College Basketball is officially back, with the AP Poll’s first official top 25 of the season coming out on Monday morning. The Gonzaga Bulldogs settled in at No. 11, narrowly missing the top ten for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
Kansas, Duke, Purdue, Michigan State, and Marquette make up the top five, followed by UConn, Houston, Creighton, Tennessee, and NCAA Tournament darling FAU.
Gonzaga’s schedule is, as expected, littered with preseason Top 25 teams. The Zags are guaranteed to play Purdue (3) in Maui, and could face Tennessee (8) Marquette (5) or Kansas (1) in the tournament as well depending how the bracket shakes out.
Beyond that the Zags also play No. 6 UConn in Seattle, No. 17 San Diego State on the road, No. 21 USC in Las Vegas, No. 16 Kentucky at Rupp Arena in February, and of course No. 23 Saint Mary’s at least twice in the regular season and likely once more in Vegas.
Mark Few’s team doesn’t shy away from loading up the non-conference slate with marquee opponents, and this year’s schedule is no different. Improved performers in the WCC, including of course SMC as well as San Francisco, LMU, and Santa Clara, should help this program be battle tested heading into March Madness as they look to extend their Sweet 16 streak to nine straight years.
Andy hosts the Locked on Zags and Locked on College Basketball podcasts, and serves Locked On in a marketing/digital content creator role as well. He lives just outside Portland with his wife Jenna and dog, Tillie.