Gaels Men’s Basketball is Ranked No. 22 in the Nation

In polls by AP and USA Today, Saint Mary’s has climbed into the top 25. The Gaels lead the West Coast Conference. And in NET Rankings, they’re rated the highest in program history.

Saint Mary's Men's Basketball is ranked No. 22 in AP and USA Today polls

It took 12 weeks, but Saint Mary’s Men’s Basketball broke through and entered the AP Top-25 for the first time this season. In the most recent poll, Saint Mary’s is ranked No. 22, effectively a five-spot jump from where they were last week. In the USA Today Coaches Poll, the Gaels find themselves up from No. 24 last week to No. 22 this week.

When the Gaels reached the Top-25 in the AP Poll last year, they were ranked No. 22 in both polls, as they are this week. They also find themselves on a long winning streak, winners of nine-straight games, the fifth-longest active streak in the NCAA. Saint Mary’s is also all alone atop the WCC standings for the first time this season as well, with a 7–0 record in conference play.

 

The Gaels’ Formidable Defense

It continues to be all about defense for the Gaels, who rank fourth in the NCAA in fewest points allowed per game, at 57.2. Only Houston, Tennessee, and North Texas are allowing fewer points per game than SMC. The Gaels are fifth in the country in rebound margin at +8.6, and all of that has helped Saint Mary’s rank ninth in the country in scoring margin at +14.7.

Offensively, things are starting to click for the Gaels as well. According to KenPom, the Gaels are 32nd in offensive efficiency, the highest they have been all season. Part of that success comes from taking care of the basketball, where the Gaels have the fewest turnovers per game in the West Coast Conference, and the third-lowest offensive steal rate in the country (6.6%).

 

Highest Rankings Ever

Not only are the Gaels climbing in both polls, but they are still going up in both the NET Rankings and in KenPom. Saint Mary’s is No. 6 in the NET Rankings and No. 7 in KenPom, the highest the program has ever been in both rankings. The Gaels lead the West Coast Conference in both, with Gonzaga sitting just outside the top-10.

Saint Mary’s was ranked in both polls for five weeks last season, with all five weeks coming from February through the NCAA Tournament. During that stretch, the Gaels went 5–4. All-time, SMC is 92–39 when ranked in either poll. 

 

Next up: BYU and USF

This week features just one game for the Gaels, who should be rested and ready to go for their road game against BYU next Saturday. It will be the final trip to Provo in West Coast Conference play for SMC, as the Cougars are set to depart the WCC at the end of the season. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. Pacific Time and will be televised on ESPN2.

Saint Mary's has not won at BYU since December 30, 2017. The next chance to see the ranked Gaels at home will be February 2, when Saint Mary’s hosts University of San Francisco at 8 p.m.

 

Read the original story and more about Saint Mary’s Basketball at SMCGaels.com.