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Missouri Narrowly Misses Top-25 Despite Historic Win

It’s been a few days and I still can’t believe my eyes

Mizzou Tigers vs. South Carolina Gamecocks at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, MO. on Thursday, December 30, 2021.
Hunter Dyke/Mizzou Athletics

Okay y’all, I needed a day or two to process this information. Like all of you, I am beyond upset that Mizzou isn’t ranked. How do you go from defeating the no. 1 team in the nation to being tied for 26th with 53 points in the new AP rankings? It’s something I don’t, and probably never will, understand. AP, make it make sense!

Now Mizzou Nation, I know I will ruffle some feathers with what I’m about to say. And believe me, this is hard to say given my feelings for that school and their coach. I do believe South Carolina is still rightfully ranked no. 1; I am not mad about that. In the game prior to the Missouri matchup, the Gamecocks closed their non-conference play by defeating no. 2 Stanford. So, having Stanford surpass South Carolina just wouldn’t make sense. What I do believe, however, is South Carolina deserved to receive some repercussions for their defeat.

In Week 8’s poll, the Gamecocks received a unanimous 30 first place votes for a total of 750 points. In this week’s poll, they received 22 first place votes for a total of 737 points. Dropping eight first place votes might not seem like much to lose, but that is a fair repercussion.

There is one voter in particular I feel the need to talk about, though. ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel did not place Mizzou anywhere in her top-25. She is a Mizzou alum, but that’s besides the point. That little tidbit obviously shouldn’t factor into her votes and expecting that is beyond unfair. Remember, these are supposed to be unbiased.

But what irks me the most, though, and I’m sure others who saw it too (Karen wrote about it in the links just this morning), is Voepel praised Mizzou in her power rankings story. She gave Mizzou her coveted “Win of the Week” and Coach P the “Coach of the Week”. Apparently, those accolades weren’t enough to get her to rank Mizzou? I just wish she’d explain the reasoning behind her rankings, but the majority of voters — Mechelle included — do not do this.

Now let’s get to the NET and RPI rankings.

I heavily despise the NET rankings with a burning, fiery passion. When it was implemented for college basketball during the 2018-2019 season, people erupted on twitter and still do to this day. It’s quite a confusing system and is truly hard to comprehend. The NCAA has an article explaining what the NET is here.

After non-conference play, South Carolina was ranked first while Mizzou stood at 49th. Part of that is on the Tigers’ strength of non-conference schedule (or really, the weakness of it), but it still doesn’t add up to me or many other fans.

For reference, as of January 5, their opponents’ NET rankings are as follows:

The best results that likely helped Mizzou move up were their wins against Murray State, Troy, Columbia (neutral site), Lehigh (because it was on the road) loss to Baylor, and of course, the South Carolina upset. Bringing Baylor down to the wire is a positive in the NET’s algorithm mainly because it was an away game against a good team. When all is said and done, because MO State is highly ranked and was a road game, it may not hinder the Tigers’ rankings too too bad.

As of January 4, the first rankings release since the win, South Carolina maintained their first place ranking while Mizzou jumped to 44th. Was the five spot jump due to playing at home? Probably. But even then, defeating the top team in the nation, no matter where the game is played, should qualify for more of a rise in the rankings, regardless of who they’ve played. IT’S THE NUMBER ONE TEAM IN THE COUNTRY, Y’ALL.

The RPI is by far my favorite. The NCAA stopped using RPI before the 2020-2021 season and fans blew up. RPI takes into account three factors: Division 1 winning percentage, opponents D1 winning percentage/strength of schedule (not including the results), and the team’s opponents’ opponents win percentage/strength of schedule (again excluding results). No, the double opponents is not a typo. You can read more about the RPI algorithm here. So basically, it looks at a team’s win percentage, how your opponents have done and their SOS, and how your opponents’ opponents SOS.

Despite the NCAA’s divorce from the RPI, it is still in use for a different and, in my opinion, more fair determination of rankings.

Pre-SEC play, South Carolina was at the top of RPI while Mizzou was 21st. This is fair, considering who the Tigers had played. As of January 4, South Carolina maintained their status at the top while Mizzou jumped to eighth place. Now that’s more like it. Because South Carolina has played a murderers’ row of a schedule, that helped Mizzou.

So what does Mizzou need to do to squeak into the Top-25? Do they need to defeat Auburn in a convincing way? Auburn, by the way, has a current NET ranking of 86, which would be the Tigers’ second best home win should they pull it off. Do they need to throw the rest of the conference schedule away and play South Carolina every week? I kid. I wish I had the answer, though, as it just doesn’t make sense how they’re still not ranked.

What I can say for sure though, is this team is resilient. They’re fighters who never give up when facing adversity. They beat South Carolina on a rotation of SEVEN, remember. Mizzou Nation, be proud of our women and continue supporting them. Great things are bound to continue happening.