I had been looking forward to the release of this week's polls ever since the Zags took care of business against San Diego but it's safe to say that even I did not see this coming. According to the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, Gonzaga has fought and clawed their way all the way back into the top ten. The tenth ranked Zags (sounds good, huh?) are the proud owners of a six game winning streak, the most recent four coming on the road.
The recently released Associated Press poll, however, wasn't as kind to the Bulldogs and has slated them as the 15th best team in the country at this point.
The six game streak that garnered the rise in the polls obviously has many attractive wins but the thing that impresses me the most is the fact that it came on the heels of the Duke loss we'd love to forget. In the near month since that occurrence, Gonzaga has beaten Oklahoma, Illinois on the road, and their three toughest conference opponents all on the road. For such a young team to bounce back and actually thrive after that Duke loss is extremely impressive, especially when you look around and see other schools struggling to mesh their youth with their returning players.
Last week, Gonzaga was ranked 14th by the Coaches and they obviously benefited from some other teams losing around them to move up four spots. Purdue, previously ranked sixth, slid all the way down to 15th. West Virginia, Georgetown, and North Carolina also lost this week and find themselves behind the Bulldogs.
In the Associated Press poll, Gonzaga's big streak wasn't received with as much excitement. A week ago, this team was 17th and their two spot rise comes at the expense of North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Connecticut. BYU jumped Gonzaga this week, going from 18th to 14th. Those teams I mentioned in the paragraph above, with the exception of North Carolina, all remain ranked above Gonzaga this week despite losses.
Scanning the rest of the region...things get pretty sparse. BYU has climbed up to 13th with a sparkling 18-1 record and looking into the "also-rans" you see names like New Mexico, Cal, and San Diego State. Even though they lost to Gonzaga, Saint Mary's is still getting votes in the Coaches and is sitting at 32nd. If they can continue to run through the conference, except against Gonzaga, they will be in great position for a possible tourney bid. Any slip ups could be there demise, however. In this Associated Press poll, the Gaels weren't as fortunate and still aren't getting votes. The only Pac-10 program which is getting votes in the AP is Arizona State and New Mexico is the other representative West of the Rockies.