The bad news is that even with a string of wins that RPI might not move much, given that West Virginia's next three games figure to be against DePaul, USF and perhaps Providence. In fact, winning might even drop the rating.
If you want hope, though, dig deeper into the numbers.
Jerry Palm, who along with ESPN's Joe Lunardi is probably the most comprehensive of the so-called bracketologists, puts together what he calls the Nitty Gritty Report on the CBSSports.com website. A variation of it is used by the selection committee.
And if you're wondering how Lunardi and Palm have kept West Virginia in the tournament field throughout this losing skid, those are the numbers that provide some insight.
Now, throw in the schedule itself. West Virginia has played 17 games against Top 100 teams (not to mention 15 in most of the predicted NCAA brackets). Only three higher-rated teams in the RPI have played more - No. 15 Michigan, No. 23 Vanderbilt and UConn (again). All have played 18 Top 100 teams, just one more than WVU. And while West Virginia are pretty evenly distributed among teams from 1-25 (5), 26-50 (7) and 51-100 (6), 11 of Vanderbilt's 18 were against teams in that last group.
Oh, so simply playing a tough schedule isn't enough? Well, West Virginia has eight wins against the Top 100 and only 21 teams have more. Seven of those have just one more, six have two more. Likewise, only 21 have more than WVU's four wins against Top 50 teams.
What does it all mean? Well, if West Virginia continues to lose it won't mean squat. As has been the case for six weeks now, teams will pass the Mountaineers by. But truth be told, two of the biggest negatives working against WVU - its current 7-9 Big East record and its 2-7 record in recent games - aren't actually on the committee's list of criteria. Really, they aren't. It's supposed to be the body of work. Period.
And believe it or not, the Mountaineers have a pretty good one already stored up. They would be wise, however, to add to it.
Reach Dave Hickman at 304-348-1734 or dphickm...@aol.com or follow him at Twitter.com/dphickman1.