Gonzaga keeps finding its way back to the top of the Associated Press men’s college basketball poll.
The Zags reclaimed the No. 1 ranking Monday for a third stint this season atop the AP Top 25, moving up one spot to swap places with Auburn after the Tigers fell to No. 2 following their first loss since November.
Mark Few’s Bulldogs earned 56 of 60 first-place votes to reach No. 1 for a fifth week this season. Gonzaga (21-2) was the preseason No. 1 after last year’s run to the NCAA championship game for what became its only loss. The Zags spent three weeks at the top before falling out after a loss to Duke, and also spent a week at No. 1 in mid-January before being supplanted by Auburn.
It’s become a regular position for Gonzaga over the past four seasons, one no other team in the country can match.
Going back to 2018-19, Gonzaga has spent at least four weeks at No. 1 each season, including last year’s wire-to-wire hold on the top spot. The Zags have now spent 31 of 72 weeks at No. 1 in the poll over the past four seasons, with Duke (11) and Baylor (10) the closest competitors.
This year’s Zags are doing it again with a high-powered offense that leads the country in scoring (90.0 points per game) for the fourth straight season. Gonzaga has also led KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency metrics for the past three seasons and entered the week ranked second to Purdue (122.6 points per 100 possessions).
Gonzaga has four players averaging in double figures and three others averaging at least 7.4 points.
“That’s kind of how we play,” leading scorer Drew Timme said after Saturday’s win against Saint Mary’s. “You look at the scoreboard and it’s, `Oh, he had 20, he had 20.’ It’s just how we play the game. I think that’s the beauty of this program and what (Few) has built here.”
THE TOP TIER
Bruce Pearl’s Tigers earned the other four first-place votes despite losing in overtime at Arkansas last week to snap a 19-game winning streak, which saw them spend three weeks at No. 1 in the program’s first stint at the top.
Arizona climbed one spot to No. 3 followed by Kentucky — which has its highest ranking since spending a week at No. 1 in November 2019 – and Purdue.
Kansas was next at No. 6, followed by reigning national champion Baylor and Providence, which climbed three spots to No. 8 for its highest ranking since spending a week in that same position in January 2016.
Duke and Villanova rounded out the top 10, with the Wildcats making the week’s biggest jump by climbing five spots.
Villanova’s climb came after wins against St. John’s and Seton Hall in the Big East, while No. 17 Southern California rose four spots after wins against Pacific and No. 13 UCLA.
In all, 11 teams moved up from last week’s poll.
Houston had the week’s biggest slide, falling eight spots to No. 14 after losses to SMU and Memphis last week.
No one else took a significant tumble, with Purdue, Duke, No. 11 Texas Tech, No. 18 Ohio State and No. 19 Michigan State all falling two spots.
Nine teams fell from last week’s rankings.
No. 20 Texas and No. 24 Connecticut were the only two teams to hold their positions from last week.
No. 22 Wyoming, No. 23 Arkansas and No. 25 Alabama were the week’s new additions, with the Cowboys from the Mountain West Conference earning their first ranking since spending a week in the 2015 poll and only the program’s second appearance since the 1987-88 season.
The Razorbacks and Crimson Tide have both spent multiple weeks in the poll this season.
FAREWELL (FOR NOW)
Marquette, Saint Mary’s and Xavier fell out from last week’s rankings.
With Arkansas and Alabama returning to the poll, the Southeastern Conference tied the Big Ten for the national lead with five AP Top 25 teams.
The Big 12 had four, followed by the Pac-12 and Big East each having three. The Atlantic Coast, West Coast, American Athletic, Ohio Valley and Mountain West conferences each had one ranked team.