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AP College Basketball Poll 2021: Final Rankings Released Before March Madness

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistMarch 15, 2021

Illinois players Ayo Dosunmu (11), Andre Curbelo (5), Trent Frazier (1), and Kofi Cockburn (21) wave to fans in the closing minute of overtime in an NCAA college basketball championship game at the Big Ten Conference tournament, Sunday, March 14, 2021, in Indianapolis. Illinois defeated Ohio State  in overtime(AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Michael Conroy/Associated Press

Gonzaga went wire-to-wire as the No. 1 team in the Associated Press poll after finishing on top of the final rankings entering the NCAA tournament.

The preseason No. 1 went 26-0 through the regular season and WCC tournament and is the top overall seed in March Madness. The Bulldogs are the first team to enter the NCAA tournament undefeated since Kentucky in 2015.

Illinois and Alabama are also among the teams entering the Big Dance on a hot streak, although other top squads suffered setbacks during conference tournaments that featured surprising winners like Georgetown, Oregon State and Georgia Tech.

While most of the attention is now on the bracket, here is how voters saw the latest Top 25.

    

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AP Poll 

1. Gonzaga

2. Illinois

3. Baylor

4. Michigan

5. Alabama

6. Houston

7. Ohio State

8. Iowa

9. Texas

10. Arkansas

11. Oklahoma State

12. Kansas

13. West Virginia

14. Florida State

15. Virginia

16. San Diego State

17. Loyola Chicago

18. Villanova

19. Creighton

20. Purdue

21. Texas Tech

22. Colorado

23. BYU

24. USC

25. Virginia Tech

     

Illinois sits at No. 2 in the poll after an impressive run in the Big Ten tournament with wins over Iowa and Ohio State. The Illini also beat Ohio State earlier this month after blowing out Michigan and now has 14 wins in its last 15 games.

All-American Ayo Dosunmu appears ready to be the next guard who can carry his team deep into the NCAA tournament.

"We're not done. Ayo Dosunmu leads that charge," head coach Brad Underwood said after Sunday's game. "... We'll ride his coattails."

Alabama moved up to No. 5 in the poll after a thrilling victory over LSU in the SEC Championship Game:

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The ending of the Bama and LSU SEC title game was WILD 🍿 https://t.co/ZT6WEor76j

The Crimson Tide are not a traditional basketball power, but the squad won the conference regular-season and tournament titles and will be tough to beat as a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tournament.

In the Big 12, Texas climbed to No. 9 in the poll after beating Oklahoma State, which moved up to 11th thanks to earlier wins over Baylor and West Virginia.

Matt Coleman III outdueled Cade Cunningham in the conference tournament final, but both teams are peaking at the right time.

The same cannot be said for Michigan, which stayed at No. 4 despite a third loss in the last five games after starting the season 18-1. The Wolverines still got a No. 1 seed based on their resume heading into March.

Villanova is a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament but dropped to No. 18 in the latest poll after losing its first Big East tournament game to Georgetown. The Wildcats have lost both games without point guard Collin Gillespie.

While there could be plenty of debate over the poll, all teams now have a chance to prove it on the court with March Madness beginning Thursday.

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