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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Auburn overtakes Gonzaga for top position in AP Top 25 poll, Zags drop to No. 2

UPDATED: Mon., Jan. 31, 2022

Gonzaga coach Mark Few tires to figure out the San Francisco Dons in the first half last Thursday in the McCarthey Athletic Center.  (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)
Gonzaga coach Mark Few tires to figure out the San Francisco Dons in the first half last Thursday in the McCarthey Athletic Center. (Dan Pelle/The Spokesman-Review)

For the second time this season, Gonzaga conceded its No. 1 ranking in the Associated Press Top 25, only this time it didn’t come on the heels of a Zags loss.

Auburn, which was ranked No. 2 in last week’s poll despite collecting more first-place votes than Gonzaga, used a big 80-71 home win over No. 12 Kentucky to catapult itself past the Bulldogs and into the No. 1 position on Monday . It’s the first time in program history the Tigers have been ranked No. 1 in the poll.

Gonzaga slips to No. 2 in the national rankings after spending its fourth week at No. 1. The Bulldogs opened the 2021-22 campaign on the top line, spent three consecutive weeks there, then toggled between Nos. 2-5 for seven weeks before moving back to No. 1 last week.

Arizona, coached by former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd, is the only top-five team that stayed put in this week’s poll, holding on to the No. 3 ranking. Baylor moved up one spot to No. 4 while Kansas moved up two spots to No. 5.

The rest of the Top 10 included Purdue at No. 6, Houston and UCLA at No. 7 (both teams totaled 1,116 points), Duke at No. 9 and Michigan State at No. 10.

Two other West Coast Conference teams could have chances to move into the poll soon. BYU, with 120 points, is virtually the country’s 26th-ranked the team this week, and Saint Mary’s received Top 25 consideration with three points in the Week 12 rankings.

The teams at the top of the poll were neck and neck last week with No. 1 Gonzaga collecting 1,486 points and No. 2 Auburn receiving 1,482. The Tigers had 36 first-place votes while the Bulldogs had only 25, but GU claimed the No. 1 ranking primarily because two voters kept Auburn outside the top five – one of those ranking Bruce Pearl’s team No. 6 and the other No. 9.

Gonzaga still received a share of the first-place votes this week, getting 15, but Auburn’s statement win over Kentucky earned the Tigers 45 first-place votes. Arizona also received one first-place vote.

Most will like Auburn’s chances of holding onto the No. 1 ranking for at least another week; the Tigers will be favored in both of its next games, at Missouri and home versus Oklahoma. Gonzaga is set to play two home games: Loyola Marymount on Thursday and Portland on Saturday.

Other rankings systems still like Gonzaga over Auburn. Arizona is No. 1 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, but the Bulldogs check in at No. 2 with No. 3 Houston, No. 4 Baylor and No. 5 Auburn following behind.

Gonzaga is No. 1 according to Ken Pomeroy’s metrics system, which has Auburn at No. 5 and holds the No. 1 spot in the coaches poll with 18 first place votes, ahead of No. 2 Auburn, which received 13 first place votes.

Joe Lunardi’s bracket projections lean toward Auburn, however. In Lunardi’s latest bracketology, Auburn is projected as a top overall seed at the NCAA Tournament, with Gonzaga, Arizona and Baylor also claiming No. 1 seeds.

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