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Gonzaga Basketball

Gonzaga finishes at No. 15 in final AP poll, Washington State checks in at No. 23

Gonzaga players wave and applaud their fans after falling to Purdue in an NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game March 29 in Detroit.  (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

Gonzaga’s placement in the final edition of the AP Top 25 was fitting for a team that bowed out of the NCAA Tournament in the Sweet 16.

The Bulldogs, who saw their season end with an 80-68 loss to Purdue in Detroit, checked in at No. 15 in the postseason edition of the AP poll, climbing three spots from where they were when the final regular-season rankings came out on March 18.

Tuesday marked the first time the AP released a post-NCAA Tournament poll, with rankings coming out less than 24 hours after UConn defeated Purdue 75-60 in Monday’s national championship game.

Washington State, which advanced to the Round of 32 while making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008, rose two spots to finish at No. 23 in Tuesday’s poll.

After becoming the first team in 17 years to repeat as national champion, UConn finished at No. 1 in the postseason rankings followed by No. 2 Purdue and both Alabama and Houston at No. 3. Rounding out the top-10 were No. 5 Tennessee, No. 6 Illinois, No. 7 North Carolina, No. 8 Iowa State, No. 9 Duke and No. 10 North Carolina State.

Gonzaga’s final ranking wasn’t far off from where AP voters had the Bulldogs when the season began. Mark Few’s team opened at No. 11 in the preseason poll and spent four weeks there before climbing as high as No. 7 in the fifth edition of the poll.

After two weeks inside the top-10, Gonzaga lost four of eight games in December and January, bumping the Bulldogs out of the AP poll for the first time in eight years.

Gonzaga spent six weeks unranked, but a six-game win streak pushed the Bulldogs back into the poll on Feb. 26. Tuesday’s ranking was GU’s highest since the Bulldogs came in at No. 13 on Dec. 25.

Washington State made its first appearance in the AP Top 25 in 16 years, checking in at No. 21 on Feb. 19 and climbing as high as No. 18 before sliding to No. 25 in the final regular-season poll. Kyle Smith’s Cougars won their NCAA Tournament opener against Drake before bowing out with a Round of 32 loss to Iowa State.

In the Pac-12’s final season, WSU was one of only two teams from the conference to finish ranked inside the AP Top 25. Arizona, led by former Gonzaga assistant Tommy Lloyd, just missed out on a top-10 ranking and finished at No. 11.

Gonzaga was one of two West Coast Conference teams ranked on Tuesday. Despite winning two of three games against the Zags last season, Saint Mary’s finished five spots below GU in the final AP poll, checking in at No. 21 after the Gaels were knocked out of the NCAA Tournament with a first-round loss to Grand Canyon.

Both Inland Northwest schools finished in similar positions in the final edition of the USA Today Coaches Poll, which was also released on Tuesday. Gonzaga didn’t move up or down in the Coaches Poll, finishing at No. 16, while WSU climbed three spots to No. 24.

Gonzaga concluded the 2023-24 season ranked No. 12 in KenPom while WSU finished at No. 42. In Evan Miyakawa’s rankings, the Zags closed at No. 11 while the Cougars finished No. 44.