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Gonzaga unanimous No. 1 in AP Top 25; Arizona up to 2
Feb 21, 2022, 9:18 AM
Gonzaga is the unanimous No. 1 in the latest Associated Press men’s basketball poll. The Zags aren’t likely to budge the way they’re dominating the West Coast Conference.
Gonzaga remained at No. 1 for the second straight week, receiving all 61 votes from a media panel in the poll released Monday. Arizona moved up a spot to No. 2 for its highest ranking in four years, with Auburn, Purdue and Kansas rounding out the top five.
Gonzaga (23-2, 12-0 WCC) has followed up last year’s run to the national championship game with another dominating regular season. The Zags haven’t lost since Dec. 4 and their lopsided wins over Pepperdine and Santa Clara last week clinched a 10th straight WCC regular-season title.
Gonzaga is winning its WCC games by an average of 27 points, one of the most dominant conference seasons in the past 25 years, according to KenPom.com. The Zags are on pace to match the 2019 team for largest margin of victory in conference games. They have four of the top five spots on that list in the last 25 years, joined by the 1999 Duke team.
“They could win the whole thing,” Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar said after an 86-66 loss to Gonzaga last Wednesday. “They have size, they have scoring ability, they can guard.”
Gonzaga closes out the regular season with road games against San Francisco and Saint Mary’s before getting the top seed in the West Coast Conference tournament in Las Vegas.
Arizona keeps finding ways to win under first-year coach Tommy Lloyd, a longtime Gonzaga assistant.
Picked to finish tied for fourth in the Pac-12 Conference, the Wildcats (24-2, 14-1 Pac-12) have a 2 1/2-game lead over No. 16 Southern California with two weeks left in the regular season.
Arizona shrugged off a shaky start to beat Oregon State 83-69 last Thursday, then outlasted Oregon 84-81 in a high-level game on Saturday.
The wins, combined with Auburn’s loss to Florida, put the Wildcats right behind Gonzaga, where Lloyd coached under Mark Few the previous 22 seasons.
“Weird, cool, awesome — I’m proud of those guys, they’ve got a great team,” Lloyd said. “They’re family and I think they’re happy for us.”
No. 18 Arkansas had the biggest jump of the week, moving up five spots after blowing out Missouri and shutting down No. 17 Tennessee. UConn was next, climbing three spots to No. 21 with wins over Seton Hall and Xavier.
No. 22 Ohio State had the biggest drop of teams still in the poll, falling four spots after losing to Iowa. No. 10 Baylor, No. 11 Providence and No. 15 Illinois all lost three spots.
IN AND OUT
No. 23 Saint Mary’s returned to the poll after a one-week absence following wins over San Francisco and BYU. No. 25 Iowa is ranked for the first time this season following its win over Ohio State.
Michigan State dropped out of the poll from No. 19 with losses to Penn State and Illinois. The Spartans, ranked in the top 10 earlier this season, have lost four of five.
Wyoming’s first stint in the AP Top 25 since 2015 didn’t last long. The Cowboys fell out from No. 22 after splitting against New Mexico and Air Force last week.
The Big 10 and Southeastern conferences had five ranked teams each and the Big 12 four. The Pac-12 and Big East each had three and the West Coast Conference two with the addition of Saint Mary’s.
The Atlantic Coast, American Athletic and Ohio Valley conferences each had one ranked team.
No. 1 Gonzaga clinches WCC title with 81-69 win over Santa Clara