Gonzaga lost for the first time since Dec. 4, but the road setback against Saint Mary’s didn’t cost the Bulldogs the No. 1 ranking in the AP college basketball poll.
There was plenty of movement in the poll thanks to an unprecedented Saturday with the top six teams absorbing losses, but the top stayed the same with No. 1 Gonzaga and No. 2 Arizona, led by former Zags assistant coach Tommy Lloyd.
Gonzaga (24-3, 13-1 West Coast Conference) actually has a bigger cushion over the Wildcats compared to last week. Gonzaga, which received all 61 first-place votes from the media panel last Monday, earned 46 this time but expanded its lead from 64 points to 144 over the Wildcats.
Arizona, which lost at Colorado, didn’t receive a first-place vote.
Baylor picked up four first-place votes and soared from 10th to third, just 18 points behind the Wildcats. The defending national champion Bears handled Kansas 80-70, improving to 10-1 vs. top 10 opponents in the last two seasons.
Duke had 11 first-place votes and climbed three spots to No. 4. Auburn slipped to fifth with Kansas at No. 6, followed by Kentucky, Purdue, Providence and Wisconsin.
Saint Mary’s (24-6) moved up four spots to No. 19. Boise State, coached by former GU assistant Leon Rice, received 56 points, first among teams outside the top 25.
The Zags, who don’t play again until Monday in the WCC Tournament semifinals in Las Vegas, have had three stints this season at No. 1, including the last three weeks. Gonzaga’s second run at No. 1 came to an end in late January, despite posting a pair of easy wins. Auburn and Gonzaga changed places at the top following the Tigers’ home win against Kentucky.
Auburn (25-4) is 3-3 in its last six games, including losses to current No. 13 Tennessee and Arkansas, which shares the 14th spot with Houston.
Gonzaga and Arizona also maintained the first two places in the NET rankings. Houston, Kentucky and Baylor rounded out the top five.
The Zags have wins over Texas Tech (No. 12 AP, No. 10 NET), UCLA (No. 17 AP, No. 13 NET), Texas (No. 21 AP, No. 15 NET) and Saint Mary’s (No. 19 NET). GU also won both meetings against San Francisco (No. 28 NET).
Gonzaga’s losses are to Saint Mary’s, Duke (No. 9 NET) and Alabama (No. 25 AP, No. 22 NET).
The Zags held on to No. 1 in the USA Today coaches poll with 20 first-place votes and 771 points. They received all 32 first-place votes last Monday. Duke replaced Arizona at No. 2 with nine first-place votes. The Wildcats are third, Baylor fourth and Auburn fifth.
Gonzaga also stayed put as the top overall seed in ESPN’s Joe Lunardi’s latest projections. Arizona, Kansas and Baylor join GU as one seeds.
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