College Basketball Top 25: Gonzaga Bulldogs Deserve to Be Top Team in the Nation
When Monday's AP Top 25 comes out, college basketball fans will be interested to see which team takes over the No. 1 spot in the country.
Ever since Indiana lost to Butler in Week 6, the No. 1 spot has been a revolving door of teams attempting to prove that they are the best in the nation. We've seen Indiana (twice), Duke (twice), Louisville and Michigan all hold the ranking for part of the season, but the No. 1 team has already lost six times.
No. 1 Indiana and No. 4 Michigan have already lost this week, and No. 3 Duke or No. 5 Miami will be next.
It's time for a new No. 1 team—one that isn't even in one of the power conferences.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs started the season ranked No. 21 in the country, but have slowly climbed the polls to earn the No. 2 spot right now, per the latest AP poll.
While the idea that the No. 1 team could be a mid-major program may have been ludicrous in the past, this year has been wild enough to warrant Gonzaga taking over as the nation's top team at the end of the regular season.
The Bulldogs are the only team in the country with only two losses. Let me say that again—they are the only team with two losses or fewer in the country.
If you base ranking purely on which team has the best record in the nation, then Gonzaga has deserved the No. 1 ranking for weeks.
Gonzaga's first loss came against a red-hot Illinois team ranked No. 13 in the country on Dec. 8. The Illini were carried by Brandon Paul on the road, as Paul's 35 points on 10-of-16 shooting led all scorers.
Kelly Olynyk's six turnovers, and Gonzaga's 16 turnovers as a whole, proved costly.
Illinois also knocked down 11 threes in an astounding shooting performance.
The Bulldogs' only other loss came at the hands of No. 13 Butler in a road contest that no one can say Gonzaga was outclassed in.
The Zags appeared to have the game won, but an inexplicable turnover with three seconds left on a play that could have been called a foul led to Butler's Roosevelt Jones scoring a buzzer-beating game-winner to lift Butler to a 64-63 win.
Gonzaga might only be 1-2 against Top 25 teams this season, but the team could just as easily have been 2-1 in that category and 28-1 on the season.
Apart from those two losses, however, the team has been perfect, winning by an average of 20.3 points per game.
Say what you will about the team playing in a "weak conference," but Saint Mary's, Brigham Young and Santa Clara are all ranked in the RPI's Top 100, and Gonzaga has beaten these teams by an average of 18.4 points per game.
Do you buy that the West Coast Conference is a "weak conference"?
Gonzaga has absolutely dominated college hoops this year because of its depth. Led by 7-footer Kelly Olynyk, the team boasts several stars who could go for 30 points on any given night, including Kevin Pangos, Gary Bell Jr. and Elias Harris.
When you look at how many players on top teams average at least two points per game, Gonzaga trumps almost everyone in the Top 50.
With 12 guys who average at least a bucket per contest, the team is incredibly deep. To put that into perspective, Indiana only has nine guys who average two or more points per game, Michigan has eight, Duke has nine, Miami has eight and Georgetown only has seven.
The Bulldogs' depth (both in terms of impact players and true stars) has been the backbone of their success that should include the title of best team in the nation.
However, this is far from an open-and-shut case.
With No. 3 Duke hosting No. 5 Miami on Saturday, Duke could win its fourth game against a Top Five opponent and potentially leapfrog Gonzaga.
At this point, it would be nothing less than an insult to Gonzaga and mid-majors everywhere if the Bulldogs are snubbed once again, but it could happen.
While Gonzaga does have two games it must win this week to have a shot at the No. 1 ranking, it should have no problem beating two teams it defeated by at least 20 points earlier in the season.
Once the team finishes the regular season 29-2, it deserves the top spot for its consistency in a year of parity.
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