WSU checks in at No. 22 in new AP Top 25, dropping four spots from previous poll

Mar. 11—PULLMAN — Washington State is still a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but the program's national ranking has taken a hit.

The Cougars checked in at No. 22 in the new AP Top 25, released Monday, dropping four spots from last week's poll thanks to a home loss to rival Washington. In a 74-68 defeat, WSU took a Quad 2 setback, a slight blemish on its resume.

It's the fourth straight week appearing in the rankings for Washington State (23-8, 14-6 Pac-12), which gets the No. 2 seed at this week's Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, playing the winner of No. 7 California and No. 10 Stanford on Thursday evening. That game is set for a 6 p.m. tip-off on the Pac-12 Network.

The Cougs, who will snap a 16-year NCAA Tournament drought come next week's Selection Sunday, received one vote apiece at each of these spots: Nos. 14, 15, 16, 17 and 18. Their most popular spots were Nos. 20 and 21, where they received nine votes apiece, while 16 voters left them off their ballots.

At this point in the season, that comes secondary to WSU, which is projected to earn around a 6 or 7 seed in most national predictions. The Cougs are on the 7 line according to T3 Bracketology, JBR Bracketology and CBS Bracketology, the last of which sees WSU playing in Indianapolis.

ESPN Bracketology, also updated Monday, projects the Cougars to earn a 6 seed and land at the Memphis site.

WSU likely has work to do to play at the Spokane site, which is set to host two 4/13 and 5/12 games each. The Cougars were in line to land there, but thanks to their loss to the Huskies in last week's regular-season finale, they will probably need to win some games at the conference tournament this week to regain the opportunity.

Other potential locations for WSU include Omaha (7/10, 2/15, 6/11, 3/14 games) and Salt Lake City (7/10, 2/15, 5/12, 4/13 games). In theory, the Cougs could get sent to sites like Pittsburgh or Brooklyn, but even if they lose their Pac-12 Tournament opener, it seems unlikely considering the geographical distance.

Generally speaking, the NCAA Tournament selection committee tries to keep teams closer than not to their campus locations, especially schools that have earned a higher seed. The Cougars have likely already done so, but they can strengthen their case by beating the Golden Bears or Cardinal (3-1 against those teams this season), then winning a semifinal game, which would be against No. 3 Colorado, No. 6 Utah or No. 11 Arizona State.