In basketball, smaller is sometimes better

Gola
Gola
Posted: March 07, 2013

WHEN GONZAGA'S men's basketball team was ranked No. 1 this week, Sports Illustrated's Extra Mustard blog put together a list of the 20 smallest schools, by enrollment, to ever reach the top spot in the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

The top three are Catholic universities, with No. 2 and No. 3 being St. Joseph's and La Salle, respectively.

According to SI, Holy Cross is the smallest school to ever be top-ranked. The Crusaders, led by Bob Cousy, were No. 1 during the 1949-50 season.

SI used the schools' current enrollment figures, not those of the year they were No. 1. But if anything, the enrollments were probably even smaller back then.

Gonzaga, a tiny Catholic school in Spokane, Wash., is fifth on the list, behind Wake Forest.

St. Joseph's was ranked No. 1 during the 2003-04 season when - led by Jameer Nelson and Delonte West - the Hawks' only loss was to Oklahoma State in the NCAA Tournament's East Regional final.

La Salle was No. 1 twice - during the 1952-53 and '54-55 seasons.

But it was the in-between season - 1953-54 - that was the Explorers' most successful.

That season, La Salle beat Bradley, 92-76, to win the national championship. Charley Singley and Frank Blatcher scored 23 points each and Tom Gola added 19. Gola was named MVP of the tournament.

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