As we approach Selection Sunday, teams are beginning to “lock up” NCAA Tournament bids while others still search for important wins to get them into the dance. A few Big 12 teams will for sure be dancing and some most likely will not, unless they miraculously win the Big 12 Tournament. For half of the conference though, they still have a chance, but need to continue to play well to avoid falling out of the field.
According to ESPN’s Bracketology, seven Big 12 teams would be in the field if the season ended today. Texas Tech, the only team that still has a chance but isn’t in the projected field, is just outside as the sixth team out. According to Bracket Matrix, which compiles every bracket projection out there, the same seven teams would be in. However, these are simply if the season ended today and most of these teams still have work to do.
Kansas (23-3 Overall, 11-2 Big 12)
The Jayhawks, ranked #3 in both the AP Top 25 and the RPI, will definitely be getting into the NCAA Tournament this season and will likely be a 1-seed unless they completely fall apart. They are currently two games ahead of Baylor for the Big 12 title, but travel down to Waco this Saturday with a chance to essentially clinch the conference. After their game with the Bears, they do not face any more ranked opponents until the Big 12 Tournament, unless Oklahoma State rises into the Top 25.
Baylor (22-4, 9-4)
The Bears, who are currently #1 in the RPI and have been for awhile, are also on track to be a 1-seed in the NCAA Tournament and were listed as one when the NCAA did their bracket preview this past Saturday. They still have home games remaining at home against both Kansas and West Virginia, which could knock them down to a 2-seed, but it is safe to say they will be dancing this year for sure.
West Virginia (20-6, 8-5)
The Mountaineers will not be sweating it out on Selection Sunday either. They currently sit at #30 in the RPI, which is low for a team looking for a high seed, but they do boast home wins over Baylor and Kansas and a road win over Virginia on their non-conference record. They haven’t looked as good outside of Morgantown, but they were listed as a 4-seed in the bracket preview and only have one ranked opponent remaining in the regular season. Ultimately, I think they’ll find a way to work up to a 3-seed by making it to the Big 12 Championship game.
On the Bubble Still
Oklahoma State (17-9, 6-7)
The Cowboys, fresh off of their road win against the Frogs, have to be feeling fairly confident about their chances of getting in despite their 6-7 Big 12 record. They are ranked above West Virginia in the RPI at #28 and boast a win in Morgantown and neutral-site victories over UCONN and Georgetown. Their only non-conference losses came against North Carolina (in Maui) and at Maryland, both of whom are ranked currently in the AP poll. With the way Oklahoma State has been playing, it is tough to believe they’ll fall apart and get left out. They could even make a serious run in the NCAA Tournament behind Evans and Carroll.
Iowa State (16-9, 8-5)
Iowa State’s record is fairly deceiving as they have played a difficult schedule, but there is no reason to believe they won’t make the NCAA Tournament. Some of their losses have been close and to very good teams, including a 73-71 loss on a neutral court to undefeated and current #1 Gonzaga. On the bright side for the Cyclones, they boast a win at Kansas, which they can probably ride into the NCAA Tournament. They also have chances left against Baylor at home and at West Virginia, which could boost their current #47 RPI ranking.
TCU (17-9, 6-7)
The Frogs really needed to get a victory last night, but they are not done for yet. They fell to #49 in the RPI, which puts them in a tough spot, but they have plenty of chances remaining to boost it if they can win at either Iowa State or at Kansas or at home against West Virginia. Their two games after that against K-State and at Oklahoma will be must-wins though and they must be able to weather these next few match-ups. TCU fans will need to keep an eye on teams such as Illinois State and Arkansas State down the stretch, hoping for some help with their RPI.
Kansas State (16-10, 5-8)
Projection: First Four
Both Kansas State and Texas Tech have to do more to get in, as they played much weaker non-conference schedules, but both still have chances to get in. For the Wildcats, they are in a better spot thanks to their road win over Baylor, in addition to their home win over West Virginia. Also, they have no remaining games with Kansas, Baylor, and West Virginia, so their schedule is set up to make a run over these next couple weeks. Three road games against Texas, Oklahoma, and TCU provide them with plenty of opportunity to boost their #55 RPI ranking.
Texas Tech (17-9, 5-8)
Texas Tech seemed to be dead in the water after a heartbreaking home loss to Kansas, which nearly dropped them out of the top 100 of the RPI. However, a win over Baylor at home this week has brought their RPI back up to #85 and has kept them in the hunt. With wins at home over West Virginia and Baylor, it is hard to count them out, but the next few games for the Red Raiders (@ West Virginia, vs. Iowa State, @ Oklahoma State) could make or break their resume. In the end, it is tough to see them getting their RPI up enough to make into the field, but they could do damage in the NIT in Chris Beard’s first year there.
Ready for Next Season
Texas (10-16, 4-9)
Technically, neither of these teams are completely out of the running, but anyone who thinks either the Longhorns or Sooners are going to win the Big 12 Tournament and get an automatic bid is crazy. At best, Texas can be 15-16 heading up to Kansas City and will probably be one of the lowest seeds. With games remaining against West Virginia, Kansas, and Baylor, the Longhorns could have a significant impact on how things turn out, but it’s hard to see them getting in.
Oklahoma (9-16, 3-10)
It has been a rough year for Oklahoma trying to find ways to replace all of the talent they lost from last year’s Final Four team, namely Buddy Hield. Jordan Woodard was the only mainstay that returned, but his college career is over after tearing his ACL this past Saturday. They also will be sub-.500 going up to Kansas City and have no chance of making the NCAA Tournament without winning the automatic bid. However, they are a young team and could benefit by making sure some of their freshmen get plenty of time over the course of the remaining games.