Duke’s loss could create opening for Gonzaga to return to No. 1

February 21, 2019

Gonzaga could be two home wins away from returning to No. 1 in the AP college basketball poll.

No. 8 North Carolina thumped top-ranked Duke 88-72 on Wednesday. Blue Devils freshman Zion Williamson, the favorite for player of the year, suffered an apparent knee injury 33 seconds into the game.

The second-ranked Zags (25-2), who entertain Pepperdine on Thursday and BYU on Saturday, held the top spot for two weeks after defeating Duke 89-87 in the Maui Invitational championship game in November. The Zags dropped to fourth after falling to Tennessee 76-73 in Phoenix and to eighth following a 103-90 loss at North Carolina.

Gonzaga received six first-place votes – the other 58 went to Duke – and was 26 points in front of No. 3 Virginia in Monday’s rankings. The Cavaliers could have a shot at the top spot after a solid 64-58 road win over No. 20 Virginia Tech on Monday. Virginia visits No. 18 Louisville on Saturday.

Gonzaga first reached No. 1 in March 2013, with a 29-2 record. The Zags also were ranked No. 1 in 2017 following a 22-0 start.