Gonzaga reclaimed the no. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 on Monday after defeating Saint Mary’s to extend its winning streak to 14 games Saturday night and improve to 21-2 (10-0 WCC). The Zags overtook Auburn for the top spot after the Tigers (23-2, 11-1 SEC) had their 19-game winning streak come to an end in an overtime loss at Arkansas last Tuesday.
Auburn did still receive four first-place votes, but Gonzaga earned 56 as the Bulldogs returned to No. 1 for the third time this season. The Bulldogs began the season at No. 1 and reclaimed the top spot for one week last month before Auburn claimed it on Jan. 24 for the first time in program history following a win over Kentucky on Jan. 22.
The Tigers had a three-week run in the top spot and are still projected to be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. But with Gonzaga plowing through its competition in the West Coast Conference, it appears unlikely the Bulldogs will relinquish the top spot over the final weeks of the regular season.
Gonzaga is outscoring his competition by an average margin of 29.1 points in league play, and his 74-58 win over St. Mary’s on Saturday showed how even his top WCC challenger will need to play a virtually perfect game to have a shot. The Zags play Pepperdine and Santa Clara this week before a final week of the regular season at the end of the month that features rematches with San Francisco and Saint Mary’s, who are the only WCC teams to lose by less than 25 against Gonzaga so far this season.
In addition to the shuffle at the top, rest of the top 5 also received a shakeup. Arizona climbed a spot to No. 3 after winning three road games in Pac-12 play last week. Kentucky also crept up a spot to No. 4 after beating South Carolina and Florida. The one-spot rises from Arizona and Kentucky corresponded with a two-spot drop for Purdue to No. 5 after the boilermakers were blown out by Michigan on Thursday night and then nearly lost at home to Maryland on Sunday.
Wyoming cracked the poll for just the second time since the 1987-88 season at No. 22 after improving to 21-3 (10-1 Mountain West) with wins over Utah State and San Jose State. Alabama and Arkansas both entered this week’s poll at No. 25 and no. 23, respectively. Saint Mary’s, Xavier and Marquette dropped out.
AP Top 25
18. Ohio St
19. Michigan State
21. Murray State
Others receiving votes: Marquette 77, Xavier 51, Colorado State 29, Saint Mary’s 22, LSU 18, Iowa 17, Notre Dame 17, SMU 14, Rutgers 10, Virginia 4, South Dakota State 3, Toledo 3, Miami 3, Boise State 3, San Francisco 2, Belmont 2, Vermont 1, Wake Forest 1