WSU women’s hoops finishes non-conference schedule with 9-2 record, not in top 25

Washington State women’s basketball completed its non-conference schedule with a 9-2 schedule. But the Cougars were left out of the AP and USA Today Coaches Poll top 25s.

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The Cougars have played five teams that were in last season’s NCAA Tournament, WSU went 3-2 in those games. Washington State has also gone 3-0 in true road environments, and is 2-2 against teams currently in the RPI top 45. Despite these accomplishments, the Cougs have been left out of the AP and USA Coaches poll top 25; and are currently sitting at 50 in the NCAA’s RPI. In fact, WSU is currently below in-state rival UW in every poll.

The Cougars have played four teams that are currently in the NCAA RPI top 45, these are the teams that probably will earn a NCAA Tournament bid. These games included a 16-point victory over (then ranked) No. 20 Dayton — Dayton is currently ranked No. 13 by RPI, but isn’t in the AP or USA Today top 25 — and a 20-point loss to (then ranked) no. 15 Nebraska — the Cornhuskers are currently ranked at No. 7 by RPI, No. 13 by the AP, and No. 15 by USA Today coaches’ poll. Washington State’s other loss was to an unranked Michigan (currently at ranked at No. 23 by RPI).

Tia Presley has played a crucial part in the program's turnaround. (Courtesy of WSUCougars.com)

Tia Presley has played a crucial role in the program’s turnaround. (Courtesy of WSUCougars.com)

Despite the team’s impressive performance in the early going, WSU is receiving absolutely no respect from any of the polls. The Cougars received seven votes in the AP top 25, and five votes in the USA Today coaches’ poll. Over the last couple of weeks, the Cougs have actually remained pretty steady within the voted polls; but the team has seen its RPI ranking drop from 45 to 50 during the last two weeks.

WSU’s drop in RPI came after the team beating Montana State (RPI 124) 82-61 and Loyola Marymount (227) 87-60. Neither team is good, in fact LMU is just down right awful, but the Cougars strong performance against the rest of its non-conference schedule should be enough to keep the team in the top 45…the computers disagree, and so do the polls. And that would be understandable, if UW wasn’t receiving more votes in both polls and ranked higher than WSU by RPI — the Huskies are currently ranked No. 25, the Cougars are ranked No. 50.

Washington (10-1) has played one team in the RPI top 25, Florida State (21), and beat them. While Washington State has played three — Dayton, Nebraska, Michigan — and have posted a 1-2 record in those games. WSU has played the tougher schedule, and I can prove it…using mean, median, best win, and best loss of both teams.

 Mean and median

Teams Median Mean
Washington Huskies 80 117.3
Washington State Cougars 68 134.7

Because the Cougars have played more teams that are ranked higher than the Huskies have, WSU has a lower median. Since UW has played a consistently mediocre schedule, the Huskies median looks a lot better than the Cougars; despite the fact that they haven’t played nearly as many highly ranked teams than Washington State…or nearly as many lower ranked teams – the worst team WSU has played is UC Santa Barabra (342), the worst team the Huskies have played is Seattle (262).

Best win

Team Score and opponent Opponent RPI rank
Washington Huskies 80-60 over Florida State 21
Washington State Cougars 76-60 over Dayton 13

The Cougars 16-point victory knocked Dayton out of the AP top 25 and USA Today coaches’ poll, and the Flyers haven’t jumped back into the top 25 since. Dayton has gone 6-2 since losing to Washington State, and the Flyers have won their last six games.

Florida State was in the USA Today coaches’ poll at the start of the season, but the Seminoles loss to Washington knocked them out of it. Since losing to the Huskies, the Seminoles have won eight straight to improve their record to 12-1 on the season.

Worst loss

Team Score and opponent Opponent RPI rank
Washington Huskies 90-80 to Oklahoma 80
Washington State Cougars 76-64 to Michigan 23

The Huskies opened up their season with a 10-point loss to the mediocre Oklahoma Sooners. Oklahoma has gone 4-5 since opening up its season with a 10-point victory over Washington. This is also the only loss that Washington has so far this season.

Michigan is the worst team to beat Washington State (according to RPI, and common sense). The Wolverines have gone 4-2 since beating the Cougars in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  While the Cougars have won five straight to close out non-conference play.

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