Tramel: Big 12 basketball in great shape for NCAA Tournament
The Big 12 lost its Big 12/SEC Challenge series, but that was to be expected. The Southeastern Conference won five of the nine games, but the matchups fell against the Big 12 -- the SEC had the higher-ranked team, using the NCAA’s NET rankings, in six of the nine games. And when the Texas-Kentucky game was canceled by COVID-19, a prime Big 12 opportunity was gone.
But the challenge still proved advantageous for the Big 12. OU’s 66-61 upset of Alabama, with the Sooners void of star point guard Austin Reaves, was the nation’s statement game of the weekend. That victory moved OU into contention for a top-four seed in bracketology projections. And OSU’s 81-77 victory over Arkansas solidified the Cowboys as an NCAA Tournament team.
The result is seven of the Big 12’s 10 teams are projected to be in the 68-team NCAAs, and all of them with at least a 7-seed.
It’s always good to look at projections other than just espn.com, so let’s use teamrankings.com, which updates each day and has the Big 12 on Monday morning with the following seeds:
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1-Baylor, 3-Texas, 3-OU, 5-Texas Tech, 5-West Virginia, 6-Kansas, 7-OSU.
According to teamrankings.com’s model, Baylor, Texas, OU, West Virginia and Kansas are 100 percent locks to make the tournament. It gives Baylor a 96 percent chance to be a No. 1 seed, Texas an 11 percent chance to be a No. 1 seed, OU a three percent chance to be a No. 1 seed, West Virginia a one percent chance to be a No. 1 seed and Kansas a zero percent chance to be a No. 1 seed.
Tech is given a 97 percent chance of making the tournament and a one percent chance of being a No. 1 seed. OSU is giving a 98 percent chance of making the NCAA Tournament and a zero percent chance of being a No. 1 seed.
So the Big 12/SEC Challenge, while disappointing, didn’t hurt the Big 12’s status as it relates to the postseason. Here are the rankings for this week:
1. Baylor (8-0, 16-0): The Bears could have a 4½-game lead in the conference by Sunday. They play at Texas and host TCU this week.
2. Texas (5-2, 11-3): Big week for the Longhorns, who host Baylor on Tuesday and play in Stillwater on Saturday. UT is the only team among the seven quality squads that doesn’t play Texas Christian, Kansas State or Iowa State this week.
3. Oklahoma (6-3, 11-4): The Sooners are soaring, and if they win at Tech on Monday night, then beat Iowa State in Norman on Saturday, OU could be a top-10 team by this time next week.
4. Kansas (5-4, 11-6): The Jayhawks are reeling. Their 80-61 loss at Tennessee was worse than the score indicated. Before playing at West Virginia on Saturday, KU hosts Kansas State on Tuesday night. Just what the Jayhawks needed.
5. Texas Tech (4-4, 12-5): All the metrics love the Red Raiders, and the metrics will love them more if they beat OU. Tech plays at K-State on Saturday.
6. Oklahoma State (4-4, 11-4): The Cowboys would be in even better shape had they held on to an eight-point lead over TCU with 2:10 left in their game back in December. OSU plays at TCU on Wednesday night, before hosting Texas on Saturday.
7. West Virginia (4-3, 11-5): The Mountaineers shoulder the burden of the Big 12’s challenge loss to the SEC, losing at home to Florida. WVU plays at Iowa State on Tuesday, then hosts Kansas on Saturday.
8. Texas Christian (2-5, 9-7): The Horned Frogs led by 12 points with four minutes left at 12th-ranked Missouri but lost in overtime. The Horned Frogs play at Baylor on Saturday, in addition to hosting OSU.
9. Kansas State (1-8, 5-13): Give the Wildcats credit. They dang near won at Texas A&M. Not that the Aggies are any good, either.
10. Iowa State (0-6, 2-9): It’s become a long, lost season in Ames.