Dec. 10, 2007
SAN BRUNO, Calif. - For the first time in 34 years, two West Coast Conference men's basketball teams are ranked in the top 25 at the same time. The undefeated Saint Mary's Gaels, coming off of a 69-64 win over San Diego State, join the Gonzaga Bulldogs in both the Associated Press and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches top 25 polls.
The Gaels enter this week's rankings at No. 24 in both polls, while the Zags check in at No. 19 in the AP poll and No. 23 in the Coaches poll.
The last time that the WCC had two teams ranked at the same time in the top 25 was during the 1973-74 season. San Francisco and UNLV, then a member of the WCC, formerly known as the West Coast Athletic Conference (WCAC), were ranked in the top-25 at the same time. Both San Francisco and UNLV earned preseason rankings and both were ranked in the AP's December 4, 1973 poll.
The last time SMC was ranked in the top-25 was the 1988-89 campaign when the Gaels finished the season with a No. 20 ranking. The 1988-89 season resulted in an NCAA Tournament appearance and a 25-5 record. That season SMC posted a first place finish in the West Coast Conference with a 12-2 ledger.
Coincidentally, the 7-0 Gaels are off to the best start since the 1988-89 season, when they posted a school record 9-0 start to open the season, SMC did not get ranked until the last three weeks of the season. SMC was ranked in the top-25 for three straight weeks and entered the poll with a No. 19 ranking the last week of February in 1989. After jumping up to No. 17 in the polls the final week of the regular season, SMC dropped to No. 20 overall following a loss to Clemson in the NCAA Tournament.
Saint Mary's will put its No. 24 ranking to the test on Tuesday (12/11) when the Gaels play at Southern Illinois, where the Salukis have won 80 of their last 84 homes games since the 2001-02 season. The game between SMC and SIU will tip-off at 7 pm CST from the 9,600-seat SIU Arena. Meanwhile, Gonzaga is off this week and will host Northern Colorado next Monday (12/17).