Eye on the Y: Why isn’t women’s basketball ranked higher by NCAA committee, AP?

The Cougars have just two losses overall, but they are ranked lower than some teams with more losses.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU guard Maria Albiero (5) leads a fast break for the Cougars, in women's basketball action between the BYU Cougars and the Pepperdine Waves, at the Marriott Center in Provo, on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. Judkins scored his 450th win tonight.

The BYU women’s basketball team is on a roll.

After dropping a game to Portland on the road earlier this month, the Cougars have notched two big wins over Gonzaga and are riding a five-game winning streak overall. On Monday, they rose to No. 19 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll after being 20th for two straight weeks.

BYU currently has a 23-2 overall record. In the West Coast Conference, it’s 13-1 — that loss to Portland being on the only blemish. The team has completed two consecutive seasons of undefeated records at home, and holds a 30-game win streak in the Marriott Center.

But just based on this season alone, it’s difficult to imagine a world in which the Cougars don’t just win the upcoming WCC Tournament, but also make some noise in the NCAA Tournament.

It begs the question: Why aren’t the Cougars projected higher in the NCAA Tournament landscape, or ranked higher nationally?

South Carolina (25-1) is No. 1 in the AP Poll, as well as in the latest iteration of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Committee’s ranking of the top 16 teams. Under the Gamecocks in both of those lists is Stanford (23-3), North Carolina State (25-3) and Louisville (23-3). All four of those teams are projected as No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, an enviable position when it comes to how far top seeds tend to go in the competition.

The Cougars, at 23-2, have one fewer loss than the three teams under South Carolina. The WCC, on the women’s side, does have a relatively weak field, though. So two losses versus three could be negligible.

But BYU doesn’t seem to be in any top 16 conversations from the NCAA committee’s side of things. The Cougars, as of Monday, are No. 9 in the NCAA’s NET rankings. That is above Michigan, Iowa State and even Oregon, which is No. 16 in the committee’s top 16.

Could it be just that the committee, and the AP as well, thinks the WCC is so weak that the Cougars have had a cakewalk so far this season? And even if that’s the case, doesn’t the way the Cougars win hold some weight in this discussion?

It’s a situation that has baffled coach Jeff Judkins, saying earlier this month that he believes BYU can “beat anybody” in women’s college basketball. And with just two games left against teams the Cougars should beat, it will be interesting to see if there’s any movement in the eyes of the committee.

Quick hits

• BYU men’s basketball likely made history by starting a lineup with four Black players and no members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

• The football team kept Arkansas on its schedule despite having to reshuffle future schedules as it prepares to enter the Big 12.

• The women’s basketball team won their 30th straight home game, while the men missed an opportunity against Saint Mary’s.

• Meet the men who practice against the women’s basketball team every day.

• The school ended its requirement of proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative tests to enter large indoor events, including sports.

Other voices

• Former BYU soccer player Ashley Hatch scores for the U.S. women’s national team, via Deseret News.

• Andy Reid is scheduled to speak at a BYU football coaches’ clinic in March, via KSL Sports.

• A roundup of other sports at BYU, via the Daily Herald.