Gonzaga entered the weekend having already played two teams ranked in the top five of the preseason Associated Press Top 25 poll. Both games were blowouts. So there wasn't much reason to think Saturday night's showdown with Duke would go much differently.
It did, though.
Final score: Duke 84, Gonzaga 81.
Believe it or not, the Zags just lost a regular-season game for the first time in more than 16 months despite closing as a 9-point favorite. Five-star freshman Paolo Banchero finished with 21 points, five rebounds and two assists for the Blue Devils despite battling cramps in the second half.
"It was just a really big-time game," said Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski. "What a crowd. We thought it might be a showcase game — and it was. But having this type of crowd was amazing. Obviously, we feel great about the win -- and we think we beat an outstanding basketball team."
The neutral-court win inside T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas improved Duke to 7-0 with victories over Gonzaga and Kentucky, making the Blue Devils the only team in the nation with a zero in the loss column and two wins over top-10 KenPom opponents. That's why Duke has been elevated to No. 1 in Saturday morning's updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings. The only other sensible option for No. 1 right now is Purdue. But the Boilermakers' 6-0 record (that's highlighted by a win over Villanova) features just one win over a top-10 KenPom team as opposed to Duke's two wins over top-10 KenPom teams.
Advantage: Blue Devils
If you're a regular listener of the Eye On College Basketball Podcast, you know I've been saying for months that Krzyzewski's final season ending with what would be his sixth national championship in New Orleans isn't really far-fetched. Some took issue with that statement (if only because somebody is always eager to take issue with any statement). But 18 days into this season, it's now obviously undeniable. Duke has a nice mix of legitimate NBA talent and experienced complimentary pieces, not unlike the 2015 team that won Krzyzewski's fifth national championship. That's what helped the Blue Devils upset Gonzaga on the last Saturday in November. And if Coach K finds himself still working on the first Monday in April, that combination will likely be the reason.
Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Paolo Banchero finished with 21 points and five rebounds in Friday's 84-81 win over Gonzaga. The Blue Devils' next game is Tuesday against Ohio State.||6||14-3|
|Gonzaga finished with nine more turnovers than Duke in Friday's 84-81 loss to the Blue Devils. The Zags' next game is Monday against Tarleton State.||1||14-2|
|Zach Edey finished with 20 points and six rebounds in Friday's 97-40 win over Omaha. The Boilermakers' next game is Tuesday against Florida State.||--||15-2|
|UCLA shot just 34.8% from the field in Tuesday's 83-63 loss to Gonzaga. The Bruins' next game is Saturday against UNLV.||--||11-2|
|Villanova allowed Purdue to shoot 52.7% from the field in Sunday's 80-74 loss to the Boilermakers. The Wildcats' next game is Sunday against La Salle.||--||13-4|
|James Akinjo finished with 15 points, five assists and three steals in Friday's 75-58 win over Michigan State. The Bears' next game is next Saturday against Arkansas Pine Bluff.||3||16-2|
|Timmy Allen finished with 15 points and eight rebounds in Wednesday's 68-44 win over Cal Baptist. The Longhorns' next game is Monday against Sam Houston State.||1||13-5|
|Au'Diese Toney finished with 19 points and nine rebounds in Tuesday's 73-67 win over Cincinnati. The Razorbacks' next game is Sunday against Penn.||2||13-5|
|Oscar Tshiebwe finished with 12 points and 16 rebounds in Friday's 86-52 win over North Florida. The Wildcats' next game is Monday against Central Michigan.||2||14-3|
|Te'Jon Lucas finished with 18 points and seven assists in Wednesday's 81-64 win over Texas Southern. The Cougars' next game is Saturday at Utah.||2||15-4|
|Christian Koloko finished with 22 points and seven rebounds in Sunday's 80-62 win over Michigan. The Wildcats' next game is Saturday against Sacramento State.||2||14-1|
|Kennedy Chandler finished with 15 points and five steals in Friday's 80-69 win over Tennessee Tech. The Vols' next game is Tuesday against Presbyterian.||5||12-5|
|Kansas allowed Dayton to shoot 52.7% from the field in Friday's 74-73 loss to the Flyers. The Jayhawks' next game is Sunday against Iona.||11||15-2|
|Michigan State finished with nine assists and 19 turnovers in Friday's 75-58 loss to Baylor. The Spartans' next game is Wednesday against Louisville.||--||14-3|
|Isaiah Whaley finished with 16 points and four rebounds in Friday's 70-63 win over VCU. The Huskies' next game is Tuesday against Maryland Eastern Shore.||--||12-4|
|Jabari Smith finished with 22 points and six rebounds in Friday's 89-68 win over Syracuse. The Tigers' next game is Wednesday against UCF.||--||16-1|
|Jaren Holmes finished with 19 points and 13 rebounds in Sunday's 70-54 win over Marquette. The Bonnies' next game is Saturday against Northern Iowa.||1||10-4|
|Drew Peterson finished with 16 points and six rebounds in Friday's 58-43 win over San Diego State. The Trojans' next game is Wednesday against Utah.||3||14-2|
|Fabian White Jr. finished with 15 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 78-48 win over Oregon. The Cougars' next game is Tuesday against Northwestern State.||--||16-2|
|Phlandrous Fleming Jr. got 19 points off the bench in Wednesday's 71-68 win over Ohio State. The Gators' next game is Sunday against Troy.||2||10-6|
|Gabe Kalscheur finished with 30 points and eight rebounds in Friday's 78-59 win over Memphis. The Cyclones' next game is Wednesday against Arkansas Pine Bluff.||NR||14-4|
|Memphis finished with eight assists and 22 turnovers in Friday's 78-59 loss to Iowa State. The Tigers' next game is Wednesday at Georgia.||16||9-7|
|Jahvon Quinerly finished with 18 points and four assists in Friday's 80-71 win over Drake. The Crimson Tide's next game is Sunday against Miami.||1||11-6|
|Ohio State allowed Florida to grab 16 offensive rebounds in Wednesday's 71-68 loss to the Gators. The Buckeyes' next game is Tuesday against Duke.||1||12-4|
|Jared Rhoden finished with 21 points and seven rebounds in Wednesday's 62-59 over Cal. The Pirates' next game is Sunday against Bethune Cookman.||1||11-5|
|Xavier Pinson finished with 15 points and three assists in Friday's 68-63 overtime win over Penn State. The Tigers' next game is Saturday against Wake Forest.||NR||15-2|