The Gonzaga Bulldogs finally earned some much deserved respect.
The Bulldogs found out that they are the new No. 1 team in the country according to the latest AP Poll. Gonzaga is now the fifth school to hold the spot after replacing Indiana Hoosiers this week. The others were Duke Blue Devils, Louisville Cardinals and Michigan Wolverines.
It is the first time since 2004 that a team outside the power six conferences is not No. 1 and the Zags are just the 57th school to be ranked No. 1 since the AP poll began in January 1949.
Quite a feat for a school with less than 8,000 enrollment in the great northwest.
It was kind of shocking that the voters stepped “outside the box” the and did the right thing and gave Gonzaga the respect that they earned throughout the course of the season.
Gonzaga’s only two loses were to then ranked No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini in early December at home and a buzzer-beater loss against the No. 13 Butler Bulldogs in mid-January, which they would have won if not for an errant inbound pass at the end of the game and a miraculous game-winning floater by Roosevelt Jones of Butler.
Still, Gonzaga may now have to be concerned with the target on their back and the so-called “No. 1 jinx” that has plagued Indiana, Duke, Louisville and Michigan before them.
Nevertheless, Kelly Olynyk, Gonzaga’s star and potentially the national player of the year, recognized that, “We have a special team this year. It shows that college basketball in the rest of the country has a lot of respect for us.”
Follow Bert DeSalvo on Twitter @CoachDeSalvo