There was essentially no question Gonzaga was going to stay at No. 1 when the first AP basketball poll of the regular season was released Monday.
The Zags (2-0) made sure of that by handling No. 5 Texas 86-74 on Saturday. The question was whether No. 2 UCLA, which knocked off No. 4 Villanova in overtime, would take some of Gonzaga’s first-place votes.
That didn’t happen. Gonzaga received 55 first-place votes from the media panel, the same number it received in the preseason poll. UCLA received the other six-place votes, down two from the preseason rankings. It appears there were 61 voters compared to 63 for the preseason poll.
While Gonzaga maintained its first-place votes, it did lose some of its cushion over the Bruins. The Zags’ 103-point preseason lead dropped to 67.
There will be one more poll released before the Zags and Bruins clash Nov. 23 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but it would take a major upset to prevent a 1-vs.-2 showdown.
Gonzaga beat Alcorn State 84-57 on Monday and host Bellarmine on Friday before facing Central Michigan next Monday in Las Vegas. UCLA has home dates against Long Beach State tonight and North Florida on Wednesday before meeting Bellarmine next Monday at T-Mobile.
The Zags will remain in Las Vegas to tangle with Duke on Nov. 26. The Blue Devils moved from ninth to seventh after defeating No. 10 Kentucky 79-71 in their season opener.
Gonzaga has been No. 1 for 19 consecutive weeks (AP doesn’t issue a poll after the season). That ranks fifth all-time. UCLA holds the record with 46 consecutive weeks from 1971-74. GU has held the AP No. 1 ranking 35 times.
Texas dropped three spots to No. 8.
BYU received 26 points, fourth among teams receiving votes outside of the top 25. The Cougars (2-0), who had three points in the preseason poll, defeated San Diego State 66-60 on Friday.
The SEC has six ranked teams, including Alabama at No. 14. Gonzaga and Alabama tangle Dec. 4 in the Battle in Seattle. The Big Ten has five ranked teams, three in the top 10. The Pac-12 has three in the top 25: No. 2 UCLA, No. 12 Oregon and No. 25 USC.
UCLA is No. 1 and Gonzaga No. 2 in Andy Katz’s Power 36 rankings on NCAA.com. Duke is No. 5, Texas No. 12 and Alabama No. 14. CBS Sports Top 25 and 1’s top five is Gonzaga, UCLA, Kansas, Villanova and Michigan.
The Zags remain No. 1 in KenPom, followed by Michigan, Kansas, Illinois, Purdue, UCLA, Baylor, Villanova, Tennessee and Houston. The WCC is seventh in KenPom’s conference rankings.
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