For the very first time in program history, the Gonzaga Bulldogs will be the No. 1 ranked team in the Associated Press Poll as we begin the 2020-21 college basketball season. A program that gained national acclaim in the NCAA Tournament as an unheralded underdog program, has ridden the Sweet 16 magic it has created with coach Mark Few to the top of the basketball world. The “ZAGS” have finally earned their rightful place among the elite in college basketball.
Since 1992 — Fews’ first year as a full-time assistant coach with the Bulldogs — Gonzaga has posted an 800-201 record for a .799 winning percentage.
This program has been on the rise since their surprise run to the Elite 8 in the 1999 NCAA Tournament when they were led by the likes of Richie Frahm, Matt Santangelo, and Casey Calvary. They lost to eventual champion UCONN (67-62) who were led by future NBA players Richard Hamilton and Khalid El- Amin.
In actuality, there was never any doubt that Gonzaga would claim one of the top two spots in the initial “AP Poll” along with the Baylor Bears who return their entire core from last year’s team which was ranked No. 1 before a home loss to Kansas but still finished 5th in a season cut short by the COVID pandemic.
The Bulldogs return a very talented and deep roster. This despite losing 2019 (WCC Player Of The Year) Filip Petrusev. who left to play professionally in Serbia. The Serbian star played high school ball at Montverde Academy and was one of the most coveted centers in the country during his recruitment. Even without him, the voters feel Gonzaga can still do damage.
The Zags with 1541 points (28 First Place Votes) placed just a single point ahead of the Bears 1540 points (24 First Place Votes).
Thanks to some aggressive non-conference scheduling, college hoops fans will be treated to a face-off between the two powerhouses in Indianapolis on December 5th. The Baylor matchup is nowhere near their only juicy scheduled marquee matchup as they face a total of 4 teams in the Top-12 to launch the season.
They’ll face Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee as well, so the Zags will be battle-tested early and the No. 1 ranking is as delicate as a bridge built with cards. Bruce Pearl’s Auburn squad will be a formidable test as well.
This should hush the “Gonzaga Doesn’t Play Anyone” naysayers.
Their most famous is NBA Hall Of Famer John Stockton.
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