College basketball rankings are out for Week 16, with the Gonzaga Bulldogs ranked No. 1 in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches Poll. Gonzaga is now 28-0 on the season, continuing an undefeated season that has fans in Spokane longing for a spot in the Final Four. Not all of the Associated Press writers or college basketball coaches feel that Gonzaga should be ranked No. 1 though.
In the Week 16 college basketball rankings, 57 writers voted for Gonzaga, five voted for Villanova, and one voted for Kansas to be the top team in the AP Top 25. In the USA Today Coaches Poll, 29 coaches sided with Gonzaga and the remaining three coaches went with Villanova. These results have left a lot of Gonzaga fans wondering what the team has to do to become a unanimous No. 1 in the regular season rankings.
So who was it that gave Kansas its only first-place vote in the Week 16 AP Top 25? In the most shocking vote of the week, Jon Nyatawa of the Omaha World-Herald had Kansas first, Villanova second, Gonzaga third, and North Carolina fourth. Not only did he knock the undefeated Bulldogs out of the top slot, he bumped them all the way down to No. 3 in his vote. Nyatawa seems to have rewarded Kansas for beating Baylor and West Virginia during the previous week, as both schools had been ranked in the top 10.
On the Kansas resume this season, in addition to victories over No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Baylor, No. 4 Baylor, No. 4 Kentucky, and No. 9 West Virginia, are losses to No. 11 Indiana, No. 18 West Virginia, and unranked Iowa State. Those were the ranks for each school when the teams played. ISU is 17-9 on the season, though, possibly putting the team in a good enough position to make the NCAA Tournament. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the school ranked before the NCAA Tournament brackets are revealed.
In addition to a high number of wins against top 10 teams, Kansas is also ranked No. 5 in SOS (strength of schedule). This could be another reason why Nyatawa gave them a first-place vote. The Kansas Jayhawks are ranked No. 1 in the latest RPI rankings as well, suggesting that the team is well on its way to being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The RPI and SOS could be used by the NCAA Selection Committee to differentiate between the top teams and decide which school deserves to be the overall top seed.
Five Associated Press voters went with Villanova as the top team in the Week 16 AP Top 25. Graham Couch of the Lansing State Journal ranked Villanova first, Gonzaga second, Lousiville third, and Kansas fourth. Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News went a little differently, ranking Villanova first, Gonzaga second, Kansas third, and Oregon fourth. Seth Davis of Sports Illustrated also presented a slightly different top four, going with Villanova first, Gonzaga second, Kansas third, and Louisville fourth.
Soren Petro of Sports Radio 810 WHB ranked Villanova first, Gonzaga second, Kansas third, and UCLA fourth. Joe Juliano of the Philadelphia Inquirer liked a different Pac-12 school, ranking Villanova first, Gonzaga second, Kansas third, and Arizona fourth. Then there was J.P. Butler, Joe Leadingham, John McNamara, Jon Wilner, Matt Velazquez, and Patrick Murray who had Gonzaga first, Kansas second, and Villanova third on their respective ballots.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs have just two regular season games left on the schedule to make it to 30-0 on the season. Those games come against San Diego (12-16) and BYU (19-10) this week. Then it’s on to the West Coast Conference Tournament, where Gonzaga will have a first-round bye and a predicted championship game against Saint Mary’s (24-3). Beating San Diego and BYU likely won’t help Gonzaga much in the Week 17 college basketball rankings, but a 30-0 record should still impress the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee.
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