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Gonzaga ranked No. 2 in ESPN’s BPI ranking

Only Kansas comes in higher.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-Ohio State vs Gonzaga Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN has rated the Gonzaga Bulldogs the No. 2 team in the nation in its first preseason edition of the BPI Rankings. The Kansas Jayhawks are rated as the top team overall.

Although, generally speaking, rankings don’t mean very much, the BPI is ESPN’s attempt at a better analysis than the RPI. It was created in 2011 with the help of Dean Oliver, the guru of modern basketball analytics, and is generally walking in lockstep with other ranking systems like KenPom.

The preseason metric balances the quantity of experience on the record, the quality of experience, recruiting rankings for incoming freshman, and the coach’s past performance. The Zags check all the boxes, and then some. Seven members of the squad are returning from last year’s Sweet 16 appearance, eight if you include Brandon Clarke hanging around for the year. Geno Crandall, the grad transfer from North Dakota, has appeared in a NCAA Tournament game his sophomore year.

On top of that, the Zags are adding Filip Petrusev, a four-star, top-100 ranked center, and Greg Foster Jr., a three-star shooting guard out of Nevada. All of this isn’t even including the prospective minutes of Joel Ayayi, who will provide some redshirt experience in the backcourt.

Again, rankings, especially preseason rankings, aren’t worth much. The predicative models that exist, however are getting a bit better at determining a team’s overall worth. Any day of the week, it is better to be ranked higher by KenPom or BPI than the AP voters.

The initial BPI also ranks the BYU Cougars at No. 32 and the Saint Mary’s Gaels at No. 54, giving the top end of the WCC some decent metrics to play with.

Interestingly enough, the preseason BPI rankings also rank the WCC the same as the Mountain West Conference.