On March 11th, over 300 teams will gather around their television sets with hopes and dreams that their name is called. Realistically only less than 100 teams truly have a chance of being called and only 68 teams will have their hopes and dreams turned to realities.
Sunday morning, the selection committee released their top 16 seeds. There were a plethora of surprises especially in the Big 12. The main thing people need to remember is the AP poll has zero influence on the brackets whatsoever. Which explains why Texas Tech is ranked seventh (soon to be sixth or higher) while the committee still has the team 10th and as a 3rd seed. The committee primarily looks at Rating percentage index (RPI), strength of schedule (SOS), key wins and losses, and last 12 games played. Some times the committee may take extenuating circumstances into effect like road performance and major injuries. These standards are pertinent to remember when trying to understand how seeding and entrance to the tournament works.
The Big 12 has had an incredibly crazy year. There’s even reason to believe that all 10 teams could play in a postseason tournament. With all the upsets we’ve seen, the Big 12 will hope to get as many teams as possible and though we could see an unprecedented eight teams make the tournament, with all the top teams consistently getting upset, it’s possible for the count to be as small as four.
Kansas 19-6 (8-4), projected seed: 2
RPI: 10, Kenpom: 14, SOS: 2
Key wins: vs. Kentucky, vs. Texas A&M, at West Virginia
Key losses: vs. Oklahoma State, at Baylor
Kansas may be having a bad season by their metrics, but this is still better than 90% of teams in the country. The Jayhawks still have a tough schedule to rely on, and still has the chance to win the conference.Now that the expectations are lower, will this be the team Bill Self takes further than usual?
Texas Tech 21-4 (9-3), projected seed: 3
RPI:11, Kenpom: 8, SOS: 64
Key wins: vs. Nevada, at Kansas, vs. West Virginia
Key losses: at Iowa State
How the heck is Tech only a 3 seed? Well that’s mostly because of the SOS number. Teams like Rice and Maine have dragged this Red Raider team down. Tech can still play their way into a 2 seed if they can continue their hot streak but with their SOS, it’ll be incredibly difficult to get much higher than that. This will just be another chip on the shoulders of the underdog Red Raiders that should motivate them come tournament time.
Likely in, but still needs work
Oklahoma 16-8 (6-6), projected seed: 4
RPI: 21, Kenpom: 31, SOS: 19
Key wins: at Wichita State, vs. Texas Tech, vs. Kansas
Key losses: at Kansas State, at Oklahoma State, at Iowa State
The Sooners need to figure out how to resurrect their season. Teams are starting to figure them out and it’s becoming a problem. Luckily for Lon Kruger’s team they still have the most exciting player in the country (which the committee definitely takes into account) and they have many signature wins.
West Virginia 18-7 (7-5), projected seed: 5
RPI: 35, Kenpom: 16, SOS: 59
Key wins: vs. Missouri, vs. Virginia, sweep of Oklahoma
Key losses: at Iowa State, vs. Oklahoma State
The Mountaineers had started the season extremely strong but had faltered. It had looked like they’d gotten their groove back until Okie State came through and put another hit on their resume. WVU still has work to do but should be comfortably in by the selection show.
Firmly on the bubble
TCU 17-8 (5-7), projected seed: 9
RPI: 23, Kenpom: 22, SOS: 14
Key wins: vs. Nevada, vs. West Virginia, vs. Texas
Key losses: at Kansas State, vs. Vanderbilt
TCU’s RPI will help them tremendously, and their win against Texas might’ve been the boost this team needed to further their ticket to the tournament. TCU has struggled against mighty opponents but also hasn’t made the mistake of losing to teams they’re not supposed to lose to. If TCU can ride this wave, they should remain in but every game will be one to watch.
Texas 15-10 (5-7), projected seed: 10
RPI: 47, Kenpom: 44, SOS: 16
Key wins: at Alabama, vs. Texas Tech, vs. Oklahoma
Key losses: at Baylor, at Oklahoma State, vs. Kansas State
Shaka Smart’s team must not like being comfortable. After a decent start to conference play which had them with a decent seed, the Longhorns have lost three of their last four and are now back on the bubble. The latest loss to TCU has them now fighting to stay in. If this trend continues Mohamed Bamba might be the latest one-and-done to watch the tournament from his couch.
Kansas State 17-8 (6-6), projected seed: NIT 1 (First Four Out)
RPI: 63, Kenpom: 56, SOS: 100
Key wins: vs. Oklahoma, vs. TCU, at Texas
Key losses: vs. Tulsa
Two things are killing K-State in their quest for the tournament. First is that dreadful schedule. They’ve played 10 teams with a sub 100 RPI which accumulates to the seventh worst non-conference strength of schedule in Division 1. K-State would have the worst SOS of any team to get an at large bid. The second thing hampering them is that ugly early season loss to Tulsa. They need Tulsa to continue to win in the AAC to help the Wildcats out or else it’s curtains for Bruce Weber’s group. Luckily for them, they’ve done a good job of not getting upset by any other team in conference, but they’re going to need more big time wins to get in.
Baylor 15-10 (5-7), projection: NIT 2
RPI: 61, Kenpom: 34, SOS: 27
Key wins: vs. Creighton, vs. Texas, vs. Kansas
Key losses: at Iowa State, vs. Kansas State
Baylor’s strength of schedule is helping them out tremendously. With all of their sub-150 teams having good conference seasons and the Big 12 itself having a positive year Baylor isn’t too far out of making it to the tournament. Their win over Kansas was enormous and pushes them that much closer, and with home games against Texas Tech and West Virginia coming up, the tourney is right there for them.
Will need a big win streak
Oklahoma State 15-10 (5-7), projected seed: NIT 4
RPI: 87, Kenpom: 66, SOS: 82
Key wins: vs. Florida State, at Kansas, at West Virginia
Key losses: at Kansas State, Baylor sweep
Oklahoma State has three of the best victories of any of the bubble team. Their problem is their schedule is weak and getting swept by Baylor continues to be a drag. The Cowboys can still play their way in but it’s an uphill climb.
Iowa State 13-11 (4-8), projection: NIT bubble
RPI: 86, Kenpom: 91, SOS: 38
Key wins: vs. Texas Tech, vs. West Virginia, vs. Oklahoma
Key losses: vs. Milwaukee, at Oklahoma State, at Baylor
The Cyclones were one weekend away from being placed in the category below, but there’s still a glimmer of hope thanks to that Oklahoma victory. Their RPI does not bde well but their schedule keeps them afloat. For the Cyclones, their best bet is hoping to make it to some sort of postseason, but a big run to close the season combined with a strong Big 12 tournament could have them sneaking their way in.
Better hope they win the Big 12 tournament
As of right now every team in the Big 12 still has a chance at a postseason, they’ve all played well and can rally. Iowa State is close to this mark but their key win Saturday still keeps their postseason hopes alive. Let’s see if someone needs to be added to this section or if everyone can steer clear.