Grade: (B) – Another club who’s hard to judge based on their work thus far. Victories over Cal State Northridge, Nebraska, and SMU are all nice, but there’s no real trademark win to tout. Have played one big time team, Long Beach State, and they lost, though it was a hard fought and close encounter.
Current RPI – 29
Top Scorer – Dana Larsen (6 G, 1 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – They’ve got a pretty good chance considering their RPI is where it is right now, and they aren’t exactly playing in the most difficult league in the nation. But they also don’t have anything to put them over the top from non-conference play, meaning the Bears might want to avoid too many slips in Big XII play.
Grade: (B-) – Despite that lofty RPI, the Cyclones aren’t really fooling anybody. They’ve got just a single win against a uRPI Top 100 team, and have four wins against teams ranked #190 or below in the uRPI. So why the high-ish marks? Well, they’ve at least managed to look competitive against the top teams they’ve played, and that’s something.
Current RPI – 69
Top Scorer – Jennifer Dominguez (6 G, 0 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – While their RPI gives them a chance at this point, there’s just not a lot of heft from the seven wins on their record thus far. There’s not a lot of huge opportunities to mark up ground in one fell swoop in the league either, meaning ISU might have to make an improbably climb up the Big XII ladder to crack the NCAA Tournament.
Grade: (C+) – It’s hard to envision too many teams in America being harder to grade than the Jayhawks right now. KU hasn’t played a single elite team and may not have even played an NCAA Tournament team as of yet. Losses to Northwestern and Denver raise some serious questions, as does the continued absence of Ingrid Vidal and Liana Salazar.
Current RPI – 38
Top Scorer – Caroline Kastor (7 G, 2 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Win over Georgia might help if the Jayhawks are in a bubble battle, but there’s not really much else on the slate that figures to help them. KU’s going to have to do well in Big XII play to get into the field, perhaps needing to finish as high as third given how weak the league looks this year. They do have an ace up their sleeve in a non-conference game at Wake Forest later on, but that’ll only matter if they can score an upset.
Grade: (C+) – As you might expect with a team under new management, Oklahoma’s been all over the map to begin the 2012 season. I thought they might have an outside shot at an at-large bid at the beginning of the season, but losses to Oral Roberts and UNLV pretty much ended those plans. There have been glimmers of potential though, such as wins over Oklahoma State and Nebraska.
Current RPI – 123
Top Scorer – Renae Cuellar (6 G, 1 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Sooners picked the wrong year to try and hang their hat on a win over Oklahoma State. That win should still count for a little, but it’s not the big win the club needs if they’re on the bubble. Dodgy results elsewhere have tanked their RPI, and it doesn’t seem like they have the consistency to have the type of league season they’ll need to get in the at-large conversation.
Grade: (B-) – There’s just a single blemish on OSU’s record, but it’s a big one, the shocking loss at Oklahoma in a non-conference match. The Cowgirls’ resume isn’t exactly impressive, with four wins over teams below #200 in the uRPI and just one win over a club in the uRPI Top 60. While OSU’s most definitely a good team, how good will be in question until they play an elite team…which probably won’t come until the NCAA Tournament.
Current RPI – 52
Top Scorer – Megan Marchesano (6 G, 2 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – OSU’s 9-1-0 and very much on the bubble, which should show you how weak their non-conference schedule has been. The win over Memphis is tops on their resume at the moment, but with the Tigers looking more like a bubble team right now, who knows how far that will carry the Cowgirls. Like just about every team here, OSU needs a conference campaign without too many slips.
Grade: (B) – I didn’t expect the Horned Frogs to be good at all, but a bizarre home defeat to Nevada aside, they’ve been decent. The only real notable win has been against North Texas, but considering how hard is is to beat the Mean Green in Denton, that win shouldn’t be overlooked. They haven’t really played any elite teams though, which means it could be a bit of a wakeup call in league play.
Current RPI – 107
Top Scorer – Makenzie Koch (2 G, 4 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Not great. Their best win is over an above average North Texas team, meaning they’d have to go on a big winning binge in the league to rise high enough in the RPI. Given the composition of this team, that doesn’t seem too likely.
Grade: © – Beating the likes of Dayton, Toledo, and Fresno State would normally seem like old hat for a program like Texas. It’s really all they’ve got to hold their hat on thus far though, in a difficult season. And even those wins aren’t really much to shout about, with all three of those clubs experiencing down years. Losses to Virginia and BYU among others were expected, but defeats to the likes of Arkansas, NC State, and New Mexico hasn’t made for a happy season in Austin.
Current RPI – 151
Top Scorer – Kristin Cummins (3 G, 3 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Well, besides the brutal RPI, they’re also three games under .500 at the moment, essentially meaning they have to win almost all of their remaining league games to just get eligible. Given their rocky form throughout this season, that’s probably not going to happen.
Grade: (B+) – Oh, how much perceptions can change with one win. The Red Raiders looked to be on a slow road to disappointment again after blowing opportunities to pick up big wins against Ole Miss and Auburn. Facing a must win game against Long Beach State, TTU buckled down and scored a huge 3-2 victory that breathed new life into their campaign. Their NCAA Tournament spot isn’t a given by any means, but they took forward a big step last weekend.
Current RPI – 32
Top Scorer – Janine Beckie (6 G, 2 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – Crazily enough, Texas Tech may have the best chance of anyone in this league of going dancing. The win over Long Beach State could carry them a long way come November and more than makes up for missed opportunities against Auburn and Ole Miss. They still need to take care of business in the Big XII, but their margin for error is a lot better than some of their conference rivals.
Grade: (C+) – Honestly, is there a more frustrating team out there right now? The Mountaineers looked to have turned a corner after a rough start with their win over Stanford, but draws with Duquesne and Purdue raised more questions after previous losses to La Salle and Central Michigan had confounded. There’s really nothing on the resume besides the Stanford win, but WVU still has the potential to win the Big XII, though they’ll need to find some consistency to do so.
Current RPI – 102
Top Scorer – Kate Schwindel (7 G, 4 A)
NCAA Tournament Prospects – The win over Stanford basically means all they have to do is get on the bubble to get in in all likelihood. That’s far from a given at this point though considering they aren’t even in the RPI Top 100 right now. The Mountaineers don’t have much room to absorb losses at this point, meaning they’re going to have to be a lot more consistent than they have been in the opening weeks of the season.
Preseason Predicted Order of Finish:
1. West Virginia
2. Oklahoma State
5. Texas Tech
8. Iowa State
Current Predicted Order of Finish:
1. Oklahoma State
3. West Virginia
4. Texas Tech
8. Iowa State