Monday, March 24, 2014

Good news for Aztecs, Bulldogs in initial RPI

The initial Ratings Percentage Index of the season was released today, and it holds great news for San Diego State and Fresno State, and some very good news for Mountain West softball overall.

Both the Aztecs and Bulldogs rank in the RPI Top 50, an important factor in selecting the 64-team NCAA Tournament field.  And after three Mountain West teams ranked in the Top 100 of last year's initial RPI release, that figure has doubled to six this time around.

This is the first time in the history of Mountain West softball that six teams rank in the RPI Top 100.

San Diego State (24-9) is 34th to lead the conference.  The Aztecs have non-conference wins over the likes of Long Beach State (RPI 39), Cal State Fullerton (RPI 46), and Oklahoma State (RPI 49).

Fresno State (16-12) doesn't come close to the lofty record of the Aztecs, but the Bulldogs played an overall more difficult non-conference schedule and also have the Mountain West's top three wins in terms of RPI.  Fresno State has victories this year over Top 10 Nebraska (RPI 9), Top 20 Washington (RPI 19), and Top 30 NC State (RPI 29).

Both the Aztecs and Bulldogs have improved their RPIs from last season's initial release.  SDSU is up seven spots from No. 41 to 34.  The Bulldogs' jump has been a tremendous, 55-spot leap from No. 104 last year to this season's 49.  One historical note:  No Fresno State team that finished a season ranked in the RPI Top 50 has ever missed the NCAA Tournament.  The Bulldogs' task will be to stay there.

The third-best RPI belongs to MW newcomer San Jose State, which debuts at No. 64.  When they reached the NCAA Tournament last season as a member of the Western Athletic Conference, SJSU had a final RPI of 57.

Two Mountain West teams check in back-to-back in the RPI.  UNLV is 82nd, followed by Colorado State at No. 83.  A much stronger schedule allows the Rebels, with a losing record of 13-18, to rank ahead of the 15-8 Rams.

The sixth MW team in the RPI Top 100 is Boise State, which comes in at No. 99.  Rounding out the conference are Utah State (RPI 125), New Mexico (RPI 142) and Nevada (152).  The Wolf Pack went 18-10 in non-conference play, but have just one victory against a team that currently has a winning overall record.