Gonzaga basketball will most likely be the AP poll’s top-ranked team come Monday.
The Bulldogs are 28-2 and 15-0 in the WCC. They boast incredible wins over Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, St. Mary’s, BYU and Davidson.
Gonzaga’s only two losses are to Illinois and Butler—two teams that have also taken down current No. 1 Indiana.
As Gonzaga prepares to take its place at the top of the rankings, it is important to realize that this is one of the few remaining firsts for this consistent program.
And the students could not be more excited by the prospect.
To illustrate the excitement on campus, ask yourself the last time you saw a cafeteria of students cheering as loud as the ones in this video. These Gonzaga fans were ecstatic as they watched Indiana drop a game that left the top spot vulnerable.
When Indiana fell to Minnesota on Tuesday, twitter exploded with the mere notion that GU could move up into the top ranking. There was some talk as to whether Gonzaga was worthy of such an honor, but there was more talk of the excitement about a mid-major flirting with a top ranking.
Mark Few, who had previously stated that he left tracking the polls to his 10-year-old son, spoke about what a potential No. 1 ranking would mean for the Gonzaga community.
Few, normally a man of few words, put it best, saying it would “certainly be something to cross of the list."
However, the No. 1 ranking was far from guaranteed.
Many were quick to point out that Duke (ranked just behind Gonzaga) would likely jump to the top spot if they beat Virginia and Miami this week.
Then, when Duke lost at Virginia, twitter exploded again with the expectation that if Gonzaga could take down BYU, it would certainly be the nation’s highest ranked team.
Gonzaga won at BYU, one of the toughest environments in all of college basketball. In fact, GU was the first team to enter Provo as a favorite in close to eight years.
ZAGS # 1 BABY!— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) March 1, 2013
ZAGS WIN #TheOnlyReasonILookForwardToMonday— Savy Varyu (@savsav19) March 1, 2013
If Gonzaga beats Portland at home this weekend, I will vote them number one on my AP ballot. They deserve it!— Seth Davis (@SethDavisHoops) March 1, 2013
Heck of a week for Catholic hoops. One group ready to break away, keep Big East name and MSG. And Gonzaga one win away from first-ever No. 1— Pat Forde (@YahooForde) March 1, 2013
Should Gonzaga be ranked #1 this week?
In his postgame press conference, Mark Few reiterated what the importance of a No. 1 ranking would be for the Zags:
We’ve done so much over the years at GU because of great players, unbelievable players. There really isn't that much to do other than maybe go to a Final Four and win a national championship. We haven't won 30 games before in a season and we’ve never been ranked No. 1. And we haven't been a No. 1 seed.
For Mark Few, it is all about crossing items off Gonzaga’s bucket list.
For fans, it is all about national recognition.
For students at a small Jesuit university in the Pacific Northwest, it is not often that the national spotlight gets aimed their way. This campus is buzzing with excitement
And not just for a No. 1 ranking that most admit means little in terms of success.
While the No. 1 ranking is a barometer of relative success, it does not spell success for years to come. The greatest Gonzaga teams are not remembered for their high rankings.
Instead, they are remembered for their runs deep into March.
As Gonzaga continues to win, other potential top seeds continue to lose.
Don’t think for a second that Gonzaga fans are going to find a No. 1 ranking sufficient when a No. 1 seed is the true prize.