Bulldogs Reach Highest Ranking

Feb. 23, 2004

By JIM O'CONNELL
AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - Gonzaga has made some deep runs in the NCAA tournament and now has its highest AP Top 25 ranking: No. 4. The Bulldogs, whose only losses this season are to Stanford and Saint Joseph's, moved up two spots in The Associated Press men's basketball poll Monday.

Stanford and Saint Joseph's each won two games last week to remain the nation's only unbeaten teams and stayed 1-2 in the poll.

Gonzaga (23-2) was sixth last week, matching its spot for the final two weeks of 2001-02. Wins last week over Portland - the game when John Stockton's jersey was retired and the Bulldogs clinched the West Coast Conference regular season title- and at Tulsa moved the Bulldogs up two places.

"The neat thing is it's the highest we've ever been ranked and to do it at the end of the year makes it a little more special," fifth-year coach Mark Few said. "It matters to the kids. They kind of get excited when teams ahead of them lose. I heard them talking about it getting on the plane Saturday. For me as a coach it's not that big of a deal. I just want to keep winning games."

Gonzaga reached the regional final in 1999, losing to eventual national champion Connecticut, and made it to the round of 16 the next two years.

The topic of Gonzaga's seeding for the tournament arises every March. This year there will be talk of a No. 1 seeding.

"That would be a huge accomplishment for the program because it takes into account your entire body of work over a whole season," Few said. "Through all this run, from a coaching standpoint, you motivate guys that we can do something that's never ever been done before. That gets harder and harder. (A No. 1 seed) is something we can motivate our guys with, an accomplishment no one else has done here."

Stanford (23-0) beat Southern California and UCLA on the road last week to hold the No. 1 spot for a second straight week, while Saint Joseph's (24-0) had wins over Fordham and Temple.

For the second week in a row Stanford had a 64-8 advantage in first-place votes from the national media panel, but the Hawks closed the point gap slightly, from 70 to 59.

Pittsburgh (24-2) moved up two spots to third, the Panthers' highest ranking since they were No. 2 for two weeks last season.

Duke, which snapped a two-game losing streak with a win over Maryland on Sunday, dropped from third to fifth and was followed by Oklahoma State, Mississippi State, Connecticut, Kentucky and Texas.

Wake Forest, which beat Duke and Georgia Tech last week, jumped four spots to No. 11. The Demon Deacons were followed by North Carolina, Providence, North Carolina State, Cincinnati, Southern Illinois, Arizona, Georgia Tech, Memphis and Kansas.

The last five ranked teams were Louisville, Wisconsin, Illinois, Utah State and Texas Tech.

Illinois and Utah State returned to the Top 25 this week, replacing LSU and South Carolina, who fell out from 24th and 25th.

The Fighting Illini (18-5) fell out of the poll for five weeks after being ranked all season and getting as high as No. 11. They re-entered on a six-game winning streak, including victories last week over Wisconsin and Penn State.

Utah State (22-2) made its first poll appearance since 1971 three weeks ago, but fell out last week after losing at Pacific. The Aggies are back in following wins over UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton.

LSU (17-6) moved into the Top 25 last week for the first time this season, but playing without injured leading scorer and rebounder Jamie Lloreda the Tigers lost to Auburn and Vanderbilt.

South Carolina (20-6) was ranked for the last five weeks, never getting higher than 24th. The Gamecocks lost to Arkansas in their only game last week.

The loss of LSU and South Carolina cut the Southeastern Conference's number of ranked teams in half with Mississippi State and Kentucky the only league members still in the Top 25.

Louisville and Wisconsin joined LSU as ranked teams to lose two games last week, and both took a big fall in the poll.

Louisville (17-6) has lost five of its last six games, including last week's losses to Texas Christian and Cincinnati. The Cardinals, who were ranked No. 4 last month, fell 11 places to No. 21.

Wisconsin (17-6) lost consecutive games for the first time in 13 months. The road losses to Illinois and Michigan saw the Badgers fall from No. 12 to 22nd.

North Carolina State plays two games this week against ranked teams. The 14th-ranked Wolfpack play at No. 18 Georgia Tech on Wednesday and host No. 12 North Carolina on Sunday.

Associated Press Top 25

The top 25 teams in The Associated Press' men's college basketball poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Feb. 22, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote and previous ranking:<

                         Record  Pts   Pvs
 1. Stanford (64)        23-0   1,791   1
 2. Saint Joseph's (8)   24-0   1,732   2
 3. Pittsburgh           24-2   1,593   5
 4. Gonzaga              23-2   1,536   6
 5. Duke                 22-3   1,507   3
 6. Oklahoma St.         21-2   1,499   7
 7. Mississippi St.      21-2   1,353   4
 8. Connecticut          21-5   1,299   8
 9. Kentucky             19-4   1,240   9
10. Texas                19-4   1,140  11
11. Wake Forest          17-6   1,007  15
12. North Carolina       16-7     785  16
13. Providence           18-5     745  19
14. N.C. State           17-6     716  13
15. Cincinnati           18-5     643  17
16. S. Illinois          22-2     620  20
17. Arizona              17-7     587  14
18. Georgia Tech         19-7     566  18
19. Memphis              19-4     540  23
20. Kansas               17-6     474  21
21. Louisville           17-6     450  10
22. Wisconsin            17-6     445  12
23. Illinois             18-5     283   -
24. Utah St.             22-2     141   -
25. Texas Tech           19-7     111  22

Others receiving votes: Syracuse 80, Charlotte 78, Kent St. 76, Michigan St. 68, Air Force 55, W. Michigan 45, South Carolina 39, LSU 28, Seton Hall 20, Dayton 15, Vanderbilt 15, ETSU 12, Manhattan 12, Boston U. 10, Florida 10, UAB 10, Oklahoma 8, Nevada 5, UTEP 5, Utah 3, Boston College 2, George Washington 1.

 

 

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