Gonzaga (27-2) returns to the #1 ranking in the latest college basketball AP Top 25 Poll, while Duke (24-3) slips to #3 after suffering a loss to rival North Carolina.

Gonzaga teammates Brandon Clarke (15) and Zach Norvell (23) help Rui Hachimura (21) off the floor against BYU in Spokane, WA. (Image: James Snook/USA Today Sports)

Gonzaga held the top ranking for two weeks at the start of the season when they picked off Duke at the Maui Classic in Hawaii.

In one of the biggest rivalry games of the year, #8 North Carolina picked off #1 Duke after Zion Williamson went down with an injury in the opening minute of play. As a result, North Carolina (22-5) moved into the top five for the first time and Duke fell two spots. Duke and UNC will meet one more time for the last game of the season in early March.

Virginia (24-2) moved into the #2 ranking, while Kentucky (23-4) improved to #4. Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina are currently in a three-way tie for first place in the ACC. Over in the SEC, there’s another three-way tie among Kentucky, Tennessee, and LSU.

1. Gonzaga (27-2)
2. Virginia (24-2)
3. Duke (24-3)
4. Kentucky (23-4)
5. North Carolina (22-5)
6. Michigan St (23-5)
7. Tennessee (24-3)
8. Houston (26-1)
9. Michigan (24-4)
10. Marquette (23-4)

Michigan State made a huge leap to #6 after defeating their rival Michigan 77-70. On the flip slide, Michigan fell two spots to #9.

Houston, the only one-loss team in the Top 35, moved up one spot to #8 overall. Nevada tumbled out of the Top 10 after a tough Mountain West conference loss to San Diego State. The Wolfpack are currently #12.

Zags Back to the Top

Gonzaga is the best team in the West and have a #1 seed locked up so long as nothing disastrous happens in the last couple weeks of the season. The Zags are a perfect 14-0 in WCC conference action. They are churning out 90.4 points, while holding opponents to only 65.2 points.

The biggest knock against Gonzaga is the competition. The WCC is not in the same category as the ACC or Big Ten. Then again, it’s the top conference in the West with the PAC-12 suffering.

The Zags have two more road games on the regular schedule. They play Pacific this week and St. Mary’s next week. They are projected to finish the season 29-2 before heading into the WCC conference tournament.

Three Newbies

The Buffalo Bulls moved up several spots from #25 to #21. The Bulls were on the verge of exiting the Top 25, but cobbled together a five-game winning streak with massive blowout victories against MAC foes. Buffalo crushed Ohio and Kent State for a combined 70 points

The poll this week includes three new teams: Cincinnati, Wofford, and Washington. Cincinnati (23-4) is the best team from the AAC not named the Houston Cougars.

The Wofford Terriers (24-4) from the Southern Conference moved into the Top 25 for the first time this season. They are riding a 15-game winning streak. They are only one-game behind Houston in the standings.

The AP Poll threw the Pac-12 a sympathy vote by including Washington in their latest poll. UW is ranked #25 and the lackluster Pac-12 finally has a team in the poll.

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