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Five games left: What does TCU need to do to make the NCAA Tournament?

TCU Basketball vs West Virginia, January 22, 2018 (Fort Worth, TX)
TCU Basketball vs West Virginia, January 22, 2018 (Fort Worth, TX)
Melissa Triebwasser

Melissa wrote some brilliant words yesterday about the short bench, and the reason for it, in this piece that you should definitely read.

It’s true. TCU is running short on bodies, and running out of time to convince the committee that they’re worthy of a bid in the NCAA Tournament.

However, ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi has TCU projected as a 9-seed, after TCU’s 82-66 loss to West Virginia on Monday.

Which means that, despite the heightened expectations in just the second year of Jamie Dixon’s tenure, the Frogs are still in good position to do what most fans thought would happen, just two years removed from finishing dead last for the third time in four seasons in the conference.

The Frogs probably need at least three more wins to be in contention on Selection Day, though, and with just five games left in the regular season, that could be a daunting task.

Of course, Big 12 Tournament wins could also play a factor in TCU making the NCAA Tournament, but in order for those wins to matter, TCU needs to set themselves up heading into the tournament.

If you’ll remember, TCU beat Oklahoma and No. 1 Kansas in the 2017 Big 12 Tournament, but those wins still weren’t enough to get them in the NCAA Tournament, due to the Frogs dropping their final seven regular season games.

Here are TCU’s final five regular season games.

vs. Oklahoma State | Saturday, February 17 | 7:00 PM | ESPN 2

TCU defeated the Cowboys in Stillwater back on January 30th, 79-66. The Frogs shot 55.6% from the floor, and were 8-12 from deep as they overcame 20 turnovers to get a big road win. For the Pokes, it was their third consecutive loss, dropping them to 13-9 overall, and 3-6 in Big 12 play.

Since that time they’ve gone on the road to beat both Kansas and West Virginia, while dropping home games to Baylor and Kansas State. They’re a confusing team, but the Cowboys have shown they have what it takes to go on the road and win.

@ Iowa State | Wednesday, February 21 | 7:00 PM

The Frogs beat Iowa State like a drum 96-73 in their first matchup, back on January 17, as the Cyclones were in capping a streak of losing five out of six games. Iowa State, currently in last place in the conference, has recorded wins over Texas Tech, West Virginia, and Oklahoma since that loss to TCU, but they’ve also lost five more games.

The Cyclones head to Manhattan to face Kansas State this Saturday, before they host the Frogs next week.

vs. Baylor | Saturday, February 24 | 11:00 AM | ESPN 2

It took overtime for the Frogs to win in Waco back on January 2nd, but TCU came away with an 81-78 victory just days after the Frogs blew a double-digit point lead against Oklahoma to fall to 0-1 in conference play.

Baylor started conference play 2-7, but has since gone on a four-game winning streak, knocking off Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Kansas, and Texas. The Bears are currently in the “First Four Out” cluster on ESPN’s Bracketology page, but they still have plenty of time to make hay. They host Texas Tech and West Virginia before coming to Fort Worth for a visit, and they’re as hot as any team in the conference.

vs. Kansas State | Tuesday, February 27 | 8:00 PM | ESPNU

TCU fell to the Wildcats while KSU wore some of the worst throwback uniforms in the history of college basketball, back on January 20th. The Frogs never held a lead throughout the contest, as an inefficient offense and sloppy defense never allowed TCU to grab momentum.

The Wildcats have gone 3-3 in Big 12 play since beating TCU, suffering blowout losses at the hands of Kansas, West Virginia and Texas Tech, while beating Baylor, Texas, and Oklahoma State. They’ll face Iowa State, Texas, and Oklahoma prior to facing TCU.

@ Texas Tech | Saturday, March 3 | 3:00 PM

Texas Tech handed TCU their most convincing loss of the season on February 3rd, going on an 18-0 run in the middle of the first half and never really looking back. TCU turned the ball over 17 times, and shot under 40% from the floor in the first half, as they were rolled 83-71 (the final score doesn’t indicate the type of loss it was.)

The Raiders currently sit atop the Big 12, with games against Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas, and West Virginia left, prior to their season finale against the Frogs. This will definitely be the toughest game left on the schedule for TCU, as the Raiders are a legitimate top 10 team in the country.