Parity abounds in college basketball

"After years and years of plucking those best players out before they finish their college careers, it gets to a point where the teams who do have four-year guys, or even five-year guys at times, have an advantage even though they were two-star and three-star -- or maybe no-star -- recruits versus the four- and five-star recruits that play one year," Marshall said.

Marshall carried that attitude over to the Shockers, as they bounced No. 1 seed Gonzaga and No. 2 seed Ohio State in last season's NCAA tournament en route to the Final Four. This season, the Shockers are ranked eighth in the USA Today Coaches poll, and No. 12 in the Associated Press poll.

The discrepancy is likely proof that some still hold an inexplicable belief that a Missouri Valley Conference school should not be ranked so high.

"I looked at that coaches' poll and rattle off the seven teams in front of us and a couple of teams right behind us and obviously there's one of them that doesn't really fit all the criteria that other teams have," said Marshall, referring to the Shockers. "It's pretty cool to be that team."

Arizona coach Sean Miller thinks the same about being ranked No. 1. The Wildcats haven't been atop the college basketball landscape since 2003.

During his scheduled news conference Monday he told reporters assembled that his team would embrace their ranking. Miller sounded like being at the top wasn't much different from being near the top.

"Everybody loves to beat the team that is ranked No. 1," Miller said. "I would also tell you that we were ranked No. 2 last week. It isn't as if anyone looks at that ranking and says, 'It's not that big a deal.'"

Actually coach, they all look at rankings that way. And that's part of what makes this season so unpredictable.

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