College Basketball: Gonzaga Stays on Top by Not Playing

The Gonzaga Bulldogs became the third team to hold on to the stop spot in the NCAA basketball polls by taking the week off. On December 21, they beat Eastern Washington 112-77 and didn’t play again until Monday, December 30, when they beat Detroit Mercy 93-72. If the Zags can defeat Portland and Pepperdine this week, they will likely do something that no other team has done this year: Stay #1 for three weeks in a row. Gonzaga leads the nation with 88.5 points per game, and is only allowing 68.3 ppg, for a point differential of 20.2, so you have to like their chances against a couple of .500 teams from a mid-major conference. Here’s a look at this week’s games on Sling.

Tuesday, December 31
Boston College Eagles (8-5) vs #2 Duke Blue Devils (11-1)
6pm ET on ACC
The Eagles won their third straight back on the 21st, defeating the Cal Bears 64-60 with Jairus Hamilton posting team highs in points and rebounds with 18 and 8, respectively. On Saturday, Vernon Carey Jr. scored 19 points on 8-of-13 shooting to lead Duke to a 75-50 trouncing of the Brown Bears for the team’s fifth straight victory.

#11 Butler Bulldogs (12-1) vs St. John’s Red Storm (11-2)
7:30pm ET on FS1
The Bulldogs curb-stomped Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday, 67-36, with Derrik Smits coming off the bench to lead all scorers with 16 points in just 13 minutes. The Red Storm nearly let a 14-point halftime lead slip away on the 21st, but held on to beat Arizona 70-67, as LJ Figueroa led the team with 21 points.

Thursday, January 2
Illinois Fighting Illini (9-4) vs #14 Michigan State Spartans (10-3)
8pm ET on FS1
The Fighting Illini beat up on North Carolina A&T on Sunday, 96-64, as Kofi Cockburn had game-highs in points, 26, and rebounds, 9. The Spartans won their fifth straight on Sunday, beating Western Michigan 95-62 behind Xavier Tillman’s fifth double-double of the season, as he posted a 15-11 line.

#4 Oregon Ducks (11-2) vs Colorado Buffaloes (11-2)
9pm ET on ESPN2
The Ducks have won five in a row since back-to-back losses to UNC and Gonzaga over the Thanksgiving holiday, most recently beating up on Alabama State, 98-59, as freshman Chris Duarte scored a season-high 31 points. Colorado buffaloed Iona 99-54 on Sunday as seven players scored in double figures and the defense held Iona to 30% shooting from the floor.

Friday, January 3
Wisconsin Badgers (7-5) vs #5 Ohio State Buckeyes (11-2)
7pm ET on FS1
D’Mitrik Trice scored 21 points on Friday to pace the Badgers in their 68-48 win over Tennessee. The Buckeyes fell to 3-1 against ranked teams following their 67-59 loss to West Virginia on Sunday, as the team shot just 29.2% from inside the arc.

Saturday, January 4
Texas Longhorns (10-2) vs #6 Baylor Bears (10-1)
8pm ET on ESPN2
Texas beat High Point 89-58 on Monday, as Jericho Sims posted his third double-double of the season, with 12 points and 11 boards. The Bears reeled off their ninth win in a row on Monday, beating Jackson State 83-57 behind Freddie Gillespie’s fifth double-double of the season, as the sophomore went 10-13 for the day.

Pepperdine Waves (7-7) vs #1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (14-1)
10pm ET on ESPN2
The Waves crashed against the shores of reality on Saturday, as Pepperdine lost 83-68 to San Jose State, wasting Colby Ross’ 14-11 effort. Ryan Woolridge went 21-6-8 while hitting on 3-of-4 from downtown to lead the Zags to a 93-72 win Monday over Detroit Mercy.

Monday, January 6
#16 West Virginia Mountaineers (11-1) vs Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3)
9pm ET on ESPN2
The Mountaineers beat the then #2 Buckeyes Sunday, 67-59, despite the starting five scoring just 22 points on 7-for-20 shooting. Miles McBride came off the bench to lead all scorers with 21 points. The Cowboys annihilated Southeastern Louisiana 82-31 on Sunday, and that’s after coach Michael Boynton tried to show some mercy by going with an 11-man rotation.

Stats through Monday, courtesy SRCBB

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