WSU climbs to No. 18 in new AP Top 25, rising one spot from previous poll

Mar. 4—PULLMAN — Washington State just keeps ascending.

The Cougars checked in at No. 18 in the new AP Top 25, released Monday, jumping one spot from last week's poll. It's the highest ranking since February 2008 for WSU, which topped USC and UCLA last weekend in two come-from-behind victories.

AP rankings don't have a direct correlation to NCAA Tournament seeding, but it might help WSU, which is in line for its first tournament bid since 2008. The Cougs (23-7, 14-5 Pac-12) are slotted for a 5 or 6 seed, according to most national projections. They are one-half game back of Arizona for first place in the Pac-12.

This year's NCAA Tournament selection committee includes Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes, whose Beavers are the other Pac-12 school left standing after the other 10 bolted for other conferences. Barnes is a native of Spokane, a first/second round site for the NCAA Tournament — a real possibility for WSU. The Cougs will likely need to earn a 4 or 5 seed to land in Spokane.

In this week's AP Top 25, WSU received one vote apiece at No. 9 and No. 12, plus two at No. 13 and three at No. 14. The most popular spot was No. 19, where 14 voters tabbed the Cougs. One voter left them off their ballot entirely.

WSU, which has now appeared in the AP Top 25 for three straight weeks, closes the regular season Thursday at home against rival Washington. With a win, the Cougs would set a program record for most conference wins in a single season.

The Cougars will then move on to the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas, where they have earned a first-round bye, securing a top-four seed. Their first game will come on March 14 at T-Mobile Arena.