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TOP 25 WATCH: Missouri Goes 2-1 On the Week

… And receives even less votes in Week 12 (cool, cool)

Mizzou Athletics

After a 2-1 week that saw Missouri try their damndest to take down behemoth Jenna Staiti and the AP no. 15 Bulldogs at home without LaDazhia Williams, then nab convincing wins on the road against Vanderbilt (no. 71 NET currently) and at home against Texas A&M (no. 44 NET), the Tigers remain STUCK on the outside of the new Top 25. As stated last week, it appears the pollsters still would like to see the Tigers win their ranked matchups, and I guess since they didn’t manage the upset against Georgia, they are even less deserving of votes? Who really knows anymore… but we’ll try to make sense of all it anyway.

In Week 12’s poll, the Tigers received just TWO points, a week after receiving 8 (31st) and three weeks removed from receiving their most, 56 (tied for 26th). Despite receiving even less points than the past two weeks, Missouri still finds itself technically ranked the same. The SEC has five ranked teams in the new poll: South Carolina (1), Tennessee (4), LSU (12), and Georgia (15). Kentucky, no. 23 last week, swiftly dropped out of the polls and received NO votes, after two (frankly) embarrassing losses to Florida and Ole Miss at home, which drops them to 1-4 in conference play. It really makes one wonder who they were even ranked in the first place, huh? Missouri now finds itself the second SEC team out of the rankings, behind Florida, who received 12 points and made their first “Others Receiving Votes” appearance, and 91 (!) points behind the no. 25 team, Kansas State.

Only one voter put Missouri in their top-25 rankings this week. Chantel Jennings is the only voter who believed in Mizzou, ranking the Tigers at 24. Huge shout out to Chantel because she obviously can see what the final box score doesn’t.

TOP 25 ANALYSIS

Taking a closer look at the polls, the unranked teams ahead of Mizzou points-wise are very much deserving of the votes. Florida Gulf Coast dropped out of the polls this week, but still received 90 points, after going 2-0 this past week, defeating both Stetson and Jacksonville State convincingly on the road. What more than likely caused FGCU to drop out of the rankings, however, was K State’s dominant 94-65 upset over then no. 14 (now no. 18) Oklahoma. FGCU is definitely on the borderline of the top-25, but this week’s exclusion makes sense.

Before I (Lauren) go on, a quick shout out to Kansas State’s Ayoka Lee, who shattered Rachel Banham’s 60 point NCAA scoring record with 61 points in Sunday’s win over OU.

After ranking no. 20 in last week’s poll, North Carolina dropped out of the rankings, but still received 83 points. The Tar Heels went 1-1 on the week, and while they pulled off a convincing win over a 3-13 Virginia squad, they also had a bad loss to then no. 14 Georgia Tech, 55-38. While the loss wasn’t an upset, per se, the Tarheels just couldn’t get their offense rolling and it was not a showing you’d expect from a top 20 team.

Virginia Tech only received 13 points after going 2-1 last week. The Hokies convincingly beat both Virginia and Pittsburgh, but likely lost out on Top 25 votes due to their 51-45 loss to then no. 3 NC State. Mizzou fans, stop us if this sounds familiar… The team you almost beat moves up in the rankings while you lose votes, despite only losing by two possessions or less. Virginia Tech probably shouldn’t be ranked, but they deserve more points than 13.

Florida’s been an absolute joy to watch in conference play. Seriously, if you have spare time on your hands, watch the Gators because these women are terrorizing some of the SEC’s best teams. Florida walked all over the Wildcats in Lexington, defeating then no. 20 Kentucky, 77-52. After that, they hosted then no. 12 LSU, and defeated the Tigers 73-72 on a last second shot. Again Tiger fans, does this remind you of any particular Mizzou game? Alas, Florida joins Mizzou in the realization that no matter if you beat ranked teams or even get close to them, you probably won’t get the recognition you deserve.

After receiving one less point than Mizzou in Week 11, DePaul passed the Tigers and received four points. The Blue Demons entered week 12 with authority and did not give their opponents any chance to defeat them. DePaul smashed both Butler, 103-69, and Xavier, 94-74, on the road. The only reason we think they might’ve received more points than Mizzou? Well, they demolished their opponents in enemy territory. Otherwise, no other reason pops to mind.

NET RANKINGS

In case you still need explanation of how the NET rankings are tabulated, the NCAA has an article explaining what it is here. NOTE: they still suck, maybe even more so than before

Let’s review. After the non-con, Mizzou found itself ranked no. 49. And after beating the no. 1 team in all the land, South Carolina, Mizzou moved to up to (an absurdly low) 44. From there, they’ve basically hovered around 43-45 daily. As of Monday afternoon, when the AP poll was released, and after the Tigers beat an A&M team who was ahead of them in the NET going in (no. 41 at game time) they had moved to… 43.

Prior to the A&M game, the daily rankings had moved Mizzou to 45, so yes, it’s technically a jump of the smallest proportions, and the Aggies’ loss DID result in them moving behind the Tigers, so… is that progress? Apologies, but we just don’t see it as that, and it just doesn’t seem deserving given what we’re all seeing on the floor.

Why are the Tigers stuck in this mid 40s hole no matter what happens?

WE WANT ANSWERS, just like Jennifer Love Hewitt did in the 1997 classic, I Know What You Did Last Summer

For reference, as of January 24, their opponents’ NET rankings are as follows:

From the chart, we can determine that the best results likely helping Mizzou remain holding Mizzou against its will in the mid-40s in the NET are their Top 100 wins over Texas A&M, Vandy (road), Auburn, and Murray State, close road losses to Top 25 teams Baylor and LSU, and of course, the home upset over top-ranked South Carolina. Taking Baylor and LSU down to the wire on the road is likely a positive in the NET’s algorithm since it seems to have helped them rankings-wise, anyway. And as we’ve mentioned previously (but really, who knows), because teams like Georgia and Arkansas are more highly ranked, the losses may not hinder the Tigers’ rankings too too bad. Meanwhile, the free fall of some of the non-con opponents certainly isn’t helping our fair Tigers, and the Missouri State blowout, even on the road, is looking worse as they too are dropping in the NET (12 spots since our initial watch on 1/10). But basically, y’all, this is all a guessing game.

SEC NET ANALYSIS

Other SEC teams ahead of Missouri in the NET: South Carolina (1), Tennessee (6), LSU (17), Georgia (23), Arkansas (26) and Ole Miss (27)

South Carolina’s appearance atop the NET is pretty obvious; they’re definitely the top team in the nation. NC State, who at one point this past week, actually overtook them, is back to creeping behind and have arguably the toughest schedule in the NCAA.

Tennessee has probably the top performing team in the SEC — don’t tell that to SC fans — and have plowed through the conference with a perfect 7-0 record. Their ranking seems relatively fair when you look at their performance. When the Lady Vols take on South Carolina in about a month, though, the NET could get shaken up a bit.

TO DO LIST FOR MIZZOU: Beat ranked teams
LadyVol_Hoops twitter

LSU’s most notable wins in conference play have been against Georgia and Mizzou. The “Other” Tigers have played well in SEC play, but the majority of their wins were down to the wire. LSU’s high ranking doesn’t make much sense unless you take into account their home loss to South Carolina, win against a then-ranked A&M team, and their win against Georgia in Athens to begin SEC play. Their loss to Florida probably should’ve dropped them lower in the NET, but it didn’t.

The most prominent factor to Georgia’s no. 23 NET ranking is how they’ve performed on the road. They came into Columbia, Mo. and walked away with a 10 point victory last week, and they defeated Mississippi State in Starkville by 3 only to return home to lose to Tennessee. It really seems like the NET takes into account only road game performance, AKA wins and nothing else. Georgia is an example of that.

Arkansas’ no. 28 rank is baffling. Sure, they beat Alabama on the road and Mississippi State at home last week, but both are on the lower end of the SEC NET totem poll. Nothing about their on court performance other than getting wins justifies why they’re above Mizzou in the NET. Is it only because they beat the Tigers?

Ole Miss is a fun school to talk about solely because they’re ranked in the AP top-25 for the first time in 15 years, and their court performance in SEC play shows why they’re deserving of their no. 27 NET ranking. In SEC play, they’re 5-1 with their sole loss at home against Tennessee. After that, they’ve gone on to win four in a row with their most recent 63-64 win against then no. 20 Kentucky in Lexington. Ole Miss has displayed the same grittiness and toughness Mizzou’s displayed this season, except with more favorable results as of now. Undoubtedly, Ole Miss is the co-dark horse of the SEC with Mizzou. Their ranking makes complete sense, but Mizzou should be by them, too.

TOURNEY TALK

Since the NET rankings go to help determine seeds in the NCAA Tournament, let’s continue to check in on Mizzou’s status in the bracket. As of January 21 (re: before the A&M win), ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme moved Missouri to a 9 seed in the Bridgeport region, in the same region of the bracket as his NEW top overall seed, NC State. For reference, last week they were a 7 seed (Bridgeport).

For now, Creme is projecting 8 SEC teams to make the field: South Carolina (1), Tennessee (1), LSU (2), Georgia (3), Ole Miss (6), Mizzou (9), Arkansas (9), and Texas A&M (11- play in game). Kentucky and Mississippi State, who were 9 and 11 seeds a week ago, now find themselves among Creme’s first four teams out. We’ll monitor this going forward as we march forward… to March.

As of January 21, 9am
ESPN.com

RPI TIME / HOW DO WE GET RANKED?

The RPI (real time ratings percentage index) is by far our favorite, and - as mentioned before - seems to be a more accurate picture of teams. If you don’t remember how RPI is configured, visit here. Despite the NCAA’s divorce from the RPI, it is still in use for a different and, in our opinion, more fair determination of rankings.

Currently, Missouri is ranked ninth in the RPI while Week 12 opponents Georgia, Vanderbilt and Texas A&M are ranked 34, 76 and 44, respectively.

So what does Mizzou need to do to squeak into the Top-25, or at least grab some more votes? Keep beating good teams, obviously. The Tigers will get their next chance on Thursday when they take on Mississippi State (no. 64 in NET) in StarkVegas, and then head over to Tuscaloosa to take on Alabama (no. 63 in NET) on Sunday. Perhaps two road game victories will help the voters recognize Mizzou’s talent? One can only hope.

Their grit and ability to stay together is what helped the Tigers go 2-1 last week. The prime example was in the win against Texas A&M (READ THE RECAP). Having LaDazhia Williams back on the floor brought an interior presence that Mizzou desperately needed to get back. Izzy Higginbottom was out all week, which leaves Mizzou without their primary sharpshooter off the bench, but when Mizzou is back to full health, expect the splash they’re making to get even bigger.

It’s still early in SEC play. Continue the support and let’s hope for great showings this week. As always, Lauren will have previews later this week for the next two matchups, and we’ll see you here again next Tuesday.

GO TIGERS!