Gonzaga Tops 1st 2021 NCAA Basketball NET Rankings; Baylor, Tennessee Follow

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistJanuary 4, 2021

Gonzaga forward Drew Timme (2) and forward Corey Kispert (24) walk not he court during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against San Francisco in Spokane, Wash., Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. (AP Photo/Young Kwak)
Young Kwak/Associated Press

Already ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press Top 25 and the coaches poll, the Gonzaga Bulldogs also occupy the top spot in the first NET rankings of the season.

Gonzaga leads the list ahead of Baylor, Tennessee, Illinois and Villanova.

The NET (NCAA Evaluation Tool) ranks teams based on two metrics: the Team Value Index (which rewards teams for beating quality opponents) and an adjusted net efficiency rating. That's a change this season; the NET had used five components to rank teams since its introduction in 2018.

The Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in the AP poll and No. 2 in the coaches poll before the season, and head coach Mark Few's squad has lived up to that billing with 10 straight wins. The Bulldogs' marquee win is over Iowa, ranked No. 7 in the NET, and their average margin of victory is 22.7 points.

The stage is set for Gonzaga to run the table during the regular season. The highest-ranked team still on its schedule is No. 52 BYU on Feb. 6 and Feb. 27.

Baylor has arguably been more dominant than Gonzaga. The Bears are 9-0 and are outscoring their opponents by 30.3 points per game. Their best victory, over No. 4 Illinois on Dec. 2, is better than Gonzaga's.

The teams were supposed to meet in Indianapolis on Dec. 5, but positive COVID-19 tests in the Gonzaga program forced the game to be canceled.

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With two months remaining in the regular season and conference play just getting underway, there will likely be a lot of changes in the rankings in the coming weeks.

For now, Gonzaga and Baylor have established themselves as the class of men's college basketball in 2020-21. Tennessee, Illinois, Villanova, Michigan, Iowa, Houston and Texas are among the contenders to steal the spotlight.