Gonzaga lands at No. 1, top seeds are 1-4 in final AP poll

Associated Press

Gonzaga will head into the NCAA Tournament exactly where it ended up in the final AP Top 25: right on top.

In fact, that's where the Bulldogs began the season, too.

It wasn't all smooth sailing for coach Mark Few's team, which dropped as low as fifth after a couple of early losses. But the Bulldogs wound up with 54 of the 61 first-place votes from a national media panel Monday after romping through the West Coast Conference Tournament to land at No. 1 in the final AP Top 25 for the second straight year.

Now, it's a matter of finishing things off. The Bulldogs, who earned the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year, lost to Baylor in last year's national championship game.

Saint Mary's Logan Johnson (0) shoots against Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren (34) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball championship game at the West Coast Conference tournament Tuesday, March 8, 2022, in Las Vegas.

“It's an amazing accomplishment,” Few said. “It's a reward for being good for four months, 4 1/2 months, and this (NCAA) tournament is a reward for being good for three weeks. So I think it's an amazing accomplishment by this group and last year's group, and these No. 1 seeds we've been able to earn is also simply another amazing accomplishment.”

The Bulldogs begin their quest for that elusive national tile on Thursday against Georgia State in Portland, Oregon, where they should have a hefty fan advantage. They would face Boise State or Memphis in the West Region's second round.

“It's a fool's errand to look down the road. There's so many good teams,” Few said. “We just finished a two-game tournament and that's what this is: a two-game tournament. You don't win the first one, you don't get the second one.”

The top four teams in the final AP Top 25 landed on the top four seed lines of the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona, which got the other seven first-place votes to finish second, will open against the play-in winner between Wright State and Bryant in the South Region. The Wildcats were followed by at No. 3 by Kansas, the top team in the Midwest, and Big 12 rival Baylor, which landed on the top seed line in the East Region.

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The Jayhawks play the Texas Southern-Texas A&M Corpus Christi winner while the Bears open against Norfolk State.

The biggest departure between the bracket and the final poll came with SEC Tournament champ Tennessee, which landed at fifth in the AP Top 25. The Vols didn't get the same kind of support from the selection committee, earning the third seed in the South Region and a tough potential road through Arizona and No. 2 seed Villanova to reach the Final Four.

“Wherever they put us, we’ll go. Got to be ready to play, and again,” Volunteers coach Rick Barnes said. “Just I’m happy for our guys, and we’ll see what happens going forward. We have a new season starting again. We have to be ready.”

Associated Press Top 25 men's basketball

1. Gonzaga (54), 26-3, 1518 (Last week: 1)

2. Arizona (7), 31-3, 1470 (2)

3. Kansas, 28-6, 1388 (6)

4. Baylor, 26-6, 1286 (3)

5. Tennessee, 26-7, 1235 (9)

6. Villanova, 26-7, 1211 (8)

7. Kentucky, 26-7, 1178 (5)

8. Auburn, 27-5, 1144 (4)

9. Duke, 28-6, 986 (7)

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10. Purdue, 27-7, 958 (9)

11. UCLA, 25-7, 823 (13)

12. Texas Tech, 25-9, 819 (14)

13. Providence, 25-5, 723 (11)

14. Wisconsin, 24-7, 685 (12)

15. Houston, 29-5, 665 (18)

16. Iowa, 26-9, 661 (24)

17. Arkansas, 25-8, 578 (15)

18. Saint Mary's (Cal), 25-7, 508 (17)

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19. Illinois, 22-9, 457 (16)

20. Murray St., 30-2, 425 (19)

21. UConn, 23-9, 353 (20)

22. Southern Cal, 26-7, 170 (21)

23. Boise St., 27-7, 165 (NR)

24. Colorado St., 25-5, 82 (23)

25. Texas, 21-11, 72 (22)

Others receiving votes: Virginia Tech 63, San Diego St. 33, South Dakota St. 33, LSU 25, Loyola Chicago 18, Memphis 18, North Carolina 16, Michigan St. 14, Texas A&M 13, Alabama 9, Ohio St. 7, Creighton 4, Vermont 3, San Francisco 2, Indiana 2, Davidson 2, Seton Hall 1, Longwood 1, Yale 1.