For months, Gonzaga players sat, waited patiently and watched as teams with worse records continually passed over them. They just kept racking up wins and bided their time.
Their time is now.
Gonzaga ascended to its second No. 1 ranking in school history Monday and sits alone as the only unbeaten in college basketball. Following the Bulldogs are Baylor, Kansas, Villanova and Arizona to round out the Top Five.
Here is a look at how the entire poll played out:
|Week 13 AP Poll|
|18||Saint Mary's (Calif.)|
Gonzaga continued its rampage through the West Coast Conference over the last week, earning definitive wins over Portland, San Diego and Pepperdine. Head coach Mark Few's team has won each of its conference games by double digits and also boasts wins over Arizona, Florida, Iowa State, Tennessee and Washington in nonconference play.
"I think you have to understand the only poll we really want to be No. 1 in is the one at the end of the year," Few said, per Jim Meehan of the Spokesman-Review. "These things just kind of track who is winning and losing. I will say as we get deeper into the season the polls get more accurate because everybody gets a better feel for everybody's schedule."
Gonzaga earned its first No. 1 ranking in March 2013. The Zags' latest ascent is only another legacy-builder for Few, who has made the NCAA tournament 17 straight seasons and will be looking to earn his second No. 1 seed as a coach in March.
Before Few, Gonzaga had reached the NCAA tournament twice in school history.
"I feel like we're doing our jobs, we're playing really well as a team," Zach Collins said, per Meehan. "If that means we're No. 1, that means we're No. 1. But that's not what we're worried about right now."
Gonzaga's good fortune is the result of those around it faltering.
Villanova, which entered the week at No. 1, blew a 17-point lead in a 74-72 loss to unranked Marquette. The Wildcats gave up 50 second-half points and allowed Marquette to shoot 50 percent from the floor, while they went a jarring 6-of-34 from beyond the arc.
Coach Jay Wright and Co. looked like they were about to drop their second straight game Sunday, making just four first-half field goals against Virginia. But Villanova found its stroke just in time, and a Donte DiVincenzo tip-in as time expired allowed the Wildcats to squeak out with a 61-59 victory. Kris Jenkins is just 2-of-17 over his last two games, and he and Josh Hart combined to miss 15 of their 19 shots against Virginia.
"You can tell your players all you want about, 'OK, we might get away with this in this game, but when we play the best teams, we're not,'" Wright said, per Barry Svrluga of the Washington Post. "And they saw it. They were saying it to each other."
Also faltering was Kansas, which buckled under West Virginia's press in an 85-69 loss. The Mountaineers forced 13 turnovers and got 27 points from Esa Ahmad for their second win over a Top Two opponent this season.
Kansas righted its ship quickly with a 79-73 win over Kentucky on Saturday, which gave the Wildcats two straight losses. The Wildcats moved back four spots to No. 8 after dropping an 82-80 trip to Tennessee and failing to hold home court against Kansas. They had previously put together a seven-game winning streak since losing to Louisville.
A week after putting together impressive wins over Notre Dame and Louisville, Florida State also fell back over the last seven days. The Seminoles lost by double digits in road trips to Georgia Tech and Syracuse, a pair of ACC outfits that are unlikely to find their way into the field of 68. Georgia Tech held them to 28.2 percent shooting, and they were only slightly better on offense in Syracuse.
Notre Dame was the only other ranked team to lose two games this week. Fourteen ranked teams dropped at least one game, including 12 of the Top 17.
Northwestern is the lone team to enter the poll at No. 25. The Wildcats have won six straight games and sit at 18-4. They replace Xavier, which has lost four of its last six games.