Big 12 bubble teams: Who's in and who's out?
MAR 03, 2014 11:19p ET
Bubble talk will dominate the next two weeks of college basketball. Who's in the tournament? Who's out? Who should be worried? Who should be optimistic?
Let's make it real simple by taking a look at the Big 12 bubble teams' current resumes, bubble status and what has to happen to get a coveted invite to The Big Dance.
Record: 20-10, 8-9 Big 12
Strength of schedule: 37
Record vs. RPI top 50: 5-9
Remaining schedule: at Iowa State
If the season ended today: Wins over Kansas and Kansas State on Saturday and Monday would have the Cowboys back in the NCAA field, likely as a 10-12 seed. The Cowboys looked like a Final Four team early in the season on the way to a 15-2 start and a spot in the top 10. Monday's win extended OSU's winning streak to four, which was much-needed after losing seven consecutive games in the middle of Big 12 play. The Pokes were out of the NCAA field before this winning streak began. OSU may also get consideration for being without star Marcus Smart for three of those seven games. That could bump them up a seed line.
What has to happen: The Cowboys needed at least a split in the final week of the season to reach 8-10 in the Big 12, which has proven itself as college basketball's top conference this season. They could join Baylor as the first teams in league history to make the NCAA Tournament with a losing record in conference play. Losing at Iowa State wouldn't hurt OSU's resume, and only a loss on Day 1 at the Big 12 Tournament to TCU or Texas Tech would cause the Cowboys to sweat on Selection Sunday. Even then, they should feel very confident they've earned a spot. OSU's not quite a lock, but it's about as close as you can get at this point in the season after the well-timed winning streak that will leave a good taste in the committee's mouth.
Record: 19-10, 7-9 Big 12
Strength of schedule: 12
Record vs. RPI top 50: 6-8 (1-8 vs. top 25, 5-0 vs. 26-50)
Remaining schedule: vs. Iowa State, at Kansas State
If the season ended today: The Bears would be in, with the possibility of getting stuck in the opening round in Dayton as a First Four team. Baylor has won four of its last five games. The only loss in that stretch came on the road at Texas.
What has to happen: Baylor's remaining schedule is difficult, and capping the season with a trip to Manhattan--where Kansas State is 15-1 this season and undefeated in Big 12 play--will be difficult. It makes Tuesday's game against Iowa State even bigger. Baylor needs a win. A loss in both would necessitate at least one win at the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. If Baylor caps the season with a three-game losing streak, it will have reason to be very, very worried on Selection Sunday. One more win is almost certainly going to be one of quality. The Bears' next win will likely be the one that makes their NCAA Tournament spot official.
Record: 16-13, 8-8 Big 12
Strength of schedule: 70
Record vs. RPI top 50: 4-11
Remaining schedule: at Oklahoma, Kansas
If the season ended today: West Virginia would be in the NIT. The Mountaineers recent slide have taken them out of the 68-team field almost as suddenly as they entered it in the middle of Big 12 play. West Virginia's lost four of its last six games after a strong 6-4 start in conference play, capped by a rout of Iowa State.
What has to happen: The Mountaineers hopes are on life support, and the rest of the season is a good news/bad news proposition. The bad news? Oklahoma and Kansas await. The good news? Wins over both would be huge boosts to the resume entering the Big 12 Tournament. The Mountaineers also caught a break: Kansas center Joel Embiid, the likely No. 1 pick in next year's draft, will sit after reaggravating a lower back strain suffered earlier this season. Both Oklahoma and Kansas are in the latest top 25. West Virginia would need to win both or get a split and make a run to the Big 12 tourney final to feel any sort of security on Selection Sunday. Even with a split and a deep tournament run, WVU's poor overall record and RPI might be too much to overcome, especially considering the unpredictability of Championship Week. You never know when a conference tourney Cinderella might steal an at-large bid.
Record: 20-10, 10-7 Big 12
Record vs. RPI top 50: 7-6
Remaining schedule: Baylor
If the season ended today: Kansas State would easily be in the NCAA Tournament field, possibly as a single-digit seed. Saturday's win over Iowa State gave the Wildcats a nice boost.
What has to happen: Kansas State's sluggish start (2-3, with losses to Northern Colorado, Charlotte and Georgetown) is the only cause for concern. One more win may officially move K-State to "lock" status, but the possibility looms that K-State could end its season on a three-game losing streak, with perhaps a loss to TCU or Texas Tech. The Wildcats are in no position to sweat yet, but if anarchy reigns during championship weekend and K-State finishes the season on a skid, a tourney snub could be a possibility. It's very, very remote, but March Madness didn't get its name by being docile and predictable.