Bubble Watch: The Big 12

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 Bubble Watch: The Big 12

The Big 12 Conference could receive as many six NCAA Tournament bids, because many of its bubble teams have strong RPI rankings between 31-43. Conference play has now been completed.  Right now, Kansas, Texas, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Baylor are all projected to make the NCAA Tournament.  Texas A&M is one of the last teams left out due to their struggles down the stretch.  A first round loss in the Big 12 Tournament will seal their NIT fate.  

 I) Most likely in:

 Oklahoma 21-10, 9-7  #25 RPI

Former Duke guard Jeff Capel overachieved with this team at the beginning of the season. The Sooners, though, have cooled-off in conference play and they are in trouble, despite having a strong RPI rating. 

The Good: An 83-72 over Arkansas, 72-68 over Gonzaga, 88-82 over West Virginia, 77-71 and 92-91 against Baylor.

The bad: The Sooners have lost two-straight (45-62 @ Texas, 45-63 @ Nebraska).  The loss to Nebraska definitely hurt, as that dropped the Sooners under .500 in conference play. 

Outlook: The Sooners started off the season impressively: winning three-straight non-conference games over Arkansas, Gonzaga and West Virginia.  Since then they have been streaky in conference play.  They have a favorable schedule remaining, which includes two home games (Texas A&M, at Oklahoma State, Missouri).  Even if the Sooners win two out of their last three, their fate will most likely be determined in the Big 12 Tournament.   The loss of Blake Griffin is huge.

Update: The Sooners embarrassed Texas A&M on March 1st 64 to 37, strengthening their case for at-large consideration.   Despite losing Blake Griffin to injury, Oklahoma knocked-off in state rival Oklahoma State 68-56 on March 5th.  

Baylor 21-9, 9-7 #34 RPI

Head coach Scott Drew has brought back respectability to his program after the 2003 murder of Patrick Dennehy (and subsequent NCAA violations), who was killed by his former teammate Carlton Dotson.

The good: A 68-64 win over Notre Dame, 116-110 over Texas A&M,  80-74 over Texas Tech and 92-86 over Kansas State.  They lost to Washington State 64-67. 

The bad:  Baylor recently had a four-game conference losing streak (Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas, Oklahoma). 78-85 loss to Arkansas.

Outlook: They were not able to get it done vs. Texas and Kansas.  Good thing the 85-95 loss to Division II Tarelton State does not count. The loss to Tarelton State shows that there is little parity in college basketball. 

Outlook: Baylor has won two games in a row after losing four straight.  They should win two out of their last three regular season games (Missouri, Texas A&M, and at Texas Tech).

Update: Baylor defeated Missouri 100-89 in a high-scoring game. Baylor lost to Texas A&M 57-71.  

 Kansas State 20-10, 10-6 #44 RPI

It would be nice to see Michael Beasley in the NCAA Tournament.  The super-freshman is averaging 26.2 points per game and 12.6 rebounds.  He will most likely be the 2nd straight freshman to win National Player of the Year honors.  Last year Texas’ Kevin Durant won the award after averaging 25.8 ppg and 11.1 rebounds.  State also features Bill Walker who contributes 16.2 ppg. 
The Good: The aforementioned Beasley.  84-82 at Oklahoma, 84-75 win over Kansas, 75-54 over Texas A&M. 
The Bad: A 77-87 loss to George Mason, 77-80 loss to Oregon, 77-103 loss to Xavier, 59-68 loss to Notre Dame, 64-71 loss to Nebraska, 75-84 loss to Texas Tech. and a 74-77 loss to Missouri. 
Outlook: Kansas State has found itself on the bubble after losing three in a row and needs to get back on the winning track.  They will most likely get in the big dance, but right now they are looking like an No. 8 to No. 9 seed.  Kansas State was unimpressive in non-conference play and they do not have any impressive wins. 

Update: Kansas State lost to in-state rival Kansas 74-88 on March 1st.     Kansas State defeated Colorado 78-72, ending a 4-game losing streak. 

II) On the outside looking in:

Texas A&M 22-9 overall, 8-8 #47 RPI

It is hard to put a 21-7 team on the bubble, but after recently losing three-straight games and still facing a difficult schedule to finish the season, Texas A&M could be National Invitation Tournament (NIT) bound.  Heralded 7'0'' freshman DeAndre Jordan has been disappointing this year averaging just 9.0 ppg and 6.6 rebounds. He also is one of the worst free throw shooters averaging around 41%. 
The good: A 77-63 over Washington, 70-47 over Ohio State, 79-53 over LSU and a 80-63 over Texas. 
The bad: Recently, lost three-straight to Texas 50-77, Oklahoma State 54-59 and Nebraska 59-65. 
Outlook: Texas A&M has a difficult schedule remaining and they may regret not getting the job done against Oklahoma State and Nebraska.  Texas A&M could be in trouble their next two games @ Oklahoma and @Baylor.   They finish the season playing Kansas at home. 
Update:  A&M needs to get back on the winning track.  They scored just 10 points in the first half vs. Oklahoma, losing the game 37-64.  A&M has lost 4 out of their last 5 games.  They defeated Baylor 71-57 on March 5th.  Texas A&M has continued to play itself off of the bubble, losing 5 out of their past 7 games. If they get in to the NCAA Tournament, they will be one of the last times. 

IV) Bubble has Burst 

 Texas Tech 16-14, 7-9 #61

Outlook: Pat Knight’s team is most likely NIT bound.  They have one of the toughest schedules remaining (Texas, at Kansas, Baylor). 

Update: Texas Texas upset in state rival Texas 83-80.  The win pus the Red Raiders back into contention for an at-large berth.    Texas Tech lost to Kansas 51-109 on March 3rd.  Are you kidding me?  Their RPI jumped 14 spots over last week.  

 Nebraska 18-11, 7-9 #RPI 101

 The good: Nebraska has been hot lately winning 3-straight over Kansas State, Texas A&M, Oklahoma.  A 62-47 over Arizona State and 63-51 over Rutgers. 

The bad: Nebraska recently moved into the RPI top 100.  They played a weak non-conference schedule with their only noteworthy wins against Arizona State and Rutgers (nothing to brag about there). 

Outlook: With many of the Big 12 bubble teams struggling of late, Nebraska is surging.  They have a favorable schedule, but two of the games are on the road (at Oklahoma State and Texas, Colorado.   If Nebraska can win two out of their next three then make a splash in the Big 12 tournament they could find themselves worth of an at-large berth.  Especially with other Big 12 bubble teams struggling. 

Update: Nebraska is NIT bound after losing to Oklahoma State 63-77 on March 1st.  Nebraska's come back fell short against Texas, losing 66-70 on March 4th. 

Things to Remember:

RPI- Rating Percentage Index

Remember only 34 teams receive at-large berths.   

Originally posted on Feb. 29th.   

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