Gonzaga won’t open a third consecutive college basketball season as the No. 1 team in the country, but the Bulldogs won’t be far off when they host North Florida on Nov. 7.
Reigning national runner-up North Carolina was tabbed No. 1 in Monday’s preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll while Gonzaga checked in at No. 2. The Tar Heels, who return a majority of the players from last year’s team that lost to Kansas in the national championship, collected 47 of the 62 first-place votes from AP voters.
Gonzaga received 12 first-place votes while No. 3 Houston collected one and No. 4 Kentucky received two more. Baylor and Kansas were in a two-way tie for No. 5 while No. 7 Duke, No. 8 UCLA, No. 9 Creighton and No. 10 Arkansas rounded out the preseason top 10.
The Bulldogs’ loaded nonconference schedule pits them against no fewer than four teams ranked in the preseason top 25 and one more in an exhibition game.
Gonzaga and No. 11 Tennessee will meet on Oct. 28 in a preseason exhibition in Frisco, Texas. The Bulldogs return to Longhorn State for a Nov. 16 game against No. 12 Texas, meet No. 4 Kentucky on Nov. 20 at Spokane Arena, play No. 5 Baylor on Dec. 2 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and pay a visit to Birmingham, Alabama, for a Dec. 17 game against No. 20 Alabama. If Gonzaga advanced to the championship game of the PK85 tournament in Portland, there’s a chance the Bulldogs would face No. 7 Duke.
The 2022 nonconference schedule also features a game against Nov. 11 game against Michigan State on the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carried in San Diego. The Spartans were receiving votes in Monday’s poll as were Xavier and Florida, two other potential GU opponents at the PK85.
Three teams from the West Coast Conference – Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s and BYU – were ranked at different points of the 2021-22 season while San Francisco received Top 25 votes. The Bulldogs were the WCC’s only representative in Monday’s preseason poll.
Former Gonzaga assistant coach Tommy Lloyd led Arizona to a No. 1 NCAA Tournament seed in his first season with the Wildcats, who were ranked No. 2 – one place below his former school – in the final version of last year’s AP poll. Arizona, after losing three NBA draft picks this offseason, was ranked No. 17 on Monday.
Monday’s poll extends Gonzaga’s national record of 115 consecutive weeks spent in the AP Top 25. Villanova, which came in at No. 16 on Monday, is second at 70 straight weeks. Additionally, the Bulldogs have now spent 51 straight weeks ranked inside the top five of the AP poll and inside the top 10 for 82 straight weeks.
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