Monday, May 5, 2014

San Diego State and Fresno State on the NCAA bubble

The final Ratings Percentage Index of the regular season was released today.  It's the last look we'll get at the numbers used by the NCAA softball selection committee before the Field of 64 is announced Sunday live on ESPNU at 7 pm Pacific time.

A few weeks back, there was a 23-point difference between the positions held by San Diego State and Fresno State.  Those two have been ranked first and second in the Mountain West all season in the RPI.  At one point in April, the Aztecs were 36th and the Bulldogs 59th.

The gap has closed considerably and now just four spots separate the two.  San Diego State is ranked 48th in the final RPI of the regular season, while Fresno State comes in at No. 52.  It's NCAA bubble territory for both teams, and each likely needs to win its final conference series of the season this weekend to have a chance at both the Mountain West championship, or an at-large NCAA berth should it be necessary.

San Diego State and Fresno State both present the selection committee with interesting profiles for at-large selections.  SDSU leads the Mountain West with 17 wins against the RPI Top 100, while Fresno State leads the conference in wins over the RPI Top 25 and the RPI Top 50.  In fact, the Bulldogs have two Top 25 wins (over No. 14 Washington and No. 19 Nebraska) and three Top 30 wins when you add in No. 30 North Carolina State.  Fresno State also leads the MW in wins over the RPI Top 50 with five.

The Aztecs, whose best win (according to the RPI) is over No. 45 Long Beach State, have 16 wins over teams ranked 51st to 100th.  The Bulldogs, meanwhile, are right behind SDSU with 14 victories over the RPI Top 100.

If Fresno State is one of the final teams in consideration for an at-large bid (should it not win the automatic NCAA berth by capturing the MW regular season title), the Bulldogs' wins over Washington, Nebraska and NC State could loom large.

Instead of leaving any of this in the hands of the NCAA selection committee, both Kathy Van Wyk's and Trisha Ford's squads will want to try their best to win the Mountain West regular-season title this weekend.  And they both surely have their eyes set on that.

Elsewhere, Colorado State rose five spots in the RPI to No. 74, despite losing two of three at Fresno State.  Boise State swept a 3-game set from New Mexico and climbed to No. 78, its highest position of the season.  Despite losing two of three to SDSU, San Jose State climbed two places to No. 83.  And UNLV split a pair of non-conference games with Oregon State and dropped four spots to No. 90, giving the Mountain West six teams in the RPI Top 90 again this week.

Nevada (142nd), New Mexico (176th) and Utah State (180th) rounded out the Mountain West RPI rankings this week.