The Gonzaga Bulldogs came in at No. 17 in CBS Sports writer Matt Norlander’s preseason Top 101 rankings, which were released on Tuesday.
Norlander bucked the trend of just doing a preseason Top 25, instead ranking just over 100 total teams – roughly one third of all Division 1 programs.
Gonzaga was slightly ahead of WCC foe Saint Mary’s, who came in at No. 20 despite being picked ahead of Gonzaga in the WCC preseason coaches poll.
“One of the low-key most important returning decisions of the offseason was Anton Watson opting in for one last run with the Zags,” Norlander wrote. “He’s one of the most efficient players in the sport. Watson should downright thrive because of incoming transfer Ryan Nembhard, who follows in the footsteps of older brother Andrew. I expect Nembhard to be an All-American and to further aid Nolan Hickman’s moderate development.”
If Nembhard truly is an All-American (which feels very possible) this team should be a top 15 team in the country. The health of Graham Ike is a big key for Mark Few’s club, as well as the performance of a very young bench unit that will likely include multiple players who have never played D1 basketball before, as some combination of Dusty Stromer, Jun Seok Yeo, Luka Krajnovic, and Braden Huff will play consistently for the Zags.
Gonzaga and SMC were two of four WCC teams listed in the Top 100, with San Francisco (77) and LMU (99) cracking the list.
Additionally, Gonzaga’s non-conference opponents are well represented on this list, with Purdue (1) USC (10) UConn (13) Kentucky (21) and San Diego State (22) all in the Top 25. Washington (63) and Yale (72) cracked the top 75 as well, once again highlighting Gonzaga’s ability to schedule premier talent outside of the WCC slate.
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.