At this point, it doesn’t really make sense to have anyone other than Gonzaga sitting in the top spot in the top 25.
Part of it is because they’ve earned it. We’re sitting here the day after the Super Bowl and Gonzaga has yet to lose a game. Yes, they play in the WCC, but they also played a tough non-conference schedule, one that includes wins over Arizona, the Florida team that just beat Kentucky by 22 points, the Iowa State team that just won at Kansas, the Tennessee team that beat Kentucky and, while I know it doesn’t work this way, they beat Washington who beat the Colorado team that has wins over Xavier and Oregon.
Should I mention that 23-point win over Saint Mary’s or no?
Perhaps the most telling part of Gonzaga’s season is that they’ve yet to throw out an awful performance. Kansas blew a 15-point lead at home on Saturday and lost by 16 at West Virginia. Baylor dug themselves a 19-point hole at home against Kansas State and lost by 21 points at West Virginia. Louisville got smoked by Virginia at home. Wisconsin needed a miracle to avoid losing to Rutgers. Villanova blew a 13-point lead to Marquette.
The list goes on and on and on.
Granted, much of that has to do with the fact that the Zags do play in a weaker league. It’s easier to avoid losing to Pacific and Pepperdine than it is Kansas State and Marquette.
If it was going to happen, Thursday night was the prime candidate, as the Zags faced off with a talented BYU team in a building that holds 19,000 fans. And every time BYU made a run, Nigel Williams-Goss, who finished with 33 points, had an answer. That was the other concern about Gonzaga, by the way. Do they have a go-to guy? Do they have a player that can end a run or take over at the end of a game?
The answer seems to be yes.
So while it’s hardly going to be a consensus that Gonzaga is the best team in the country – hell, I’m not even sure that I can buy that – at this point there really is no reason to have them ranked anywhere other than No. 1.
They have just as much right to that spot as anyone.
Onto the rankings …
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1. Gonzaga (24-0, Last Week: No. 2)
2. Villanova (22-2, 3)
3. Kansas (20-3, 1)
4. Louisville (19-4, 5)
5. Baylor (20-3, 4)
6. Oregon (21-3, 12)
7. North Carolina (21-4, 7)
8. Wisconsin (21-3, 10)
9. Arizona (21-3, 6)
10. UCLA (21-3, 11)
11. West Virginia (18-5, 8)
12. Kentucky (18-5, 9)
13. Virginia (17-5, 13)
14. Florida State (20-4, 14)
15. Cincinnati (21-2, 15)
16. Purdue (19-5, 16)
17. Duke (18-5, 17)
18. Saint Mary’s (21-2, 19)
19. South Carolina (19-4, 20)
20. Florida (18-5, 23)
21. Maryland (20-3, 21)
22. SMU (20-4, 25)
23. Notre Dame (17-7, 18)
24. Iowa State (14-8, NR)
t25. Butler, Creighton and Xavier
DROPPED OUT: No. 24 Northwestern
NEW ADDITIONS: No. 24 Iowa State