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First things first: Gonzaga entertains Toreros

Gonzaga forward Johnathan Williams dunks on Portland’s Ray Barreno last Saturday (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

Is it a slam-dunk Gonzaga will be ranked No. 1 when the polls are released Monday? Nope.

Is it an open 5-footer on the low block that the Zags are on track to move into the top spot? Probably.

That seems to be the consensus nationally, though opinions vary wildly. Many have suggested it’s deserved or reluctantly give Gonzaga the nod. Some are waiting to see what happens when Kansas visits Kentucky on Saturday and Villanova entertains Virginia on Sunday.’s Gary Parrish promoted Gonzaga from fourth to first in his daily rankings Wednesday, calling it “a ranking earned.”

Sports Illustrated’s Seth Davis, who had GU sixth on his AP ballot last week, wrote that he’s undecided and will monitor this weekend’s results, but “regardless of what I do, it appears my fellow AP voters are going to install Gonzaga as the nation’s No. 1 team on Monday, assuming Gonzaga doesn’t lose at home to San Diego this weekend.”

Except Gonzaga doesn’t play San Diego this weekend. The third-ranked Zags (20-0, 8-0 WCC) entertain San Diego (10-10, 3-5) on Thursday before visiting Pepperdine in Malibu on Saturday in yet another split conference week (one home, one away).

Are we getting ahead of ourselves? Of course. But the chaos on Tuesday night – AP No. 1 Villanova, No. 2 Kansas and No. 4 Kentucky lose road games – at least provided Gonzaga an avenue to No. 1.

While Villanova and Kansas have an opportunity this weekend to rebuild their resumes with wins over highly-ranked opponents, the Zags will attempt to ignore the outside noise and add to the nation’s longest winning streak.

Gonzaga could be without freshman forward Killian Tillie, who sprained his ankle in Monday’s win at Portland. Junior forward Johnathan Williams, who hobbled off the floor about 30 seconds after Tillie, is expected to play.

San Diego handled BYU 88-75 on Jan. 14 and sits in sixth place in the WCC standings. Guard Olin Carter III, who missed USD’s last game with an illness, scored 28 points against the Cougars.

University High grad Brett Bailey is making a strong case for All-WCC honors in his senior season. He leads the Toreros in scoring (17.4) and rebounding (7).

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