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Who’s the Best Team in NCAA Men’s Hoops? — Sports Survey of the Day

NCAA teams
Jeff Zelevansky, Jamie Squire, Andy Lyons, Gregory Shamus, Streeter Lecka / Getty Images

Gonzaga University—for a long time everyone’s favorite Cinderella pick in the NCAA Tournament—took over the national number one ranking in the Associated Press poll on Monday, making it the fifth team to do so this year. But are they really the best team out there?

With a comparably tiny enrollment of just 7,600, the Zags are the first non-Big Six conference (Big Ten, ACC, Big East, SEC, PAC 12, Big 12) in five years to hit the top spot, and only the third such team ever to do so (Memphis in 2007-08, St. Joseph in 2003-04). The Zags replaced Indiana, which had stood atop the rankings for four weeks before losing to Minnesota last week. Prior to Indiana, three other teams had reached number one this season: Duke, Michigan and Kansas.

At 29-2, Gonzaga owns the best record in Division I, so they have a solid claim as the country’s best. But the fact that they play in the West Coast Conference, as opposed to one of the major ones like the other four (former) number ones, does raise some questions.

Of course, during March Madness anything can happen. As Gonzaga itself has shown many times, a low seed can take out a top seed at any time. At least for now, though, it’s the Zags with the biggest target on their backs.

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