Gonzaga Bulldogs Become No.1 in AP College Basketball Pre-Season Top 25 Poll

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Pretty much the only thing left in Gonzaga basketball under Mark Few is to win a national championship.The ‘Zags crossed another first off the list on Monday: they will open the season at No.1.

Despite the loss of West Coast Conference Player of the Year Filip Petrusev, the Bulldogs received 28 first-place votes and 1,541 points from a 64-member national media panel. It was just enough to beat Baylor (24 votes for first place) by just one point for first place in the top 25 of college basketball preseason, Associated Press, heading for the delayed start of the season. November 25.

“It’s a great honor to be selected No.1,” said Few. “We understand this is more a reflection of what our program has accomplished over the years and look forward to playing up to that standard as we begin our season. ”

Villanova received 11 first place votes and finished third, followed by Virginia with the remaining first place vote. Iowa was selected fifth behind national leader of Player of the Year Luka Garza, their highest preseason ranking in school history.

Then came a wave of blue blood with Kansas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Duke and Kentucky completing the top 10.

The Bulldogs spent four weeks at No.1 last season before finishing second to the Jayhawks in the final poll, which was taken when the NCAA tournament was called off by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Petrusev’s choice to play professionally in Serbia and then make it into the draft was a big blow, but the Bulldogs still have the parts to win it all. Corey Kispert and Joel Ayayi provide a punch and the arrival of potential goalkeeper Jalen Suggs should stabilize their backcourt.

The Zags have certainly scheduled as title contenders. They will open Oct. 26 against Kansas at Fort Myers Tip-Off, where they will also play against Auburn, and face Baylor in Indianapolis and Iowa in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The Bears, who also have their highest pre-season ranking, spent five weeks at No.1 last season and only lost one starter, big man Freddie Gillespie. But coach Scott Drew could have the best backcourt in the country with Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell and MaCio Teague the best defenseman Mark Vital and depth behind top 100 rookie LJ Cryer and transfer Adam Flagler.

The Bears also built a brutal schedule, playing Illinois and potentially Villanova in the Empire Classic with Gonzaga.

“I think it starts with the experience,” Drew said. “Anytime you fire a lot of successful players, in a season that has been set back and a short summer, you definitely benefit from having guys who have college background. ”

The Wildcats, who tied their highest pre-season ranking at No.3 in 1995-96, had hopes that Saddiq Bey would return for another season. But despite losing the versatile forward to the NBA, coach Jay Wright still has peer guard Collin Gillespie, double-double machine Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and strong starter Jermaine Samuels.

After a 30-game winning streak and a national title, Virginia fell back slightly last season, going 23-7 before the season was called off. But coach Tony Bennett’s side are expected to be an ACC favorite again behind the transfer of Marquette Sam Hauser, top 100 prospects Reece Beekman and Jabri Abdur-Rahim, and the Cavs’ lockdown defense.

Garza was second behind Dayton’s Obi Toppin for the National Player of the Year award last season, and the Iowa big man flirted with the NBA before returning to the Hawkeyes. But it’s not a solo show: Joe Wieskamp averages 14.0 points, CJ Fredrick and Connor McCaffery are experienced, and Jordan Bohannon is healthy after missing all but 10 games last season.

“Having seven players with starting experience gives us incredible versatility,” said Hawkeyes coach Fran McCaffery. “In a year where you might have a player away for a few weeks (due to COVID-19), depth will be important. ”

THE SECOND FIVE

The Jayhawks lost Devon Dotson and Udoka Azubuike to a team that was likely the No.1 seed if the NCAA tournament had been played, but they restored enough firepower to give Baylor a challenge in the Big 12.

Wisconsin and Illinois join the Hawkeyes in giving the Big Ten a fresh flavor at the top of the poll. Young and rebuilding Duke and Kentucky could take a few bumps early in the season but could claim the championship by March.

THE REST OF THE SURVEY

Creighton lost Ty-Shon Alexander to the NBA and Davion Mintz to Kentucky, but still landed the 11th preseason spot in school history, followed by Tennessee, Michigan State, Texas Tech. and West Virginia.

North Carolina was next with Houston in 17th place, its highest preseason ranking since Hakeem Olajuwon’s Phi Slama Jama final team started the 1983-84 season at No.3. Arizona State, Texas and Oregon finish the top 20 with Florida State, UCLA, Ohio State, Rutgers and Michigan rounding out the Top 25.

ON THE DOOR

LSU was the first team off the standings, followed by Memphis, Florida, Alabama and Indiana. San Diego State got six votes after finishing No.6 in the latest poll last season, but lost Mountain West Player of the Year Malachi Flynn and two other elite producers. Louisville and Seton Hall are also unranked after finishing in the top 15 last season.

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