Tuesday, March 29, 2016

New RPI & polls: Fresno State in the Top 25 of both

The latest Ratings Percentage Index numbers are out, along with the new Top 25 polls for the week.  Defending Mountain West champion Fresno State finds itself squarely in the mix for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid (should it become necessary) and in line to be considered for a regional host spot if things continue.

That's not to say the Bulldogs are a lock for any of that, because there is a lot of season still left.  But as of right now, coach Trisha Ford's team is looking good.  The Bulldogs are the lone MW team in the Top 25 or Top 50 of the RPI, but one of five in the RPI Top 100.  And there's more:  The Mountain West now has seven teams in the Top 110 of the RPI for the first time in league history.

Having seven RPI teams that highly rated could give an indication that this is another NCAA multi-bid year for the conference, but we'll have to see how things shake out.  For now though, the RPIs stack up this way:

Fresno State is at No. 22, down two spots from last week when it played just one game -- a non-conference, midweek tilt at Cal State Fullerton.  San Diego State is at No. 59, down four spots from last week after going 1-2 at UNLV.  The Bulldogs, for the time being at least, are an NCAA lock with an RPI that high, against the nation's 7th toughest schedule.  The Aztecs, meanwhile, would be in the at-large conversation, but clearly on the bubble.

Nevada is at No. 78, up 15 spots after sweeping Boise State last week.  The Wolf Pack would be much higher if it had played a more difficult non-conference schedule, even by losing several games.  Nevada is 16th nationally in win-loss percentage, but just 263rd (of 295 teams) in strength of schedule.

Making the leap of the week in the RPI among Mountain West teams:  UNLV.  The Rebels jumped 29 spots to No. 97 after taking two of three from San Diego State.  Right on the heels of UNLV are New Mexico (98th) and San Jose State (101st).  The Lobos moved up two spots after taking two of three from Utah State last week, while the Spartans jumped 10 spots without playing.  Colorado State, which also didn't play, moved up six spots to No. 108.

Utah State and Boise State round out the RPI at Nos. 215 and 218, respectively.  The Aggies moved up five spots and the Broncos four, despite going a combined 1-5 last week.

In today's newly-released USA Today/NFCA Top 25 coaches poll, Fresno State held at No. 25.  The Bulldogs have been ranked for seven consecutive weeks in the coaches poll.

And, in national Strength of Schedule numbers, Fresno State is No. 7 this week against a daunting slate.  San Jose State remains in the SOS Top 50 at No. 44.