Gonzaga, Baylor remain atop AP Top 25 after game scrapped

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West Virginia and Gonzaga play during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020, in Indianapolis. Gonzaga was scheduled to play Baylor but the game was cancelled due to COVID. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Gonzaga and Baylor remained atop the AP Top 25 men’s basketball poll Monday after their hotly anticipated weekend game in Indianapolis was called off about 90 minutes before tipoff because of positive COVID-19 tests and contact tracing within the Bulldogs’ program.

Gonzaga received 54 of 61 first-place votes from a national media panel while the Bears had the other seven. Iowa remained third after Luka Garza’s monster week powered the Hawkeyes to a pair of easy victories, Michigan State climbed four spots to No. 4 and Kansas jumped two spots to round out the top 5.

Illinois allowed the Big Ten Conference to keep three teams in the top six after then-No. 4 Wisconsin took a tumble with a last-second loss to Marquette. The Illini were followed by Houston, Creighton, Villanova and Duke.

The top 10 could get a shakeup this week. Iowa plays No. 16 North Carolina and Illinois faces the Blue Devils in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Tuesday night. The Jayhawks play the Bluejays in the Big East-Big 12 Battle.

There were plenty of high-impact matchups during college basketball’s second full week, but none as widely anticipated as Gonzaga-Baylor at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The ‘Zags already had knocked off the Jayhawks and No. 11 West Virginia along with Auburn while the Bears were soaring after a win over Illinois.

But when two members of the Bulldogs’ traveling party, including one player, produced a positive coronavirus test before their game was to tip on Saturday, it forced public health officials and school officials to call it off.

“We’re disappointed to not be able to play one of the most anticipated games of the season, but we are following the advice of public health officials,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few and Baylor counterpart Scott Drew said in a joint statement. ”There are much greater issues in this world than not being able to play a basketball game, so we’re going to continue praying for everyone who has been affected by this pandemic.”

While both teams hope to reschedule the game, they are also left looking ahead to more tests. The Bulldogs have canceled their next four games as they continue to deal with the virus, leaving their next game a high-profile matchup with the Hawkeyes on Dec. 17. Baylor will soon open Big 12 play against No. 13 Texas.

Wisconsin was tied with the Longhorns, followed by Virginia Tech, North Carolina, Texas Tech, Virginia, Richmond and Florida State. The final five were Rutgers, Ohio State, Arizona State, San Diego State and Louisville.

MOVING IN AND OUT

The Aztecs and Cardinals, each off to 4-0 starts, moved into the poll in place of Kentucky and Oregon.

BIG BLUE BUMMER

The Wildcats not only fell from No. 20 out of the poll after their third straight loss, this time a blowout at the hands of Georgia Tech, but coach John Calipari’s bunch didn’t receive a single vote. Kentucky (1-3) is off to its worst start since the 2000-01 season, when it went 24-10 under Tubby Smith.

“There’s a lot of stuff we’re working on and losing games makes it harder,” Calipari said. “I mean everybody is knocking us around right now.”

STILL LOOKING IN

Michigan remained the first team outside the Top 25 for the second consecutive week. Saint Louis and Florida, which like the Wolverines are so far unbeaten, were next among other teams receiving votes.

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