press Poll|
|22||Saint Mary's (Cal.)|
The top of the AP looks similar to how the tournament committee seeded teams in the field of 68. Villanova earned the top overall seed, followed by Kansas, North Carolina and Gonzaga as the other three No. 1 seeds.
The Wildcats wrapped up their historic regular season, which featured them recording the most wins for a defending champion, with a 74-60 win over Creighton to take the Big East championship. A veteran group that's laser focused on what lies ahead, Villanova's celebration was noticeably understated.
"We don't want to get too high or too low about anything," guard Jalen Brunson said, per Steven Tydings of CSN Philly. "We're happy with what happened last night. We're happy we won the Big East Tournament. We may not honestly show it with our facial expressions and things like that, but we're definitely excited. We know we've still got a lot of work to do to be the best team we can."
Making a big climb up the rankings this week is Duke, which went from No. 14 to No. 7 after winning the ACC tournament. Ranked No. 1 in the preseason, the Blue Devils are seemingly on the edge of realizing their potential. Freshmen Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles both had big moments in the title game win over Notre Dame, and steady hand Luke Kennard came away with tournament MVP honors.
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"Crazy as it may sound, I think we're still evolving," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said, per SB Nation's Charlotte Wilder. "I don't know who we are completely, but I have good kids. I have really good kids, and they play hard, and they share the ball. Maybe we'll develop a little bit more of an identity."
It's been a wildly inconsistent road all year long for the Blue Devils, who closed their regular season with three losses in four games before catching fire in Brooklyn.
Iowa State also moved up six spots from No. 23 after taking the Big 12 championship. It's the third time in the last four years that the Cyclones have run the table in the postseason tournament.
Michigan, which had been on the outside of the rankings looking in, enters at No. 23 after winning the Big Ten championship. The eighth-seeded Wolverines are the lowest to ever win the tournament, besting the 2001 Iowa team that won as a No. 6. It's Michigan's first official conference title win, after its 1998 triumph was vacated.
Thirteen of the last 15 winners were No. 1 or No. 2 seeds.
“Winning four games in four days is incredible," coach John Beilein told reporters. "Our message was, Somebody’s going to do it, why not us? They really came in, and this team has bonded, not just because of the events last Wednesday, but in the last month. We lost a home game to Ohio State. Our kids really felt bad about that. The coaches felt bad about that. After that, we gained an edge from that loss that has propelled us to this point."
At any rate, the only rankings that matter now are the seedings in the bracket. Villanova may go into the tournament as the nation's top team, but the Wildcats were ranked sixth in the final poll a year ago and wound up cutting down the nets.