Here we are in the last week in February, and what do you know, the tourney picture has cleared up.
In the last week, Kansas and Kentucky have shown why they’re the favorites (yes, I’ve come around on the Cats), Syracuse has shown both its potential and its limitations, and Villanova has dropped down a peg.
At this point, your No. 1 seeds are: KU, UK, ‘Cuse, and Purdue…with ‘Nova, Duke (oddly, the Pomeroy No. 1 ), and Kansas State (if they win out) still in the discussion. And just as it has nationally, things have cleared up within the deepest conference in the land.
While a couple still have some formalities to take care of, or possibly some actual work to do, we sit in great position to land a league record seven bids with absolutely zero chance of getting that number to eight.
Kansas (26-1, 12-0)
At this point, the Hawks are playing for an undefeated league season and to be placed in the Midwest regional. It’s all just about getting right for the stretch run, and Saturday was a huge step towards that goal. Projected seed: No. 1
Kansas State (22-4, 9-3)
With an exceptionally easy schedule by Big XII standards, the Cats have been able to breeze through without too much trouble, save for the hiccup at home against the Pokes. And because of that, they’ve set themselves up where a No. 1 is attainable and a No. 3 is a worst case scenario. They still have to go to Lubbock and Lawrence. Win the first, and they’ve probably locked up a two seed. Win the second, and they’re in play for a No. 1. Projected seed: No. 2
One More Would Be Enough
Texas A&M (19-7, 8-4)
Left for dead after Roland’s injury, the Aggies have battled back and put themselves in really nice position. But their work is far from done, with remaining trips to Waco and Norman, as well as visits from Texas and Okie State. Aside from dropping all four and bowing out in the first round in KC, they’ll be dancing, but seed is very much a question mark. Projected seed: No. 5
Baylor (20-6, 7-5)
Despite needing a split of their final four (A&M, @ OU, @ Tech, UT) to be above .500, the Bears sit in good shape because of their non-conference and the amount of legit road wins they picked up (Arkansas, So. Carolina, and Arizona State), as well as a neutral floor win over Xavier. Projected seed: No. 6
May Need Two, But in Great Shape
Texas (21-6, 7-5)
I’m not even a Texas fan and this depresses me. Their four remaining: OSU, @ A&M, OU, @ Baylor. You’d think the two in Austin should be gimmes, but both roadies will be salty. I’d say they caught a break losing Barnes’ boy Balbay to a knee injury, but instead of going with Brown, he asked his other soldier, Mason, to be a PG. Good luck with that. I guess, if nothing else, at least he can’t play those two at the same time, anymore. Really, anything is in play here. They can win out, get to 11-5, and nab the three seed, or they could stumble and finish at 8-8 and be firmly on the bubble. Your guess is as good as mine. Projected seed: No. 7
Missouri (20-7, 8-4)
The Tigers have managed to notch 20 wins and put themselves in a tie for third in the league without having really beaten anyone. No easy task. Their list of good wins includes Kansas State and Texas (with arguments to be made for Old Dominion and Illinois). Their road wins include Texas Tech and Nebraska, and that’s it. So while this is a tourney team, they haven’t exactly gone out and stockpiled a resume. They’ve got an easy win against Colorado on Wednesday, but their last three: @ KSU, @ ISU, v. Kansas. Losing all three is within reach and would leave them 21-10, 9-7. In the Big XII, that’s probably enough and would assuredly be with another win in KC, but they’d be well served to either win in Ames or knock of the Jayhawks at home, as doing either puts them in without question. Projected seed: No. 9
Oklahoma State (19-7, 7-5)
Got the win they had to have over the weekend, but they’ve got plenty of work to do with some tough ones remaining. They close at home against Nebraska, so we’ll assume they get that one. But their next three prior are @ Texas, Kansas, @ A&M. A difficult road for sure, but I wouldn’t want to bank of 20-10, 8-8 getting it done, even in the Big XII. I think they need one of those to solidify their standing, and obviously a win over the Jayhawks would have the most clout. Projected seed: No. 10
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