BYU women’s basketball coach: ‘We can beat anybody’

Cougars coach Jeff Judkins feels his team is just as good as the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee’s first ranking of the top 16 potential tournament teams.

Brigham Young University head coach Jeff Judkins passes the ball during practice for the NCAA women's college basketball tournament on Friday, March 21, 2014, in Los Angeles. BYU is scheduled to play North Carolina State in a first-round game on Saturday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

BYU women’s basketball coach Jeff Judkins has sung the praises of his players all season long. After all, the Cougars are 17-1 (6-0 West Coast Conference), ranked No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll and continue to blow out teams left and right.

But there’s one body that may not consider the Cougars one of the best teams in the country: the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee.

The committee on Thursday released the first of three rankings of the top 16 teams in women’s college basketball. Those 16 teams are the projected 1-4 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. The next rankings are due Feb. 10 and Feb. 28.

The Cougars are nowhere to be found in the top 16. While Judkins, who spoke about the committee’s rankings after the team’s win over Santa Clara, didn’t not seem offended about BYU being left off, he did have some thoughts as to why.

“I think what happens is people think that we’re not in a real strong conference, so maybe we’re not as good as what our record is showing,” Judkins said. “That’s fine. We’ll just keep winning and it’ll get better and eventually they’ll have to make a decision.”

BYU is No. 14 in the NCAA’s NET ranking, which is one of the main measures used to determine tournament seeding. ESPN’s most recent bracket projections say BYU “should make the top 16,” and has it competing as a No. 3 seed.

Judkins, though, said that even if the committee decides to, for example, put BYU at the fifth seed, no team will want to face the Cougars in the tournament. He added that he has tried to schedule games in the past against teams played ahead of his in the rankings, but they have always declined.

But Judkins stressed that the committee’s projections don’t matter. He believes in his team.

“I’m going to be blunt with you: I don’t know that there’s a team that I’ve seen — and I’ve watched a lot of games — that we can’t beat if we play our game,” Judkins said. “And that’s including South Carolina, anybody. If we play our game, we can beat anybody.”

South Carolina was placed at the No. 1 spot in the committee’s top 16 ranking.