Gonzaga maintained its hold on No. 1 in the AP college basketball poll, and the Zags can’t help or hurt their position this week.
Riding a 20-game winning streak, the Zags (29-2) completed the regular season and an unbeaten march through the West Coast Conference with a 69-55 win at second-place Saint Mary’s on Saturday.
Gonzaga doesn’t play again until next Monday in the WCC Tournament semifinals at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. Meanwhile, teams right behind the Zags have another week of regular-season games to enhance or damage their poll position, and more important, their NCAA Tournament seeding résumés.
Gonzaga received 42 first-place votes, down two from a week ago, while No. 2 Virginia picked up six to reach 21. The Cavaliers trimmed the Zags’ 56-point lead to 25.
The Zags remain No. 1 in the NET rankings, followed by Virginia, Duke, Tennessee and Kentucky. NET rankings will be one of the main tools used by the selection committee to evaluate teams.
Gonzaga figures to be safe on the No. 1 seed line if it wins the WCC Tournament. The Zags are 4-2 in Quadrant 1 games and 8-0 in Quadrant 2. The Zags would have another Quadrant 1 opportunity if they meet Saint Mary’s in the title game; the Gaels are 38th in the NET rankings.
CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm has Virginia as the top overall seed, with Gonzaga, Duke and Tennessee as the other No. 1 seeds. Michigan, North Carolina, Kentucky and LSU are projected two seeds.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has GU, Duke, Virginia and Kentucky as top seeds, with Tennessee, Michigan, North Carolina and Michigan State as twos.
USA Today considers eight teams in the mix for a No. 1 seed. The newspaper’s top four overall seeds, in order, are Virginia, Duke, Gonzaga and Tennessee. North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan State and Michigan are two seeds.
Foes from Gonzaga’s nonconference schedule hold down the 3-5 spots in the AP poll. North Carolina, a 103-92 winner over the Zags on Dec. 15, continued its climb up the rankings. The Tar Heels, who beat Zion Williamson-less Duke 88-72 in Durham on Feb. 20, moved up to third after a 2-0 week.
Duke, which lost at full strength to Gonzaga 89-87 in the Maui Invitational championship game, slipped to fourth, but still received one of the 64 first-place votes from the media panel.
Tennessee, which knocked off GU 76-73 on Dec. 9 in Phoenix, moved up two spots to fifth. The Volunteers’ 71-52 victory over Kentucky dropped the Wildcats from fourth to sixth.
North Carolina and Duke collide again Saturday in Chapel Hill. Virginia has two games against unranked teams this week: the Cavaliers visit Syracuse tonight and entertain Louisville on Saturday.
Michigan, Texas Tech, Michigan State and LSU round out the top 10.
The Zags held down the top spot in the USA Today poll, but No. 2 Virginia inched closer. Gonzaga received 27 first-place votes and 795 points to Virginia’s five and 772 points. The Cavaliers picked up three additional first-place votes and GU one of the four that went to Kentucky in last week’s poll.
The coaches’ poll mirrors AP from No. 1 Gonzaga through No. 8 Texas Tech. Purdue is No. 9, followed by LSU and Michigan State.
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