Gonzaga Bulldogs claim No. 1 in AP top 25; Auburn, Arizona, Kentucky follow
February 14, 2022
Following Auburn's loss, the Gonzaga Bulldogs reaffirmed their place at the top of the Associated Press rankings. After opening the season as the top-ranked team in the country, Gonzaga lost to Duke, dropping to third in the poll. They reclaimed the top spot after winning against Texas A&M on January 17. The Auburn Tigers then took Gonzaga's throne and forced the Bulldogs to sit comfortably at the No. 2. The Zags dominated the Pacific Squad and then faced off against Saint Mary's Gaels. Combined with Auburn's loss to Arkansas on February 9, these two victories secured their place in the poll. This season, the Bulldogs earned 56 out of 60 first-place votes. They were the preseason top-ranked team until losing to Duke. They then spent a week at the top before falling back to second place in mid-January.
Gonzaga top contender all season long
No other college men's basketball teams have replicated Gonzaga's performance this season. The Bulldogs have been in the top two conversations since the preseason until now. Their performance has been stable and made it a regular. From the start of the 2018-19 season, the Bulldogs have been at the top of the poll for at least four weeks. They have now spent 31 of 72 weeks at the top of the rankings over the last four seasons. Their closest competitors are Duke and Baylor. The offensive efficiency rating of the Zags is also higher than it has been in the last three seasons. The Bulldogs lead the country with 90 points per game. According to KenPom's efficiency metrics, the Zags ranked second to Purdue with 122.6 points on every 100 possessions. Moreover, Gonzaga has four players averaging double-digit points and another three with at least seven points per game. Following their win against Saint Mary's on Saturday, Drew Timme mentioned the team's style of play and how it translates to how they play on the court. "That's kind of how we play," the top scorer said. "You look at the scoreboard and it's, `Oh, he had 20, he had 20.' It's just how we play the game. I think that's the beauty of this program and what (Few) has built here." The chance to finish the season as the top-ranked team is still very much possible for the Zags. They will face off against a couple of weak teams before facing off against Saint Mary's and San Francisco.
Other top tier contenders
After suffering a loss to Arkansas, Bruce Pearl's Auburn team earned four first-place votes. Before the loss, the team had a 19-game winning streak and is now sitting at the No. 2. Following Auburn, Arizona is at No. 3. The Arizona Wildcats continued their winning ways with victories against Colorado and Utah. They shot 51 percent from the field and had 20 assists on 29 made shots on their 76-55 victory over Colorado. Kentucky and Purdue occupy the fourth and fifth positions. Then, Kansas, Providence, and Baylor filled up to the sixth, seventh, and eighth spot while Duke and Villanova got kicked out of the top ten.
What to watch for each conference
The Big Ten and the Big 12 had five ranked teams each, while the SEC and the Big East had four each. Lastly, the Pac-12 had three teams, and the ACC, West Coast, American Athletic, and Missouri Valley had one each.