Can USF women's basketball make Top 25 debut?
This week's Top 25 polls will be out in the next few hours, and after beating two ranked opponents in the past week, USF's women's basketball team has a chance to be ranked for the first time in the program's history.
How realistic is it for the Bulls (19-7, 8-5 in Big East) to be ranked? USF wasn't getting any votes in either the Associated Press or ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll last week, but many of the teams the Bulls are competing with had rough weeks that could make them drop. How much weight will wins against Louisville -- No. 12 in the AP -- and No. 21 Syracuse carry with balloters?
As we tweeted on Sunday, USF is one of 17 teams nationally with two wins against teams in this past week's AP Top 25 -- of those 17, 13 were ranked last week, the others being USF (19-7), Iowa (17-10), LSU (17-10) and Illinois (16-10). We don't know exactly where USF will fall in the new RPI ratings, but they're at 58 in RealTimeRPI's ratings -- that's lower than nearly all the teams that earned top-25 votes last week.
The teams at the bottom of the polls are helping USF out -- three teams ranked near the bottom of the poll lost to teams that were dead-last in their conference standings. No. 20 Florida State, having already lost to No. 5 Duke this week, lost by 19 to a Virginia Tech team that is just 9-18; No. 22 Purdue lost to Indiana, which was last in the Big Ten and 11-16 overall; No. 23 Oklahoma State lost to a TCU team that is now 1-14 in the Big 12 and 8-18 overall.
In addition, three of the top five teams in "also receiving votes" took losses this week -- Michigan lost to two ranked teams, Oklahoma lost to a ranked Oklahoma State team and Washington lost twice, including one to an unranked Utah team. Kansas, which is third in ARV for the coaches' poll, lost to a 10-16 Texas team as well as Texas Tech. The best off-the-radar competition to enter the poll might be LSU, which got a big win at No. 8 Kentucky on Sunday.
Will this add up to a national ranking? Bulls fans will know within hours. USF might have a better shot in the coaches' poll, which had higher opinions of both Louisville (11, instead of 12) and Syracuse (18, instead of 21) than the AP poll. The larger goal, of course, is making the NCAA Tournament for just the second time in the program's history -- while ESPN's "Bracketology" hasn't been updated in a week, one blog --Collegesportsmadness.com -- not only has USF in its projected NCAA field, but in as a No. 7 seed no less.