There was a Miller Lite ad way back in 2011 that provided us with one of the best words of the century: “traveshamockery”. It is used to describe something that is a tragedy, a sham, and a mockery all at once.
That my friends, is the only word that can be used to describe TCU Women’s Basketball STILL being unranked as we head into the last few weeks of the regular season.
The AP Poll released Monday, and the Horned Frogs were closer than ever to hitting the top 25, coming in first in the “receiving votes” category after defeating a frisky Iowa State team Sunday at Schollmaier Arena. The victory put the Frogs at 18-5 on the year and 9-3 in Big 12 play, good enough for a two game stranglehold on second place in the conference. They trail Baylor by three games in the standings, but are one of just two teams to come within single-digits of the no. 2 Bears in the Big 12 this year. They beat third place Texas in Austin already this season and have a chance to sweep the Longhorns for the first time ever when Texas comes to town next week. Outside of two losses to the Bears, the Frogs have only been upended by Texas Tech in conference play (a bad loss, yes), by the no. 11 Aggies in College Station (a game that came down to the final moments), and to a decent MTSU squad on their home floor.
TCU is #19 in the latest RPI update, second best mark in the Big 12 — a conference that has the country’s third-highest RPI nationally but somehow just one ranked team. They have eight top 100 RPI wins and only one loss to a program outside of it. Plus, they have the country’s 23rd best strength of schedule rating.
They’re good. They’re really good. So what gives?
After her team’s 82-72 victory over Iowa State, Raegan Pebley said “You really probably need to ask the voters what’s going on with that. We also have [six] teams in the Top 50 RPI. We’re one of the only power-five leagues you play everybody home and away twice. To have to do that is grueling. Maybe it’s a lack of education or a lack of respect, I don’t know, but I do know there is a lot of statistical information that shows our league is one of the top two or top three in the country.”
The Frogs have a top five scorer in the conference in Lauren Heard (17.36 ppg), the league’s most prolific thief in Kianna Ray (2.36 steals per), and a legit threat from long range in Jaycee Bradley, who makes nearly 2.5 three pointers per game. They won’t blow you away statistically as a team — they’re a middle of the pack unit on both offense and defense, but shoot the lights out from three while allowing the second-fewest makes of anyone in the league. They lead the league in steals and have the second best offensive rebounding margin — a symbol of their aggressive style of play on both ends of the floor. They do more than enough to win games, and they have won A LOT of games.
It goes without saying that TCU will have their opportunities down the stretch to earn their keep — the Frogs get Oklahoma State, Texas, and Oklahoma at home and will have tough road tests at Kansas State, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. They have a real shot to earn the two seed in the Big 12 tourney which would give them an excellent shot to make it to the conference championship game.
Current bracketology has the Frogs slated as a seven seed, and frankly, they should be a five based on their RPI. Will they? Pebley doesn’t seem worried. “We’ve worked hard and we’ve earned where we’re at right now and we don’t want to let go of it easily, but we’re also playing for things bigger than that No. 2 spot. The Big 12 is at least a five-team postseason tournament team, so it’s super important we’re valuing every single game.”
The Frogs face Kansas State in the Little Apple Wednesday night in what is sure to be another physical, challenging game. They’ll attack that like the underdogs they continue to be.