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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga No. 11 in AP preseason poll, breaks streak of five straight years inside top 10

Gonzaga's Ben Gregg (left) and Nolan Hickman sign autographs during the Showcase celebrity golf exhibition in July at the Coeur d’Alene Resort Golf Course.  (By Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga will begin the men’s basketball season outside the top 10 – barely – for the first time since the 2017-18 campaign.

The Zags came in at No. 11 in the Associated Press preseason poll, released Monday. In the last five seasons, GU has been second, first, first, third and eighth. The 2017-18 Zags, No. 18 at the outset, finished 32-5 after falling to Florida State in the Sweet 16 .

Kansas is the preseason No. 1 for the third time since Bill Self became the Jayhawks coach in 2003. Kansas received 46 of 63 first-place votes from the media panel and 1,548 points. Duke was second with 11 first-place votes and 1,466 points, followed by Purdue at 1,436.

Michigan State, Marquette, UConn, Houston, Creighton, Tennessee and Florida Atlantic rounded out the top 10. Gonzaga point guard Ryan Nembhard transferred from Creighton.

Arizona, led by former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd, is No. 12 and Saint Mary’s is No. 23.

Gonzaga was picked second behind Saint Mary’s in the West Coast Conference coaches’ preseason poll.

“I don’t really follow that stuff, I truly don’t,” Zags coach Mark Few said last Thursday when asked about the WCC poll. “Preseason anythings are the biggest waste of time to me. I don’t know why you guys go down this path every year, it’s just a fool’s errand, so have at it. I don’t give it another thought.”

Few also noted that he didn’t cast Gonzaga’s vote in the coaches poll.

North Carolina was the preseason No. 1 last year and didn’t make the NCAA Tournament, the first time that’s happened since the tournament field expanded in 1985. Gonzaga opened at No. 2 and ended at No. 9 in the final poll, released just before March Madness. The Zags reached the Elite Eight before losing to eventual national champion UConn.

Gonzaga has appeared in 133 straight AP polls, easily the longest active streak in the nation. Houston is next at 64. GU is the only team in the country to appear in every AP poll since 2017.

The Zags have been ranked in the AP preseason poll for 14 consecutive years and they’ve been in the top 20 the last 11 seasons. GU has appeared in an AP poll for 23 straight seasons.

Gonzaga will face at least six foes in the top 25 – No. 3 Purdue, No. 6 UConn, No. 16 Kentucky, No. 17 San Diego State, No. 21 USC and No. 23 Saint Mary’s twice.

The Zags potentially could face No. 9 Tennessee in the second round of the loaded Maui Invitational and No. 1 Kansas/No. 5 Marquette or UCLA (receiving votes) on the tournament’s third and final day.

A year ago, GU faced four preseason top 25 teams and Tennessee in an exhibition game.

Boise State, coached by former Gonzaga assistant Leon Rice, received four votes in the poll. The Broncos were picked second behind 2023 national runner-up San Diego State in the Mountain West preseason poll.

Gonzaga is No. 12 in the USA Today coaches’ preseason poll, one spot behind Arizona. Saint Mary’s is No. 23.

The coaches’ top 10: Kansas, Purdue, Duke, Michigan State, UConn, Houston, Marquette, Creighton, Florida Atlantic and Tennessee.

Washington, which entertains GU on Dec. 9, received five votes. Yale, Gonzaga’s season-opening opponent on Nov. 10, received one vote.