I've been ranking college basketball teams for more than 15 years, and one thing I decided a long time ago is that I would not drop a school from No. 1 unless that school loses. I've literally only made an exception to the rule once -- specifically after Duke beat Kentucky, 118-84, in the opener two seasons ago. Even then, I was conflicted about it. But I ultimately decided it just would've been silly to wake up the morning after that destruction and have anybody but Zion Williamson's Blue Devils atop the CBS Sports Top 25 And 1. So I dropped undefeated Kansas from No. 1 to No. 2, and moved Duke directly to the top.
I bring this up because, nearly every day now, somebody asks if I'll ever move Baylor ahead of Gonzaga. It's a totally reasonable question -- especially after the Bears improved to 17-0 via Tuesday night's 83-69 victory at Texas. But my official answer is this: No, I will not move Baylor ahead of Gonzaga unless, of course, the Zags lose before the Bears. In other words, as long as Gonzaga keeps a zero in the loss column, Gonzaga will hold the top spot in the Top 25 And 1.
It's not a slight of Baylor.
The Bears are undeniably awesome. They're 6-0 in Quadrant 1, 2-0 in Quadrant 2, 3-0 in Quadrant 3 and 6-0 in Quadrant 4. They've won 15 of their 17 games by double-digits. They've won every game by at least eight points. They're No. 3 in offensive efficiency. They're No. 3 in defensive efficiency. They're shooting a nation's best 43.9% from 3-point range. They're now No. 1 in the NET, KenPom and BPI.
Trust me, I know all the numbers.
It's easy to make a case for Baylor to be No. 1.
It's just that, from my perspective, dropping Gonzaga from No. 1 would be to punish the Zags for their league affiliation -- and I don't want to do that. It's not their fault that the West Coast Conference doesn't offer as many challenges as the Big 12. All they can do is schedule aggressively outside of the conference and then play the teams placed in front of them once league games start. And that's precisely what they've done. They started 7-0 with double-digit victories over Iowa, Virginia and Kansas. Now they're 17-0 thanks to an 8-0 league mark that features eight double-digit wins. They've won their conference games by an average of 25.4 points. So it's not like Gonzaga hasn't proven itself against the best and killed everybody else. Gonzaga just hasn't had the same number of opportunities as Baylor recently to add signature wins. As a result, Baylor's resume is now probably superior to Gonzaga's. I acknowledge as much. And though that might ultimately be the thing that leads to the Zags failing to get the No. 1 overall seed in next month's NCAA Tournament, it will not be a thing that cost them in the Top 25 And 1.
(Think of it this way: If you put undefeated Alabama Football in the equivalent of the WCC, some teams from better conferences would definitely end up with better resumes based on the fact that they had more great opportunities. But that wouldn't necessarily mean Alabama Football wasn't the best team in the country. Now apply that same logic to Gonzaga Basketball.)
Would Gonzaga also be undefeated in the Big 12?
Yes, I think so. But, obviously, there's no way to know for sure. Either way, in my opinion, the Zags have earned the benefit of the doubt. So as long as they keep winning, they'll remain No. 1 here.
Wednesday's Top 25 And 1 rankings
|Gonzaga's perfect record includes double-digit victories over Iowa, Virginia and Kansas. The Zags have won their eight West Coast Conference games by an average of 25.4 points.||--||6-1|
|Baylor's perfect record is highlighted by victories over Texas, Illinois, Texas Tech and Kansas. The Bears have won 15 of their 17 games by double-digits.||--||8-0|
|Villanova is 3-0 with two wins over Seton Hall since returning from a COVID-19 pause. The Wildcats will take a nine-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at St. John's.||--||6-3|
|Michigan is 8-1 in the first two quadrants with double-digit wins over Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue. The Wolverines' lone loss came at Minnesota.||--||4-4|
|Houston is 6-1 in the first two quadrants with a double-digit victory over Texas Tech. The Cougars will take an eight-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at East Carolina.||--||8-0|
|Ohio State is 6-1 in its past seven games with victories over Wisconsin and Illinois. The Buckeyes will take a three-game winning streak into Thursday's game at Iowa.||1||7-1|
|Illinois is 9-5 in the first two quadrants after Tuesday's win at Indiana. The Illini will take a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game with Wisconsin.||1||6-1|
|Texas is 1-3 in its past four games after Tuesday's loss to Baylor. All four of the Longhorns' losses qualify as Quadrant 1 defeats.||2||6-1|
|Iowa is 6-2 in its past eight games with victories over Rutgers, Minnesota and Maryland. Three of the Hawkeyes' four losses qualify as Quadrant 1 defeats.||--||5-3|
|Alabama's 10-game winning streak was snapped Saturday at Oklahoma. The Crimson Tide is 9-3 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss coming to Western Kentucky.||--||6-2|
|West Virginia is 5-3 in the Big 12 and tied for second with Texas in the league standings. The Mountaineers are 6-5 in the first two quadrants with all five losses qualifying as Quadrant 1 defeats.||--||3-4|
|Texas Tech's two-game winning streak features wins over Oklahoma and LSU. The Red Raiders are 5-2 in their past seven games with the only losses in that stretch coming to Baylor and West Virginia.||--||5-2|
|Oklahoma's five-game winning streak was snapped Monday by Texas Tech. The Sooners are 5-5 in the first two quadrants with all five losses qualifying as Quadrant 1 defeats.||--||7-0|
|Missouri avoided what would've been its first Quadrant 3 loss by edging TCU in overtime on Saturday. The Tigers are 6-3 in the first two quadrants with wins over Illinois and Tennessee.||--||7-2|
|Virginia Tech improved to 6-3 in the first two quadrants via Saturday's double-digit win over Virginia. The Hokies will take a two-game winning streak into Wednesday's game at Pitt.||1||6-3|
|Virginia's seven-game winning streak was snapped Saturday at Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers are 6-3 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses.||1||7-1|
|Creighton's 3-1 record in Quadrant 1 opportunities is highlighted by wins over Seton Hall and UConn. The Bluejays will take a three-game winning streak into Wednesday's game with Georgetown.||1||7-1|
|Wisconsin is 8-5 in the first two quadrants with zero additional losses. The Badgers are 8-4 in the Big Ten heading into Saturday's game at Illinois.||1||6-2|
|Florida State's five-game winning streak was snapped Saturday at Georgia Tech. The Seminoles are 6-2 in the first two quadrants with one additional loss to UCF.||1||4-3|
|Tennessee is 2-3 in its past five games after Tuesday's loss at Ole Miss. The Vols are 5-4 in the first two quadrants with all four losses coming in Quadrant 1.||5||4-3|
|UCLA is alone atop the Pac-12 standings with a 9-1 league record. The Bruins have two Quadrant 1 wins and zero losses outside of the first quadrant.||1||5-2|
|Kansas is 6-6 in the first two quadrants with all six losses qualifying as Quadrant 1 defeats. The Jayhawks are tied for fourth in the Big 12 standings behind Baylor, Texas and West Virginia.||1||7-1|
|Florida's four-game winning streak features Quadrant 1 wins over West Virginia and Tennessee. The Gators are 2-2 in the first quadrant, 3-2 in the second quadrant.||1||4-3|
|Louisville's 8-3 record in the first two quadrants includes victories over Duke, Virginia Tech, Pitt and Georgia Tech. Three of the Cardinals' four losses have come inside the first quadrant.||1||4-4|
|Drake is the only team besides Gonzaga and Baylor that still has a zero in the loss column. The Bulldogs have won 13 of their 17 games by double-digits.||NR||7-1|
|USC's three-game winning streak is highlighted by Tuesday's Quadrant 1 win at Stanford. The Trojans are 3-2 in the first quadrant with only one loss coming outside of the first quadrant.||NR||5-3|
In: Drake, USC
Out: Purdue, North Carolina