UConn is the top women's team in the nation and Gonzaga is the top men's team in the latest Associated press college basketball polls released Monday.
In this case No. 1 + No. 1 equals a big deal for two Minnesota high school basketball superstars who are the point guards for their teams as college freshmen.
Paige Bueckers, from Hopkins, is averaging 21.1 points and five assists per game for UConn.
Jalen Suggs, from Minnehaha Academy, is running the Gonzaga attack and widely viewed as a lottery pick in the 2021 NBA draft.
Here's a look at how their seasons have gone so far:
What a start: UConn's women's basketball team is typically the hunted, not the hunter. But the Huskies had to claw their way to the top again after being ranked No. 4 in the Associated Press poll in Week 8. Their first loss Jan. 28 at Arkansas lit a fire under Bueckers, who became the first player in UConn history to have three straight 30-point games. Her memorable 31-point performance and game-deciding three-pointer in overtime last week helped upset No. 1 South Carolina.
Twelve months ago: She finished her senior season leading Hopkins to the Minnesota Class 4A state championship game before it was canceled due to the pandemic. She was a three-time Minnesota Gatorade player of the year, and was named to the McDonald's All-American team after averaging 21 points, nine assists, five rebounds and five steals in 2019-20.
Inside the numbers: UConn legends like Maya Moore, Diana Taurasi and Breanna Stewart were sensational the minute they arrived on campus. Bueckers is making a case to be the best freshman in program history, leading the team with 21.1 points per game and 55% shooting from three-point range. She's averaging 27 points and five assists in February. For the season, she's shooting 57% from the field.
Bueckers says: "I went to UConn to play in huge games like this. Every day, every second, I'm just super grateful to be here."
Others say: "She's that player that comes along that people talk about — 'Hey did you see that kid from Connecticut?' She's that kid." — UConn coach Geno Auriemma.
NCAA tournament outlook: Only three teams are projected to make the NCAA tournament from the Big East right now, including DePaul and Marquette. UConn is the league's lone Final Four hopeful, vying for Auriemma's 12th national title and first since 2015-16.
What a start: Gonzaga has solidified itself as the men's team to beat after opening the season No. 1 in the Associated Press men's college basketball poll. Suggs leadin the way in convincing wins over Kansas and Auburn quickly made him the next big thing. The 6-foot-4 Suggs joins two other first-team All-America candidates in Corey Kispert and Drew Timme to form an offensive juggernaut that has 17 straight victories by double digits, the longest streak since UNLV in 1990-91.
Twelve months ago: The pandemic kept Suggs, a two-sport stud, and fellow five-star hoops prospect Chet Holmgren from teaming up to lead Minnehaha Academy to a likely fourth straight Minnesota Class 3A basketball state title. Suggs was the Star Tribune All-Metro Male Athlete of the Year, finishing as his school's all-time leading scorer with 2,945 points.
Inside the numbers: Suggs, who averages 14.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals, is only Gonzaga's team leader in steals. But he is a No. 1 NBA draft pick candidate because of his play in big games (24 points vs. Kansas, 27 points vs. Iowa and 24 points at BYU).
Suggs says: "When the stage is big and the opponent is even bigger, I'm ready to go out and play. Just to make a statement."
Others say: "[Suggs is] a better shooting not as creative a passing Jason Kidd. His poise and presence is second to none. Total control." — ESPN college hoops analyst Seth Greenberg.
NCAA tournament outlook: A highly anticipated No. 1 vs. 2 matchup between Gonzaga and Baylor on Dec. 5 was canceled due to positive COVID-19 tests within Baylor's program. The Bears and Zags, the only remaining undefeated teams, appear destined to meet in Indianapolis, the host city for the entire NCAA men's tournament this year. Gonzaga's only Final Four appearance was in 2017, finishing runner-up to North Carolina.