Who is the best team in college basketball, and who should be the No. 1 team in college basketball?

Those are two different discussions that often conflate to one debate. And it seems it might be where we are now, and where the conversation will go over the next 48 hours. On Saturday, three of the best teams in the sport all won games of varying difficulty and genre, but nonetheless, a dialogue is emerging. 

Who is worthy to hold No. 1? The way I see it, three teams have good -- if not slightly flawed -- cases. That's what makes it interesting and compelling. All three teams are easy picks for a No. 1 seed at this juncture as well. So do the Bulldogs, Blue Devils or Bears belong atop the mountain? 

Read the case files below and decide for yourself. At the very least, it's refreshing to see viable candidates evolve to this point after so much racket and rubble atop the polls in November and December. 

We'll take these teams in order of how they were ranked in this week's AP Top 25 poll: No. 1 Gonzaga, No. 2 Duke, No. 4 Baylor

The case for Gonzaga ...

The Zags have held the No. 1 ranking the past three weeks, which is longer than any other team in the polls this season. Mark Few's club is 18-1 -- its 18 wins the most in the sport alongside 18-1 Liberty. The Zags' only loss came on a neutral court to respectable Michigan in November. Each of the three teams discussed here have just one loss; Gonzaga's rates, no matter the metric, as the strongest of those losses based on pure result alone. At 87.8 points per game, Gonzaga is the highest-scoring team in college basketball.

NCAA Basketball: Pepperdine at Gonzaga
Killian Tillie, Corey Kispert and the Zags are likely to keep the No. 1 ranking until they lose. USATSI

Gonzaga owns a 3-1 record vs. Quad 1 teams and has won eight games away from home, which is one more than Duke and two more than Baylor. Road wins include victories against potential NCAA Tournament teams Arizona and Washington. It also has a win against the best team in the Pac-12, Oregon. (North Carolina, unexpectedly, is doing zilch for GU's profile.) Gonzaga's offense rates No. 2 at KenPom, scoring an adjusted 116.3 points per 100 possessions, behind only Michigan State. Since the Zags have the No. 1 AP ranking, overwhelming historical evidence suggests that until they lose, they will not unfetter their status in the polls. 

The case for Duke ...

The No. 1 team in the sport according to KenPom, Sagarin, BPI and KPI. That's four of the six metrics the NCAA Tournament selection committee references, not including the NET and Strength of Record. (Duke is No. 2 in Strength of Record, behind only San Diego State.) Duke is also No. 1 in the all-encompassing Massey Composite

Tre Jones and Duke rate No. 1 in the majority of predictive-based metrics.  USATASI

The Blue Devils have played the fewest Quad 4 games (read: automatic wins) of the three teams (it's played three; Baylor's played four and Gonzaga's played eight). Duke is a combined 7-0 in road/neutral games, the best winning percentage of the three. Its overall strength of schedule ranks 48th, whereas Baylor's is 54th and Gonzaga -- subject to be brought down by its league -- is 241st, per KenPom. The Blue Devils are the only team to have a top-10 offensive and defensive rating at KenPom ... and Duke ranks in the top five in both (third in offense, fourth in defense). Duke's averaging scoring margin of 21.5 is No. 1 in college hoops -- a full point ahead of No. 2 Gonzaga (20.5). Duke would be the indisputable winner if not for having the worst loss of the three by far: the home defeat in OT against Stephen F. Austin.

The case for Baylor ...

The 13-1 Bears carry a convincing case for the best resumé in the sport. Their five Quad 1 wins are as many as anybody else has coming out of this weekend and Baylor is the new No. 1 in the NET rankings, just ahead of No. 2 Duke. Baylor's 5-0 this season against ranked teams, which has never happened in program history. It's got the longest win streak of the three teams under debate here, having won 12 straight. Its lone loss is also all-around the most reasonable: a three-point defeat in Alaska against a Washington (11-5) team at full strength. Baylor also owns a win over the only other team not under debate here but who certainly has a case: 15-1 Butler. (The only reason Butler isn't on this list is due to its head-to-head loss to Baylor, really.) 

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at Kansas
Bears guard MaCio Teague helped pace BU to a historic program win at KU. USATSI

The Bears finished Saturday with five wins over top-25 KenPom teams: Villanova, Arizona, Butler, Texas Tech and Kansas -- all teams currently ranked. The 67-55 road win at Kansas is one of the five most impressive victories by any team in the sport this season. For its part, Baylor rates ahead of Gonzaga but behind Duke in every mainstream predictive metric and in the NET. And given its respectable loss and fistful of headline-making wins, the case has never been stronger in program history for BU to be No. 1.

My vote: Taking all the data into account, if I had a ballot for the AP poll, I would put Duke at No. 1, Baylor at No. 2, Gonzaga at No. 3. It's really close. But at this point I think Duke has the overall resumé plus the hefty metrics to validate dethroning Gonzaga atop the rankings. But there is no wrong answer, and I look forward to seeing how each of these teams tries to maintain its top-shelf status as January moves into February.