Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Bulldogs at No. 16, 17, 18 and 19 in polls & RPI heading into final week


It's crunch time.

Definite crunch time.

NCAA Tournament pairings will be announced Sunday at 7 p.m. Pacific time on ESPNU, and Mountain West champion Fresno State is peaking at the right time.

The Bulldogs own the nation's longest winning streak (21 games) and have won 30 straight conference games.  In the latest College Sports Madness Top 25 poll, Fresno State is No. 16 for a second week in a row.  In the latest ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll, the Bulldogs moved up another notch to a season-high No. 17 ranking in that poll.  In the latest Ratings Percentage Index, Fresno State stands at No. 18.  And in the latest USA Today/NFCA coaches poll, it's a season-high No. 19 ranking.

With 16 teams being nationally seeded and hosting NCAA regionals, the Bulldogs are in the discussion for both for the first time since the 2008 season when they were the No. 16 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and hosted a regional.

The RPI news is not so great with regard to other possible NCAA at-large teams out of the Mountain West.  The two next-best RPIs belong to San Diego State (58th) and San Jose State (69th).  Both have 3-game series remaining, but it seems doubtful either will see its name on the board on Selection Sunday.  However, San Diego State at least has a chance, albeit a very slim one, if the Aztecs should sweep Boise State this weekend.

The Aztecs have quality wins in non-conference play that will help them.  One of the most intriguing is SDSU's win earlier this year over Oklahoma State.  At the time, it didn't seem like a great win, but the Cowgirls now seem to be on the good end of the NCAA bubble.  If OSU and SDSU are two of the last teams on the at-large board, will the head-to-head win by the Aztecs be enough?  No one knows for sure, but San Diego State also owns a Top 25 win (Texas A&M), as well as wins over likely NCAA entrants California and BYU.