Gonzaga, UCLA hold top polls ahead of the showdown
Gonzaga and UCLA continued to hold first and second places in the Associated Press’s poll of the top 25 college basketball on Monday, setting the stage for their highly-anticipated showdown this week, while Purdue and Duke stormed their way into the top five.
The Bulldogs (4-0) had an easy week with wins over Alcorn State and Bellarmine and earned 55 first-place votes from 61 people from the medial team that regularly covers college basketball. The Bruins (4-0) took five first-place votes after beating Long Beach State and North Florida last week to head to Las Vegas with some momentum.
Gonzaga played Central Michigan and faced UCLA Bellarmine Monday night at the Good Sam Empire Classic. Next, the nation’s two best teams will face off Tuesday night in a Final Four rematch from a game the Bulldogs won in overtime.
“It’s important to everyone if you want to be in the NCAA Championships,” Gonzaga coach Mark Vue said. “If you want to get a high seed, you have to play on really good teams. I think it’s important for college basketball.”
Purdue got the only other 1st place vote and Kansas jumped to third in the Top 25 after Boilermakers beat the then-numberjack. 5 Villanova as a Hall of Fame Tip-Off. The Jayhawks finished fourth while the Blue Devils finished fifth.
Defending National Champion Baylor jumped to sixth after a rough attack on central Arkansas and Stanford, while the Wildcats slipped to seventh with a seventh-place finish. 12 – Tennessee before losing to Purdue. Texas and Memphis came next, with Kentucky and Alabama placing 10th in the second regular season poll of the season.
The Wildcats and Crimson Tide followed Houston, Arkansas, Illinois and Tennessee for 15th.
St. Bonaventure cemented its status as the main mid-season darling this season by jumping six places to 16th with wins over Clemson and Marquette. Arizona made the biggest jump in the poll at 17th after beating and overtaking Wichita State at the time – no. 4 Michigan in the Romanian main event, followed by another newcomer to the poll at BYU.
“We have good players,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “I know we’ve fallen out of the spotlight; maybe it’s my fault a little bit because I didn’t look for him. But did you know? We’re here now. And we belong.”
Auburn and Michigan rounded out the top 20, with Seton Hall, Yukon, Florida, USC and Xavier completing the survey.
“That’s where we are as a program,” said Seton Hall coach Kevin Willard, whose Pirates beat the Wolverines last week to claim their first win over a non-conference team in the first five on the road. “We can play with anyone in the country and we’ve done that for the past seven years.”
SEC – 6 (No. 10, 10 tie, 13, 15, 19, 23)
Big East – 4 (No. 7, 21, 22, 25)
Large 10-3 (No. 3, 14, 20)
Large 12-3 (numbers 4, 6, 8)
Pac-12-3 (No. 2, 17, 24)
American – 2 (No. 9, 12)
West Coast – 2 (No. 1, 18)
ACC – 1 (No. 5)
Atlantic 10-1 (No. 16)
Up and down
Purdue and Baylor advanced three places into the top ten, and Alabama climbed four places to make up a tie with rival Kentucky on the Securities and Exchange Commission. The biggest drop came with Michigan, which finished fourth before two defeats saw coach Joan Howard’s crew falter all the way to No. 20.
It’s part of the game: Adversity. Adversity, it defines a man, or how he responds next time,” said Howard, whose team had another tough test with North Carolina on December 1st.
inside and outside
Arizona ranked 31st last week and debuted in the survey at 17th this week, while BYU was due to be 29th a week ago and entered the poll at 18th. Seton Hall had finished 38th a week earlier. It came in at number 21, while Xavier gave the poll four newcomers this week.
Oregon went from 12th to the first team. Ohio, North Carolina, and Maryland also differed.
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