Skip to content

Gonzaga deserves No. 1 ranking, but not necessarily a No. 1 seed

Mar 4, 2013, 12:55 PM EDT

Kelly Olynyk AP

It’s official: for the first time in school history, Gonzaga is the No. 1 team in the country.

51 of the 65 voters in the AP Poll put them there. So did 29 of the 31 voters in the Coaches Poll.

(CLICK HERE: To see both the AP and the Coaches top 25)

Does this mean that Gonzaga is the best team in the country? Of course not. If there’s anything that we have learned this season, it’s that there really isn’t any single ‘best’ team. Indiana and Kansas and Duke and every other team in the top eight or nine right now is just as good as the Zags. Maybe better.

But as of today, that doesn’t matter.

Because the way the polls work, if you lose, you drop. If you continue to win, you move up. It doesn’t matter whether or not those wins are coming against Portland while those losses are coming of the road to Virginia or Maryland. That’s part of the reason that, thankfully, top 25 rankings play absolutely no role in determining anything in our sport beyond what the little number is that shows up next to a team’s name during broadcasts.

Here’s the bottom-line: Gonzaga has as much of a right to the No. 1 ranking as anyone in the country right now, regardless of conference affiliation. They beat West Virginia by 34. They beat Oklahoma by 25 in the Old Spice Classic. They beat Kansas State — who just so happens to be in the top 10 — by 16. They beat Baylor by seven. They went into Stillwater and knocked off Oklahoma State. In other words, the Zags would be battling Kansas for Big 12 superiority if they were located in Shawnee, KS, instead of Spokane, WA.

Let’s take it a step further: Gonzaga’s two losses this season came when Brandon Paul lit them up for 36 points and when Roosevelt Jones made one of the most exciting and fluky plays of the season.

There shouldn’t be any doubt that Gonzaga belongs in the conversation among the other national title contenders.

But what’s intriguing about this team is that, even if they win the WCC tournament next week, there’s a chance that they could end up falling off the No. 1 seed line in the NCAA tournament.

Only twice since 2000 has a No. 1 seed had a strength of schedule that was lower than Gonzaga’s, which is currently 71st in the country. Both times it was Stanford, who had a schedule strength of 96th in 2004 and 82nd in 2000. There have only been three times where a No. 1 seed has come from outside the Power Six conferences, and all three times — Memphis in 2008, St. Joe’s in 2004, and Cincinnati (then of Conference USA) in 2002 — had schedule strengths in the top 50.

(USA Today’s Eric Prisbell did the legwork researching those numbers.)

This isn’t entirely Gonzaga’s fault, mind you. West Virginia was predicted to be a top 25 team and Baylor was thought to have a chance to crack the top 15. Washington State wasn’t expected to finish at the bottom of the Pac-12, and it just so happens that BYU and St. Mary’s are both a bit down this season. It happens to everyone, I know, but when you play in a mid-major conference and seven of your top ten opponents are worse than expected, it’s going to sting.

There’s only so much that the Zags are able to do, and in my mind, they’ve done enough to be ranked No. 1.

Because it’s irrelevant.

What matters is where they are seeded, and whether or not they deserve a No. 1 seed is a different post for a different day.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

 

Latest Posts
  1. Four-star 2016 combo guard cuts list to four

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:45 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    St. John’s remains under consideration for the Brooklyn native.

  2. 2018 power forward Jontay Porter commits to Washington

    Aug 2, 2015, 6:37 PM EDT

    Lorenzo Romar AP

    He’s the younger brother of five-star 2017 forward Michael Porter Jr., and Michael Sr. considered joining the Washington staff this spring.

  3. UTEP adds four-star forward Brodricks Jones, former San Diego State commit

    Aug 2, 2015, 5:10 PM EDT

    Tim Floyd AP

    With Vince Hunter in the professional ranks and Matt Willms dealing with a foot issue, this is an important pickup for the Miners.

  4. Report: Two official visits set for five-star Class of 2016 shooting guard

    Aug 2, 2015, 4:00 PM EDT

    markelle fultz

    Markelle Fultz will take two official visits once he leaves adidas Nations.

  5. POSTERIZED: Wenyen Gabriel dunks on defender at adidas Nations

    Aug 2, 2015, 2:45 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    Wenyen Gabriel’s tremendous summer only got better with this off-handed throw down on a defender.

  6. Xavier gets commitment from four-star guard

    Aug 2, 2015, 1:45 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Xavier added another piece in the 2016 class with a guard commitment.

  7. N.C. State secures commitment from four-star 2015 wing

    Aug 2, 2015, 12:33 PM EDT

    Mark Gottfried (AP Photo) Mark Gottfried (AP Photo)

    N.C. State added a dynamic wing scorer late in their 2015 recruiting efforts on Sunday as reclassified 6-foot-7 wing Maverick Rowan committed to the Wolfpack. A three-level scorer, Rowan was previously committed to Pitt and later backed off of his pledge to the Panthers before deciding to move up a grade by taking two summer…

  8. Texas A&M finishes 2015 recruiting efforts with late guard commitment

    Aug 2, 2015, 11:45 AM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Texas A&M finished off a tremendous 2015 recruiting class with one more combo guard.

  9. 2017 power forward/center verbally commits to Arkansas

    Aug 2, 2015, 10:15 AM EDT

    Mike Anderson AP

    After a rough July that included suspensions and a recruit heading to prep school, Arkansas received some good news on the first day of August.

  10. Three-star shooting guard becomes Wake Forest’s second 2016 commitment

    Aug 2, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Danny Manning AP

    Brandon Childress, son of Wake Forest great Randolph Childress, was the first commit in the class for the Demon Deacons.

  11. Former Weber State, D-League assistant Phil Beckner joins Nebraska coaching staff

    Aug 1, 2015, 9:15 PM EDT

    Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics Robert Casey/Weber State Athletics

    Praised for his ability as both a coach and recruiter, Beckner also helped develop Damian Lillard into a lottery pick.

  12. Three-star power forward trims list to five

    Aug 1, 2015, 7:59 PM EDT

    Rivals.com Rivals.com

    Childs played well with the Utah Prospects in Las Vegas during the final evaluation period.

  13. Five-star shooting guard focusing on ten schools

    Aug 1, 2015, 6:39 PM EDT

    Adidas Eurocamp 2015 - Day One Getty Images

    Indiana, Kentucky and St. John’s are among the ten, as many expected.

  14. Semifinal matchups for Continental Tire Las Vegas Classic announced

    Aug 1, 2015, 5:27 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    SMU will be the headliner for this event, with the semifinals scheduled for December 22 and the third place and title games the following night.

  15. Wichita State lands transfer guard from Texas A&M

    Aug 1, 2015, 3:20 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Former Texas A&M guard Peyton Allen is now a Shocker.

  16. Iowa sophomore forward shows improvement in summer league

    Aug 1, 2015, 1:30 PM EDT

    (Brian Ray/Hawkeyesports.com) (Brian Ray/Hawkeyesports.com)

    Iowa is hoping for improvement from a sophomore forward who showed promise this summer.

  17. adidas Nations releases list of college counselors

    Aug 1, 2015, 10:00 AM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    There will be 39 college counselors playing at adidas Nations this weekend.

  18. Isaac Humphries is Kentucky’s insurance policy inside, but should that be concerning?

    Aug 1, 2015, 8:52 AM EDT

    FIBA FIBA

    Is this an addition for depth, or should Kentucky be concerned about another center?