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WSU Women’s path to seeding: Part 1

Two games left, where will WSU finish amongst the Conference of Champions?

Ashley Davis

The Washington State Cougars women’s basketball team will wrap up yet another historic regular season this weekend with two games down in Southern California. First up, will be the UCLA Bruins on Thursday before the regular season finale against the USC Trojans on Saturday.

WSU has built an impressive resume thus far with wins over the likes of; South Dakota State (40th in NET rankings), Arizona (22nd) and Oregon twice (25th). The Cougs have a chance to build on that resume with a solid showing in Las Vegas next weekend for the Pac-12 Tournament.

As things currently stand, the Cougars are seventh in the Pac-12 with a conference record of an even 8-8.

With there being two games left, there is not enough time to catch Arizona in fourth or fall below Oregon in ninth. This leaves WSU finishing anywhere from fifth to eighth in the conference. The difference between the two seeds could be quite drastic for the Cougars. As a No. 8 seed, should the Cougars survive their first-round matchup, they would likely have to square off against the juggernaut Stanford Cardinal. However, a five-seed gives the Cougars a more favorable matchup in the second round, should they get past Arizona State.

The Pac-12 schedule makers have created a dream scenario for seeding games. The biggest game being a possible Pac-12 regular season championship between Stanford and Utah on Saturday. As it pertains to WSU’s seeding, the only games that will directly affect the Cougars will be the ones played in Southern California. Washington is the only team currently below WSU that can pass the Cougars, while the Bruins and Trojans are the only teams WSU can pass if things go perfectly.

Scenario 1: WSU sweeps the Southern California schools

Ashley Davis

Everything goes perfect on WSU’s side. The Cougars roll into Pauley Pavilion and defeat the Bruins with Charlisse Leger-Walker this time around. They then ride the momentum into a perfect road sweep of SoCal and beat the USC Trojans. This launches WSU into a 10-8 conference record.

We now have to backtrack to the results of the prior game played by USC against Washington Thursday night. If USC lost that game, the Trojans would finish with a 9-9 conference record and the Cougars would easily leap the Trojans. Now back to Saturday’s contests. After WSU defeats USC, they would need to check the score of the ongoing Washington-UCLA game. If UCLA loses, the Bruins drop to 10-8 and end up in a tie with WSU.

With both teams finishing at 10-8 and splitting the season series at 1-1, the Pac-12 tiebreaker would come into effect. Below is the description from the Pac-12 website:

Moving down the conference standings, Arizona would be the difference maker as the Cougars defeated the Wildcats this season and the Bruins lost in overtime. This gives WSU the five-seed.

That’s right folks. WSU’s seeding hopes will hinge on the successes and failures of the rival Washington Huskies this weekend.

Don’t want to root for Washington? I don’t blame you. But there’s some major fallout for WSU if UW loses one, or both, of their weekend games.

Should UW lose to USC on Thursday, but beat UCLA Saturday, it will create a three-way tie between the Cougars, Trojans, and Bruins at 10-8 all around. The tiebreaker rules for a multiple-team tie in the standings ask for the best collective win-loss percentage between the teams. The results would be:

UCLA 3-1 (.750)

WSU 2-2 (.500)

USC 1-3 (.250)

This means UCLA would be the five seed, WSU six, and USC as the seventh seed.

Vice versa would be even worse for WSU. If Washington defeated USC on Thursday, but lost to the Bruins Saturday, the Cougars and Trojans would be locked in a 10-8 tie alone while UCLA finishes a game above them at 11-7. The Trojans would own the tiebreaker in this case, thanks to their upset win against Stanford, giving them the highest win percentage against the higher-ranked team in the Pac-12. WSU would still finish seventh despite winning both games and getting some help from Washington early in the week. The seeding would remain the same

WSU also finishes seventh if Washington loses both games.

To sum it up:

Should WSU go 2-0:

5 seed: With Washington wins over UCLA and USC.

6 seed: With Washington win over UCLA, loss to USC.

7 seed: With Washington loss to UCLA.

Scenario 2: WSU defeats UCLA, loses to USC

Ashley Davis

The Cougars defeat the Bruins, but run out of gas against the Trojans and fall short of a perfect sweep. This could spell trouble for the Cougars.

USC and Washington are the only two teams to defeat Stanford, the highest-ranked team in the Pac-12. This gives the Trojans and Huskies basically the game-over card when it comes to any tiebreaker scenarios.

So WSU finishes the season 9-9 with their win over UCLA and loss to USC. If Washington gets the sweep Kamie Ethridge’s crew was looking for, the Bruins and Trojans both finish 10-8, the Huskies and Cougars finish 9-9. Thanks to the Huskies enormous upset of the Cardinal, the Huskies jump WSU and the Cougars finish as the eight-seed. UCLA and USC would finish as the fifth and sixth seeds respectively.

If Washington also wins Thursday (against USC) and loses Saturday (against UCLA), the standings stay put. WSU finishes as the seventh seed behind the Southern Cal schools, same result stands in the event of Washington being swept.

To sum it up:

If WSU beats UCLA, but loses to USC:

7 seed: If Washington goes 1-1 or worse

8 seed: If Washington goes 2-0

Scenario 3: WSU loses to UCLA, defeats USC

Ashley Davis

By now, you probably have a good sense of the tiebreakers. To recap, WSU owns the tiebreaker head-to-head over UCLA (due to the Arizona win), comes in second in a three-way tie with USC and UCLA and the Trojans and Huskies own the tiebreaker over WSU.

We have also had to come to terms that any hope for a five seed, the highest WSU can grab, will have to weigh on Washington winning their games. But WSU not completing the sweep and Washington getting the sweep, spells bad news for the Cougars. This carries over into Saturday's contests.

The Cougars will have to do some scoreboard-watching on Saturday if they fall to UCLA on Thursday. If the Cougars find out after their victory against the Trojans that the Huskies also beat the Bruins, the Cougars will be pushed down to the eight-seed. The Trojans, Huskies, and Cougars will all have finished 9-9. Going to the first tiebreaker, each team will have finished 1-1 against the other. Moving to the second tiebreaker, the Stanford win card for the Trojans and Huskies will be applied and WSU falls to eighth. USC would get the edge over the Huskies for the six-seed with their win over Colorado separating them.

Once again, if Washington splits the weekend in either direction or fails to pick up a win, the Cougars will still finish as the seven seed.

To sum it up:

7 seed: If Washington goes 1-1 or worse

8 seed: If Washington goes 2-0

Scenario 4: Cougars get swept

Ashley Davis

Should the Cougars come up empty-handed in Southern Cal, they will desperately need the same schools that just beat them to completely sweep the entire state of Washington by beating the Huskies as well. Any scenario in which the Huskies win a game bounces WSU down to the eight-seed if they lose out in Southern California.

To sum it up:

7 seed: If Washington goes 0-2

8 seed: If Washington goes 1-1 or better

The path will begin to narrow down after the games on Thursday. Check back Friday for a clearer picture of what WSU will need to do Saturday to clinch whatever seed they are still playing for and who they will likely see in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament.