The sixth-ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs have sidestepped the upsets above and below them in the polls with five straight wins.
“We definitely see all of that but we’re just trying to go one game at a time,” sophomore guard Gary Bell Jr. said. “We’re trying to get a No. 1 seed and keep winning games.”
Not to mention a WCC championship. Gonzaga (22-2, 9-0 WCC) faces Loyola Marymount at 5 tonight at the McCarthey Athletic Center, nine days after routing the Lions by 45 in Los Angeles. Second-place Saint Mary’s, which entertains Gonzaga on Thursday, is 9-1.
Four of the top five ranked teams lost within the last seven days, which will trigger movement when the polls are released Monday. Illinois knocked off Indiana on Thursday, marking the fifth straight week the No. 1 team has lost. No. 2 Florida was thumped by Arkansas on Tuesday and Texas Christian earned its first Big 12 win by defeating No. 5 Kansas on Wednesday.
LMU (8-15, 1-9) dropped into last place in the WCC after a 69-60 loss to Portland on Thursday.
The Lions have dropped seven in a row, six by single digits. Anthony Ireland, who averages 19.8 points, has shared or led LMU in scoring in 14 of the last 15 games.
“There is some real talent on that team,” Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. “What happened down at Loyola Marymount kind of snowballed a little bit. We have to make sure we approach (LMU) the same way we just did (in Thursday’s 82-56 win over Pepperdine).”
Gonzaga has won nine WCC games by an average of 17.4 points. Junior forward Kelly Olynyk is averaging 20.3 points and 26.2 minutes in conference.