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Big 12 Bubble Watch: February 23rd

17 days remain until Selection Sunday. Who will be in and who will be sweating it out until then?

NCAA Basketball: Auburn at Texas Christian Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

In this week’s bubble watch, two more Big 12 teams have become "locks" to make the NCAA Tournament after being close to the bubble in last week’s. However, for the remaining three teams on the bubble, things have gotten much tighter.

According to today’s ESPN Bracketology, six Big 12 teams would make the NCAA Tournament, including the last team in the field (TCU). Texas Tech has fallen completely out of the mix for them and Kansas State is the first team out of dance, right behind the Frogs. According to Bracket Matrix, a compilation of all bracket projections, the Wildcats and Frogs would both be in with the five locks, but if the season ended today, there would be no guarantees for them.

Locks

Kansas (25-3 Overall, 13-2 Big 12)

Projection: 1-seed

With wins over Baylor in Waco and TCU in Lawrence since the last bubble watch, Kansas has locked up at least a share of their 13th-straight Big 12 title. That ties UCLA’s record for most consecutive conference championships, and is even more impressive considering how recruiting has changed over the years. With only three games remaining until the Big 12 Tournament, the Jayhawks will just be trying to hold on to their position as a projected 1-seed.

Baylor (23-5, 10-5)

Projection: 2-seed

The Bears missed out on a huge opportunity to improve their chances of being a 1-seed when they fell to the Jayhawks at home this past Saturday. Baylor blew a late lead and any chance they had of winning the Big 12 title. Despite their impressive non-conference resume and high RPI ranking, I can’t see the committee giving the Big 12 two teams with 1-seeds, especially when teams from other conferences such as Gonzaga, North Carolina, and Villanova all have legitimate chances as well. However, I can’t imagine Baylor falling apart to the point that they drop below a 2-seed either.

West Virginia (22-6, 10-5)

Projection: 3-seed

The Mountaineers also cost themselves a chance at a Big 12 title by blowing a late lead against the Jayhawks last week, but have recovered with wins at home against Texas Tech and Texas. Winners of 4 of their last 5 and 7 of their last 9, Press Virginia is starting to heat up at just the right time. In terms of seeding, the next few games will be very telling. They travel to Fort Worth this weekend to face a TCU team desperate for a signature win and resume boost before traveling to Waco. After that, they close out their season at home against Iowa State.

Oklahoma State (19-9, 8-7)

Projection: 6-seed

Cowboys fans can breathe a little easier now as we can safely say they’ll be dancing this season. Oklahoma State got off to a fantastic start this season, going 10-2 in non-conference and finishing 3rd in the Maui Invitational. After that, they lost their first 6 conference games and seemed to be struggling to finish games. However, they figured it out and have won 8 of their last 9 behind phenomenal play from guards Jawun Evans and Jeffrey Carroll. This is a team that is well balanced on offense and defense and could do some serious damage in both the Big 12 Tournament and the NCAA Tournament.

Iowa State (18-9, 10-5)

Projection: 7-seed

The Cyclones have been surging over the past couple of weeks and are currently riding a 4-game winning streak. In my eyes, they are safely into the NCAA Tournament, especially considering the fact that they have only one bad loss and are the only team in the nation that boasts a win over Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse. It’ll be tough for them to rise to anything above a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament, but this is a team that could be very dangerous. Monte Morris, Naz Long, and Deonte Burton form a formidable backcourt and the emergence of Solomon Young could be the x-factor in the postseason.

On the Bubble Still

TCU (17-11, 6-9)

Projection: First Four

Despite riding a 4-game losing streak, TCU still has the best chance of getting in among the remaining 3 bubble teams, mainly due to their victory over Kansas State in Manhattan. For the Frogs to stay above the Wildcats, they must win at home against them next week and at Oklahoma. They are still looking for a marquee win and have two chances left: Saturday against West Virginia and if they face one of the top teams at the Big 12 Tournament. On the bright side, TCU’s RPI ranking actually moved up to #53 with the loss at Kansas. The main strong points on the Frogs’ resume is having only one loss outside of the RPI top 100 (@ Texas Tech) and 4 wins over top 100 teams. But as I mentioned, they have two must-win games next week and the matchup with K-State is by far the most important.

Kansas State (17-11, 6-9)

Projection: NIT

Kansas State had a chance last night to take control of the bubble situation among these three teams, but blew a 14-point 1st half lead against Oklahoma State at home. That loss dropped the Wildcats down to #62 in the RPI, but K-State does have games in Norman and Fort Worth over the next week to help move them back up. Like the Frogs, they only have one loss outside of the RPI top 100 (@ Texas Tech) and boast 4 wins over top 100 teams. They should be getting into the NIT if they don’t make the NCAA Tournament, but with the matchups against the Sooners and Frogs and a home tilt against Texas Tech, the Wildcats still have a strong shot of earning their way in.

Texas Tech (17-11, 5-10)

Projection: NIT

Texas Tech’s chances of getting in took a major hit at home this past week when they dropped a close home game against Iowa State. Despite their home wins over West Virginia and Baylor, it is getting more and more difficult to picture the Red Raiders getting into the NCAA Tournament. Their #102 RPI ranking is still very low relative to the rest of the bubble and they played a weak non-conference schedule. They should be invited to the NIT due to their 5 wins over top 100 RPI teams, but unless they win out and pick up a win in Kansas City, their NCAA chances are done.

Ready for Next Season

Texas (10-18, 4-11)

Things aren’t getting much better for the Longhorns this season. They are currently riding a 4-game losing streak and barring any miracle run in Kansas City, they won’t be playing any more games after the Big 12 Tournament. Texas should just attempt to keep things respectable when Kansas and Baylor come to Austin, and winning either of those games could shake up NCAA Tournament seeding.

Oklahoma (9-18, 3-12)

The Sooners are in the same boat as the Longhorns, as they won’t be playing any basketball after Kansas City unless they win the Big 12 Tournament. On the bright side for both of these programs, they have some talented guards coming in next year to pair with their current young players. Oklahoma could still have a major impact on the NCAA Tournament this year though, since both Kansas State and TCU, two bubble teams, still have to go to Norman.