Checking in on WSU's NCAA tournament path(s)

The wins over USC and Arizona provided a boost, but there's work to do.

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Good afternoon! With the Cougs picking up a pair of massive victories this week to legitimately get back into the NCAA tournament bubble conversation, I’m gonna ride this wave of Good Vibes as long as I can and dream as big as my limited imagination will allow.

That means checking in on what the Cougs will need to do the rest of the way to potentially earn NCAA tournament selection.

Following Saturday’s victory over Arizona — which moved WSU to 12-5 overall and 3-3 in the Pac-12 — the Cougs are sure to move onto some watch lists for at large selection to the Dance. They were on Joe Lunardi’s “considering” list before Saturday’s game, so it stands to reason they’ll be looked at even more seriously when he updates his Bracketology (probably on Tuesday).

From an algorithmic perspective, barttorvik.com now projects the Cougs to have a 22% chance of at-large selection — which, again, is pretty much right back where they were heading into conference play. We’re going to go ahead a lean on Torvik’s computer again to look at what various results might do for the Cougs heading forward; if you want to review his methodology, you can do that here.

Route 1: Optimistic but reasonable results

via barttorvik.com

This is 10-4 the rest of the way and none of it seems crazy — undefeated in seven games at home (WSU would be favored in six of them at the moment) and 3-4 on the road. You’ll finish 22-9 and 13-7 with three Quad 1 victories, which leads torvik to this projection:

If you think that’s not really doable, even a loss to Utah at home in that scenario still leaves WSU in the mix as one of the last four in — although I really don’t like the idea of heading into Selection Sunday with just two Quad 1 victories against seven losses.

Route 2: Big wins, dumb losses

Once again, let’s stretch this thing a little, because we know we’re going to stub our toes. Here’s a combo that still gets us in the conversation:

via barttorvik.com

Getting swept by Stanford, losing on the road to ASU and Oregon and at home to UCLA? But offsetting that by beating both Utah and Colorado at home and finishing off a sweep of Arizona on the road? That’s 21-10, 12-8, and gets you this:

Honestly, I think if you do this you’re a lock for the tournament. You’ve got four Quad 1 wins, including two against a team that’s probably going to end up as the conference champ and a 1 or 2 seed.

Route 3: Just win them all

OK, I just wanted to have a little fun. What if we win out?

Let’s just do that.

Go Cougs.

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