WSU's Big Dance forecast is in tight range

THERE IS ART and there is science. Projecting the seedings in the NCAA Tournament -- and, more specifically, where Washington State will be slotted come Sunday -- definitely falls in the category of the former. Perusing the work of numerous popular bracket forecasters, it looks like the Cougars are headed for a ...

... No. 5 seed.

In looking at 55 of the more visible professional and amateur bracketology forecasts, 29 see WSU as a No. 5 seed, 16 forecast Wazzu to be a No. 6, four predict a No. 4 seed and three see Washington State as a No. 7.

Things of course could change dramatically if the Cougs have a supercharged conference tourney. But right now, with a 23-7 record, No. 20 RPI and No. 46 strength-of-schedule, that's where things stand.

Of the more recognized media names, Washington State is picked as a No. 5 seed by CBS Sportsline, Stewart Mandel, Jerry Palm, Yahoo Sports, Fox Sports and Dave Curtis of the Orlando Sentinel.

The most well known of the bracket projectionists is ESPN's Joe Lunardi. He is one of the few to pick WSU as a No. 7 seed. So too does Ryan Fagan at The Sporting News.

As for, we're looking to see how the Pac-10 tourney plays out. But if Washington State runs the table, the Cougs likely will have beaten both Stanford and UCLA. In that case, Washington State would almost certainly open as a No. 4 in the Big Dance.

If Washington State wins two games in the Pac-10 tourney and one of those games is against Stanford, the CF.C projection is for a No. 5 seed. If the Cougs win two games but the vanquished are Oregon and Arizona, the scales tilt ever so slightly in our view toward a No. 6, though a No. 5 is certainly still possible. If Wazzu wins one game in the Pac-10 tourney, our projection is for a No. 6 seed.

If WSU loses their first round game, the pick remains the same, a No. 6 seed. Although a-one- and-done in the Pac-10 Tourney does increase the chances for a No. 7 on Selection Sunday, we think Lunardi is simply off in projecting that USC -- a team Washington State swept this season -- and the Cougars open as both No. 7 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.

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