Gonzaga was ranked No. 1 in the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time in school history earlier this month. And when the Zags opened the season Thursday, they undeniably looked like they deserve the number next to their name.
Final score: Gonzaga 102, Kansas 90.
The Zags shot 64.5% from the field against Kansas despite missing 12 of the 18 3-pointers they attempted. Put another way, the Zags shot 77.3% inside the arc and finished with 62 points in the paint. It was, in a variety of ways, an absolutely impressive performance that doubled as the 600th victory of Mark Few’s head-coaching career.
Yep, Gonzaga’s coach now has 600 victories just one game into his 22nd season. It’s incredible and the byproduct of Few averaging 28.5 wins per season while literally never missing the NCAA Tournament and building one of the very best programs — not just on the west coast or outside of a power conference, but one of the very best programs — in the entire sport. And yet I still got an email Thursday morning from a man named Mike who wanted to know why I have Gonzaga No. 1 in the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings because, in his mind, Gonzaga is always overrated.
It’s actually crazy, not to mention disrespectful to Few’s program, that people still use the words “Gonzaga” and “overrated” in the same sentence because those two words so clearly don’t belong in the same sentence. I wrote a column explaining why in February 2017. Since that column published, the Zags have been to three straight Sweet 16s, two Elite Eights and the title game of the 2017 NCAA Tournament. Beyond that, Gonzaga’s average ranking in the preseason AP poll in the previous four years was No. 11 while Gonzaga’s average final KenPom ranking in the previous four years was No. 4. So, if anything, people have been underrating the Zags even though they own victories over programs such as Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, Florida, Ohio State, Texas, Oregon, Creighton, Baylor, Florida State, Tennessee, Xavier, West Virginia, Iowa State and Washington since the start of the 2016-17 season.
But, sure, keep calling them overrated, if you want.
It sounds silly and uninformed.
But, absolutely, you can still do it, if you want.
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Top 25 And 1 rankings
Jalen Suggs finished with 24 points and eight assists in Thursday’s 102-90 victory over Kansas. Drew Timme added 25 points and six rebounds.
The Bears are returning the top three scorers from a team that would’ve been a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It’s among the reasons Scott Drew has an opportunity to guide Baylor to its first Final Four since Bill Henderson did it in 1950.
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl finished with 28 points and 11 rebounds in Thursday’s 83-74 victory over Arizona State. Justin Moore added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Sam Hauser finished with 19 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday’s 89-54 victory over Towson. The Cavaliers made 15 of the 29 3-pointers they attempted.
Luka Garza finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s 97-67 victory over North Carolina Central. Patrick McCaffery added 16 points off the bench.
Ayo Dosunmu finished with 22 points, seven assists and six rebounds in Thursday’s 97-38 victory over Chicago State. The Illni have won their first two games by an average of 60.5 points.
The Jayhawks recorded 15 turnovers and just 10 assists in Thursday’s 102-90 loss to Gonzaga. They allowed the Zags to shoot 64.5% from the field.
The return of Matthew Hurt and Wendell Moore gives Mike Krzyzewski two experienced and reliable pieces to pair with a top-three recruiting class highlighted by five-star prospects Jalen Johnson, Jeremy Roach, DJ Steward and Mark Williams. So Coach K winning a sixth national title remains very much in the cards.
Four of the five starters from a team that was the No. 1 seed in the Big East Tournament are back – most notably Marcus Zegarowski, a CBS Sports First Team Preseason All-American. It’s a core that should give Creighton a realistic chance to make its first Final Four in school history.
Nate Reuvers finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and five blocks in Wednesday’s 77-67 victory over Eastern Illinois. The Badgers recorded 16 assists while turning the ball over just seven times.
Foster Loyer made six 3-pointers and finished with 20 points in Wednesday’s 83-67 victory over Eastern Michigan. Joey Hauser added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Tennessee is adding five-star guards Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson to a proven core of John Fulkerson and Yves Pons. It’s an experienced and talented roster that most believe will result in a nice bounce-back season for Rick Barnes’ Vols.
B.J. Boston finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday’s 81-45 victory over Morehead State. Terrence Clarke added 12 points, four rebounds and four assists.
Derek Culver finished with 23 points and 15 rebounds in Thursday’s 78-66 victory over VCU. West Virginia will play Western Kentucky in the title game of the Crossover Classic on Friday.
Marcus Sasser made seven of the nine 3-pointers he attempted and finished with 25 points in Wednesday’s 89-45 victory over Lamar. Tramon Mark added 22 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Mac McClung finished with 20 points, three assists and three steals in Wednesday’s 101-58 victory over Northwestern State. Marcus Santos-Silva added 10 points and 12 rebounds.
Caleb Love made all eight of his free throw attempts and finished with 17 points, four assists and two steals in Wednesday’s 79-60 victory over Charleston. Day’Ron Sharpe added 13 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Justice Sueing finished with 19 points, eight rebounds and three steals in Wednesday’s 94-67 victory over Illinois State. CJ Walker added 10 points and six assists.
Courtney Ramey finished with 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds in Wednesday’s 91-55 victory over UT Rio Grande Valley. Greg Brown added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Two of the best three scorers from the Pac-12 champs are returning – among them former JUCO National Player of the Year Chris Duarte. If the Ducks get a waiver for St. John’s transfer LJ Figueroa, they’ll be even stronger and clearly talented enough to win back-to-back league titles.
Ron Harper Jr. got 18 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s 86-63 victory over Sacred Heart. Cliff Omoruyi added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Trayce Jackson-Davis finished with 26 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s 89-59 victory over Tennessee Tech. Trey Galloway added 13 points off the bench.
Cameron Thomas made four 3-pointers and finished with 27 points in Thursday’s 94-81victory over SIU-Edwardsville. Trendon Watford added 13 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.
Remy Martin took eight shots but only made two of them in Thursday’s 83-74 loss to Villanova. The Sun Devils finished with nine turnovers and only eight assists.
The Seminoles lost three of the top four scorers from a team that won the ACC. But the arrival of Scottie Barnes will give Leonard Hamilton a chance to finish in the top four of the league for the fourth time in a five-year span.
Isaiah Livers finished with 17 points and nine rebounds in Wednesday’s 96-82 victory over Bowling Green. Hunter Dickinson added 11 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
In: Michigan | Out: Memphis