Lady Raiders claim top spot

The Lady Raiders moved to the top of the Coaches' poll thanks to their undefeated record and Duke's victory over Connecticut. This marks the first time that the Lady Raiders have been ranked first in either poll during the regular season. Texas Tech fell just thirteen points short of top ranked Duke in the AP poll.

There has been much debate since Saturday about who deserved the number one spot in the polls. Most of this debate focused on either Texas Tech or Texas taking the top spot, but in the end Duke leapfrogged Texas in both polls, and moved all the way to first place in the AP poll. Much of this move may have to do with the timing of Duke's victory which came just one day before the pollsters had to vote. The timing coupled with a nationally televised game was enough to propel Duke to the Top of the AP poll. Even with their move to the top, Duke only garnered 20 first place votes, the same number as the Lady Raiders. The Coaches' poll wasn't as easily influenced by a single game, and they gave the Lady Raiders 27 of 40 first place votes, making Texas Tech the clear number one.

The Lady Raiders have earned their position by putting together one of the best non-conference resumes in the country. Their 14-0 record is certainly impressive, but there is more to it than just the wins. Those fourteen wins have come in an impressive fashion, with only four games decided by less than 20 points. Those wins also include victories over #7 Stanford, UCSB, Cal, Washington, and Rutgers. What looked to some like an overly easy non-conference schedule before the season started is currently ranked as the 31st toughest schedule by Collegerpi.com's rankings.

While a number one ranking is certainly a nice honor, the fact is that January rankings mean very little in the grand scheme of things. What is important right now is that the Lady Raiders can make a very strong case for being the best team in the country before they start conference play. Texas Tech will be forced to play against the toughest conference in the country. Teams like UConn, Duke and Tennessee have virtual cakewalks compared to the schedule that Texas Tech and Texas must face. Conference play will increase the Lady Raiders' strength of schedule relative to teams in weaker conferences. All of this adds up to a probable number one seed for the Lady Raiders if they can win the Big Twelve. While that certainly won't be an easy task, this team is certainly capable of it of walking away with the Big Twelve title in March. If that happens, the selection committee will look at Texas Tech and see a team that not only won the toughest conference in the nation, but also had an outstanding performance before conference play started. Of course there are a couple of obstacles in the way to that number one seed. The biggest will be the Super Bowl Sunday game in Austin against the Lady Longhorns. If the Lady Raiders can come away victorious, they will be well on their way to a Big Twelve title, and a #1 seed come tournament time.


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