Gonzaga unanimous No. 1, Auburn drops to No. 3 in AP Top 25 poll

Gonzaga is the unanimous No. 1 in the latest Associated Press men’s basketball poll. The Zags likely won’t budge from the way they dominate the West Coast Conference.

Gonzaga remained No. 1 for the second week in a row, receiving all 61 votes from a media panel in the poll released Monday. Arizona moved up one spot to No. 2 for its best ranking in four years, with Auburn, Purdue and Kansas rounding out the top five.

Gonzaga (23-2, 12-0 WCC) followed 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 his WCC games by an average of 27 points, one of the most dominant conference seasons in 25 years, according to KenPom.com. The Zags are on course to tie the 2019 team for the biggest margin of victory in conference play. They have four of the top five spots on this list over the past 25 years, joined by the 1999 Duke team.

“They could win it all,” Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar said after an 86-66 loss to Gonzaga last Wednesday. “They have size, they have the ability to score, they can keep.”

Gonzaga closed out the regular season with road games against San Francisco and Saint Mary’s before earning the top seed in the West Coast Conference tournament in Las Vegas.

CLIMBING CATS

Arizona continues to find 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 to play 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-profile game on Saturday.

The wins, combined with Auburn’s loss to Florida, put the Wildcats just behind Gonzaga, where Lloyd coached under Mark Few for the previous 22 seasons.

“Weird, cool, awesome – I’m proud of these guys, they have a great team,” Lloyd said. “They are family and I think they are happy for us.”

UP/DOWN

Arkansas’ No. 18 made the biggest jump of the week, moving up five spots after blasting Missouri and closing Tennessee’s No. 17. 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 yet in the poll, dropping four spots after losing to Iowa. No. 10 Baylor, No. 11 Providence and No. 15 Illinois all dropped three spots.

IN AND OUT

The No. 23 Saint Mary’s returned to the polls after a week-long absence following victories 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 No. 19 ballot 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 from No. 22 after splitting against New Mexico and the Air Force last week.

EVE OF THE CONFERENCE

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 a ranked team.


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