Tuesday, April 12, 2016

RPI, Top 25 polls, and strength of schedule stats

It's early in the week so that means a whole lot of stats, polls and rankings are fresh and in the news.

All of the news remains great for Fresno State this week.  Most importantly, the RPI for the Bulldogs remains high.  Coach Trisha Ford's squad moved up two spots to No. 21 this week after a 3-game road sweep at New Mexico.  With nine wins over the current RPI Top 50 and 18 wins over the RPI Top 100, Fresno State remains in strong contention for a Top 16 national seed and regional host spot in the upcoming NCAA tournament, provided that it continues winning.

Strength of schedule is where the Bulldogs have a wild card that could enable them to host an NCAA regional.  Fresno State has played the country's 11th toughest schedule, according to NCAA stats released Monday.  One other Mountain West team -- San Jose State -- has played a Top 50 schedule.  The Spartans are at No. 49 in the latest SOS numbers.

In the just-released national Top 25 polls this week, Fresno State moved up one spot to No. 19 in the College Sports Madness rankings.  For the second week in a row, the Bulldogs dramatically increased their vote totals in both the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll and ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings, but held at the No. 23 and No. 25 spots, respectively.  In those two polls, Fresno State's vote totals increased from 76 to 100 (USA Today/NFCA) and from 29 to 46 (ESPN.com/USA Softball).

The Bulldogs narrowly trail Arizona State in both polls, with the Sun Devils having 23 more votes in the coaches' poll and just 1 more vote in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.  Teams ranked 22nd thru 25th are separated by a total of just 20 votes in the ESPN.com rankings.

In the RPI, San Diego State actually rose a spot to No. 60 (second-best in the MW) despite losing two of three at home to Colorado State.  The Aztecs have their best shot of getting back in the race for the conference crown and reaching a ninth straight NCAA tournament this week with a series at San Jose State.  The Spartans have the MW's third-best RPI at No. 86.

Suffering the biggest drop in the RPI this week among MW teams is Nevada.  The Wolf Pack fell 15 spots from No. 73 to No. 88 despite winning three games against Niagara.  The reason:  Niagara is 2-22 overall this season.  Additionally, the Wolf Pack's strength of schedule dropped to a conference-worst 272nd (of 295 NCAA Division I teams).

Making the biggest leap in the RPI this week among MW teams is Boise State.  The Broncos rose 15 spots from No. 204 to No. 189 after taking two of three from UNLV.  The Rebels, meanwhile, have fallen hard the past two weeks.  UNLV was 97th in the RPI just a couple of weeks ago, but now sits at No. 152.

Current RPIs:  Fresno State 21st, San Diego State 60th, San Jose State 86th, Nevada 88th, New Mexico 95th, Colorado State 125th, UNLV 152nd, Boise State 189th, Utah State 191st.

Current SOSs:  Fresno State 11th, San Jose State 49th, New Mexico 73rd, San Diego State 77th, Boise State 135th, Colorado State 145th, UNLV 165th, Utah State 259th, Nevada 272nd.