Gonzaga drops to No. 8 in AP poll following second straight loss

Jim Meehan

The Spokesman-Review

Gonzaga dropped four spots to No. 8 in the AP men’s college basketball poll after falling to North Carolina on Saturday.

The Zags’ loss created some minor reshuffling in the top 10. Kansas, Duke and Tennessee held firm in the first three spots. Michigan moved into the fourth spot occupied by Gonzaga last week, followed by Virginia, Nevada and Auburn.

North Carolina jumped up three spots to ninth, just behind the Zags (9-2). Michigan State rounded out the top 10.

Gonzaga had a two-week run at No. 1 prior to suffering its first loss against Tennessee in Phoenix on Dec. 9.

Kansas remains entrenched atop the rankings with 56 of 65 first-place votes. Duke, Tennessee, Michigan and Virginia also received first-place votes.

The Zags received 1,147 points, 21 more than North Carolina and nine behind No. 7 Auburn.

Gonzaga is the highest ranked two-loss team, thanks to a string of solid wins — Arizona, then-No. 1 Duke, Creighton, Washington — and a non-conference schedule that ranks No. 8, according to KenPom.com.

The Zags’ strength of schedule will drop because they’ve completed the toughest portion of their non-conference slate. The Zags entertain UT Arlington on Tuesday, followed by Denver, North Alabama and Cal State Bakersfield before beginning WCC play against Santa Clara on Jan. 5.

Gonzaga slipped from sixth to ninth in the USA Today poll. The Zags received 497 points, just four ahead of No. 10 North Carolina. The coaches’ top five remained the same with Kansas, Duke, Virginia, Tennessee and Michigan.

Marquee matchups this week include No. 2 Duke vs. No. 12 Texas Tech on Thursday and No. 9 North Carolina vs. No. 19 Kentucky on Saturday.

The top 25 features eight unbeatens: No. 1 Kansas (9-0), No. 4 Michigan (11-0), No. 5 Virginia (9-0), No. 6 Nevada (11-0), No. 12 Texas Tech (10-0), No. 14 Buffalo (10-0), No. 21 Houston (10-0) and No. 24 Furman (12-0).

The ACC has three teams in the AP top nine. The SEC has two in the top seven and the Big Ten has two in the top 10. Arizona State, at No. 18, is the Pac-12’s only ranked team.

Defending national champion Villanova fell out of the Top 25 after a near upset of Kansas and a loss to Penn.

San Francisco of the WCC is in the receiving votes category with two points. The Dons are 10-1.