Gonzaga is the new No. 1 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 college basketball rankings, moving from No. 3 last week to the top spot this week for only the second time in program history. The Zags, the lone undefeated Division I team in the country, made the jump when both former No. 1 Villanova and No. 2 Kansas were beaten in a week in which seven in the top 10 lost.
The Zags, the fifth team ranked No. 1 this year, joining Duke, Kentucky, Villanova and Baylor, received 46 first-place votes and 1,594 points from the 65-member national media panel Monday. The Zags, who collected 1,471 points last week, were No. 1 for the final three weeks of the 2012-13 season.
Baylor (20-1) jumped from fifth to second. Kansas, No. 2 last week, fell one spot to No. 3 while Villanova dropped from first to fourth.
Among Pac-12 schools, Arizona (20-2) moved from seventh to fifth after defeating Washington State and Washington. UCLA (19-3) is 11th, three spots lower than last week.
Gonzaga (West Coast Conference) pushed its record to 22-0 Saturday with a dominant 96-49 whipping of Pepperdine in Malibu, CA. The Zags, who trampled Washington 98-71 Dec. 7, play at BYU Thursday and host Santa Clara next weekend.
“It’s nice to be recognized for the school, for the program, even for Spokane,” said coach Mark Few. “But you have to understand the only poll we want to be No. 1 at is the one at the end of the year. These things just kind of track who’s winning and who’s losing. I will say as we get deeper into the season, the polls get more accurate because everybody begins to get a feel for everyone’s schedule.”
The Zags have, as usual, played a poor conference schedule. Only two teams Gonzaga defeated during non-conference play, Florida and Arizona, are likely to make the NCAA Tournament.
In West Coast Conference play, former Husky Nigel Williams-Goss, who transferred to Few’s program two years ago, leads Gonzaga in scoring at 15.8 points per game. He also leads in assists (4.9).