Steve Hewitt’s college hoops Top 25: Gonzaga, Baylor clearly at the top

Editor’s note: Herald sports reporter Steve Hewitt is a voter in the Associated Press college basketball Top 25 poll. Every week through the end of the season, he’ll write a column providing some analysis and reasoning behind his votes.
Two weeks ago, we were supposed to get Gonzaga vs. Baylor. No. 1 vs. No. 2 on a neutral court, the perfect early Christmas present for college hoops fans that would help us determine the best team in the country at this stage.
But then both teams suspended all activities due to COVID-19 issues. There was no game. We were left to wonder. Hopefully, that game will still be played. But if it doesn’t happen in the regular season, this weekend reminded us that it might just happen in the national championship game.
On Saturday, 17 days since its previous game, Gonzaga returned from its hiatus with a convincing 11-point victory over Iowa. And Baylor, 10 days since its last game, came back to smoke Kansas State by 31. With little practice time and such a long layoff, it speaks to how good the Bulldogs and Bears are that they didn’t skip a beat in their returns.
For now, it’s Gonzaga No. 1, Baylor No. 2 and a decent gap between them and the rest of the country.
There was some movement in the Top 10 of this week’s poll, with Michigan State suffering a stunning loss to Northwestern and Creighton falling to Marquette. Iowa didn’t drop in my poll by virtue of losing to the clear-cut top team in the country, even if the Hawkeyes fell below Kansas in the AP poll. Both teams’ lone losses are to Gonzaga.
Rutgers — yes, Rutgers! — was one of the biggest movers this week. The Scarlet Knights, now 6-0 after a three-point victory over Illinois, are up to No. 11 in my poll, and they can further stake a claim of being for real with a matchup against Ohio State on Wednesday.
Steve Hewitt’s Top 25 ballot, Dec. 21, 2020
1. Gonzaga
2. Baylor
3. Iowa
4. Kansas
5. West Virginia
6. Villanova
7. Houston
8. Tennessee
9. Texas
10. Wisconsin
11. Rutgers
12. Missouri
13. North Carolina
14. Creighton
15. Texas Tech
16. Michigan State
17. Illinois
18. Duke
19. Ohio State
20. Indiana
21. Michigan
22. Oregon
23. Xavier
24. Virginia Tech
25. Arkansas
Associated Press Top 25 poll, Dec. 21, 2020

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