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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga remains No. 1, but Duke cuts into Zags’ lead

Gonzaga has brought stability to the No. 1 ranking, but AP Top 25 voters took note of the Bulldogs’ two closer-than-expected wins last week.

The Zags (16-1) are still comfortably at the top with 54 of 63 first-place votes and 1,607 points, but their lead over No. 2 Duke slipped to 62 points, down from 105 in last week’s poll.

Duke (13-1) has nine first-place votes after receiving one a week ago. No. 3 Kansas earned two first-place votes and 1,513 points.

Gonzaga’s three-week stay at No. 1 is the longest this season.

“I dropped Gonzaga from No. 1 to No. 4 because of two close wins against Portland and Pepperdine,” Sam Blum wrote in a Monday morning article on the Dallas Morning News Website. “Particularly in the latter game, the No. 1 team needs to be better than that.”

Several other voters obviously felt the same way about Gonzaga’s 85-72 road win over Portland and a 75-70 victory over Pepperdine.

The top three teams stayed in place but not the rest of the top 10. No. 4 Baylor jumped up two spots for its first top-five ranking in three seasons. No. 5 Auburn, which joins No. 7 San Diego State as the last two unbeatens in Division I, climbed three spots.

Butler is No. 6, the highest mark in program history. Preseason No. 1 Michigan State returned to the top 10 at No. 8 after handling Michigan, which plummeted seven spots to No. 19.

Oregon dropped from fourth to ninth. Florida State soared eight spots to No. 10 after thumping Louisville. Ohio State tumbled six spots to No. 11 after losing to Wisconsin.

Louisville slipped from seventh to 13th. Four weeks ago, the Cardinals were No. 1 with 55 first-place votes.

Saint Mary’s received three points, losing 25 points after a four-overtime loss to Pacific. BYU received one point.

Gonzaga is No. 7 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, down one place from last Monday. San Diego State continues to hold the top spot, followed by Kansas, Butler, Duke, Baylor and Auburn.

ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s latest bracketology projects Gonzaga as the West’s No. 1 seed facing the winner of Utah Valley-Prairie View A&M in the opening round in Spokane. The Zags remain the No. 1 overall seed, according to Lunardi.

Lunardi lists BYU as an 11 seed facing No. 6 Kentucky in Spokane. No. 7 Saint Mary’s matches up with No. 10 Georgetown in St. Louis in Lunardi’s bracket.

The Zags held the top spot in the USA Today poll, but No. 2 Duke and No. 3 Kansas made up some ground. GU received 27 of 32 first-place votes and 788 points. Duke had four first-place votes and 764 points. The Blue Devils were 45 points behind last week.

The Jayhawks received the other first-place vote and 739 points, moving 19 points closer to Gonzaga than a week ago.