Entering a weekend date with No. 9 Kansas, West Virginia sits at 13-2, but has yet to make an appearance in the top 25 so far. The Mountaineers have quality wins over UConn and UAB, but have only been able to receive vote points in the polls.
For a team to not be ranked at 13-2 is a rare occasion, no matter what your competition is. But thinking about West Virginia’s current situation has to be even rarer.
WVU was ranked in every single poll last season, wire-to-wire they appeared in the top 25 every week. After losing pieces like Deuce McBride and Derek Culver, it made sense why West Virginia wasn’t ranked at the beginning of this season. For a team that was ranked the entirety of last season and to still not be ranked after going 13-2, that just doesn’t happen.
So, I did some research. I took WVU’s record in the last poll voting, which was 12-2 before their win over Oklahoma State, and tried to find other teams that had this same situation
What teams have started 12-2 and never appeared in the AP poll in that span, after appearing in every poll the season prior?
West Virginia is 1-of-2 teams since 2010 to do so.
2018-19 Cincinnati Bearcats
Yes, there has only been one other team since 2010 to share this stat with this year’s West Virginia team. In 2017-18, the Cincinnati Bearcats went 31-5, appearing in every poll released by the Associated Press that season. The Bearcats earned a 2-seed in the NCAA Tournament, losing in the round of 32. After Mick Cronin lost starters Gary Clark, Jacob Evans and Kyle Washington, UC was not ranked coming into the 2018-19 season.
After 14 games, the Bearcats sat at 12-2, without appearing once in the top 25. Cincinnati had quality wins at the time over Xavier, UCLA, Ole Miss and UNLV. It wasn’t until February 4, 2019, that the Bearcats were ranked, sitting at No. 25 with a 19-3 record.
Cincinnati went on to win the American Athletic Conference Tournament, earning a No. 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament. UC lost in the first round to Iowa.
WVU and UC have very similar situations here. Both earned top 25 honors for an entire season, earning high seeds in their respective NCAA Tournaments. Both lost second round, lost key starters to the NBA and each having a draft pick — WVU with McBride and UC with Evans. Both were unranked to begin the next season, earning quality wins and sitting at 12-2 looking from the outside of the AP poll.
Maybe the pollsters know something that West Virginia fans don’t, but if the Mountaineers are able to take down Kansas on the road, there should be no reason to leaving them out again.