Photo Credit: The Gonzaga Bulletin (featured image), CBS Sports (team logos)
After much talk about how good of a college basketball team the Gonzaga Bulldogs have been this season, which you can read about both HERE and HERE, it would appear that the Bulldogs will be ranked #1 in next week’s AP Poll for just the 2nd season in school history, the other being in the 2012-2013 season.
The Bulldogs came into this past week ranked #3 in the AP Poll with a 19-0 record and have been the nation’s only unbeaten team since the Baylor Bears lost their first game back on Monday, January 9th, 2017, to the West Virginia Mountaineers. They now hold a 21-0 record and have their work cut out for them to become the #1 team in the nation when next week’s AP Poll is released. The Bulldogs are on the road tonight against the Pepperdine Waves (6-15) in hopes to run their winning streak to 22 games, which would tie the school record set back in the 2014-2015 season.
Because the #1 Villanova Wildcats lost to the Marquette Golden Eagles and the #2 Kansas Jayhawks lost to the #18 West Virginia Mountaineers this past week, a Gonzaga win tonight will likely jump them to the #1 spot in the AP Poll, especially since the #4 Kentucky Wildcats also lost to the Tennessee Volunteers this week, so Kentucky will not jump the Bulldogs for the #1 spot.
Assuming the Bulldogs win over the Waves tonight, it will be hard to knock them off the throne as the #1 team in the country prior to the NCAA basketball tournament. Of their nine remaining games following tonight’s game, the game on the road against the #21 Saint Mary’s Gaels on Saturday, February 11th, 2017, looks to be the toughest, and the Bulldogs already crushed the Gaels back on Saturday, January 14th, 2017, by a score of 79-56. Even in the West Coast Conference (WCC) tournament, it will be hard for any WCC team to knock off Gonzaga, especially since Saint Mary’s would present the toughest test.
As long as they keep winning, the title of #1 team in the country belongs to the Gonzaga Bulldogs. While the WCC is not a very competitive conference, Gonzaga has done their part in out-of-conference games against tough opponents as well, so as long as they don’t falter before the NCAA basketball tournament and lose to a team they should beat (so anyone they play against), they will have earned the right to be called the #1 team in the country.