No new teams have locked up at-large spots into the NCAA Tournament, but two teams have officially fallen off the bubble since last week’s edition, found here.
According to the most recent edition of ESPN’s Bracketology, the Big 12 would only have 5 teams getting into the Big Dance, which is shocking given the caliber of the conference. BracketMatrix.com, which compiles all of the projected brackets, also only has the same 5 teams getting in.
All 5 of those teams are either ranked or receiving votes in this week’s AP Top 25 and the conference has 7 teams ranked in the top 70 of the RPI. Given the top-to-bottom strength of the conference, the Big 12 deserves to get at least 6 teams into the field. As of today, I expect 6 Big 12 teams to be headed to the Big Dance and another 2 to be headed to the NIT.
Kansas (27-3 Overall, 15-2 Big 12)
Over the past week, the Jayhawks moved up to #1 in the AP poll on Monday and went 2-0 with wins in Austin and at home against Oklahoma. The Sooners actually led that game up until the 6:07 mark in the 2nd half, but Kansas eventually figured things out and continued their winning ways. The Jayhawks are locked in as the #1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament and they’ll likely find their way to the final. Even if Kansas were to lose their next two games, it’s hard to picture them being anything but a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Baylor (24-6, 11-6)
Last week, Baylor dropped a close game in Ames but came away with a key win over West Virginia at home. That win over the Mountaineers keeps the Bears on the #2 seed line for the NCAA Tournament, but their position isn’t as solid as Kansas’ on the #1 seed line. With a win in their final regular season game at Texas on Saturday, they should be able to lock up a #2 seed, but a loss there and in the Big 12 Tournament could drop them down. On the flip side, if they make a run in Kansas City and win the Big 12 Championship, I still don’t see them passing teams like Gonzaga, Kansas, Villanova, and North Carolina for a #1 seed.
West Virginia (23-7, 11-6)
The Mountaineers went 1-1 in the past week, winning at TCU on Saturday before falling in Waco earlier this week. The biggest thing working against West Virginia in terms of seeding is their #24 RPI ranking. A win over Baylor likely would have clinched a #3 seed for the ‘eers, but in many projections they are still sitting as a #4 seed. They have another chance to add a big win to their resume as they host Iowa State on Friday night. A win for West Virginia would make them the #2 seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament.
Iowa State (20-9, 12-5)
The Cyclones resume is full of missed opportunities, and yet they find themselves in 2nd place in the Big 12 and could lock that up with a win over West Virginia Friday night. Winners of 6-straight, Iowa State has really started to get things going with the emergence of Solomon Young in the post. If they had won some of those close losses, such as the 2-point loss to Gonzaga or 2-point loss at Baylor, they could easily be up near a #3 or #4 seed for the NCAA Tournament, if not higher.
Oklahoma State (20-10, 9-8)
The Cowboys lost a very close game in Ames earlier in this week 86-83, but they are still winners of 10 of their last 12 and have worked their way up to what should be a very good seed for them in the NCAA Tournament. Considering they were 0-6 to start in Big 12 play, it has been amazing to see them work themselves up the standings. Oklahoma State is guaranteed to be the #5 seed in the Big 12 Tournament next week and could face Baylor, West Virginia, or Iowa State. Adding in their game at home against Kansas on Saturday, the Pokes have multiple chances to move up even higher in seeding.
On the Bubble Still
Kansas State (18-12, 7-10)
Projection: First Four
The Wildcats managed to keep their NCAA Tournament at-large hopes alive by winning in Fort Worth 75-74 last night. The win moved Kansas State up to #59 in the RPI and moved them into the “First Four Out” category in ESPN’s latest projection. As much as I wish it was the Frogs we were talking about here instead, I have no idea why the Wildcats should be left out of the field. With the Big 12 being 1 of the 2 premier college basketball conferences this season, I find it hard to believe that the Big 12 will only get 5 teams in. K-State’s seed for the Big 12 Tournament is up in the air, as they could finish as the #6, #7, or #8 seed.
In the NIT Hunt
TCU (17-13, 6-11)
Last night’s home loss to Kansas State finally pulled the plug on TCU’s NCAA Tournament at-large hopes. However, all is not lost for the Frogs in Jamie Dixon’s first year in charge of the program. The Frogs will either be the #7 or the #8 seed in the Big 12 Tournament next week, which is the program’s best since joining the conference. After playing Oklahoma on Saturday, they will either face Oklahoma again or Texas in Kansas City. That means TCU has a couple good chances to get at least 1 more win to try and lock up an NIT bid. However, going 0-2 could put the Frogs in a very difficult spot and may drop them out of the NIT field.
Texas Tech (18-12, 6-11)
Due to a weaker non-conference schedule, the Red Raiders’ chances of getting into the NIT are a bit slimmer than TCU’s, but I think they’ll find their way in. They are hampered by their current #101 RPI ranking, but with wins over Baylor and West Virginia, they should get a chance to play in the NIT depending on the availability of at-large slots. If they win their game in Manhattan on Saturday, their chances will seem much better, but they have struggled outside of Lubbock. The Red Raiders will either be the #6, #7, or #8 seed in next week’s Big 12 Tournament.
Ready for Next Season
Oklahoma (10-19, 4-13)
The Sooners have no chance of getting in as an at-large, and it’s pretty hard to imagine them winning 4-straight games in Kansas City to get the automatic bid, but you have to respect how this team has been competing recently. Since losing four-year starter Jordan Woodard to a season-ending injury, Oklahoma has had some young guys step up and play very well. They routed Kansas State at home 81-51 last Saturday and gave Kansas all they could in Lawrence. The Sooners host TCU on Saturday hoping to find a way to move up to the #9 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
Texas (10-20, 4-13)
Like the Sooners, the Longhorns only hopes of doing anything is to win out in Kansas City next week. Texas hosts Baylor in their final game Saturday in a matchup that will have a lot on the line in terms of Big 12 Tournament seeding. However, the Longhorns will either be the #9 or the #10 seed, meaning they’ll have to go 4-0 to win it all. Maybe Texas will be back next year. Maybe.