2011 NCAA Tournament: Ranking Each Big 12 Men's Basketball Team's Chances
Well, it's getting to be that time of year again.
March is right around the corner and the Big 12 Conference is quite possibly the best in the nation at the moment.
Teams like Texas, Kansas, Texas A&M and Missouri are looking good for the NCAA tournament, while some of the other Big 12 programs desperately need wins to keep their hopes alive.
As we head into the latter part of Big 12 play, let's take a look at each team's chance to make the NCAA tournament in order of the current Big 12 standings.
12. Iowa State Cyclones (14-11, 1-9)
Quality Wins: at Virginia, Baylor
Bad Losses: at Northern Illinois, Texas Tech, Oklahoma
Ever since the start of Big 12 Conference play, all has gone sour for first-year coach Fred Hoiberg and the Iowa State Cyclones.
After starting off the season 13-2, the Cyclones have gone just 1-9 in conference play and were manhandled by Kansas on Saturday. Although Baylor is a decent win, their losses to Texas Tech and Oklahoma pretty much seal the deal that ISU won't be heading to the NCAA tournament in March.
Even if they were to win out, I don't think it's the Cyclones' year. Possibly an NIT birth if they could get a few more wins by the time the season is done.
Honestly, if the Cyclones go to the NIT I would consider it a step in the right direction for Fred Hoiberg and his team.
11. Texas Tech Red Raiders (11-14, 3-7)
Quality Wins: Oklahoma State
Bad Losses: North Texas, TCU, Oklahoma
Like its predecessor, Texas Tech has no chance of making the NCAA tournament this season.
The Red Raiders barely finished over .500 with their non-conference schedule in which they only played one nationally ranked team in Washington. They have suffered multiple double-digit losses in Big 12 play as well.
Sure, Texas Tech went on a little three-game run, which sparked some hope for Pat Knight, but in reality the Red Raiders just aren't the team everyone expected. Even with its senior leadership, the ball just never got rolling in Lubbock and it may cost Pat Knight his job.
As for the Red Raiders' NIT wishes, unless they can finish strong I don't see them having any postseason games after the Big 12 tournament.
10. Oklahoma Sooners (12-12, 4-6)
Quality Wins: Baylor
Bad Losses: Chaminade
It's not that Oklahoma doesn't have any terrible losses; it's just the fact that the Sooners are just flat out bad this year.
OU won most of the games it played against smaller schools except Chaminade but lost every non-conference challenge that could have helped its resume like Arkansas, Arizona and Cincinnati. As for Big 12 play, the Baylor victory at home seems to be the only one worth noting.
Jeff Capel has some serious work to do in Norman if the Sooners are going to get back on track.
This is a program that is just a few years removed from a legitimate run in the NCAA tournament. NIT chances are lingering with every game the Sooners drop from here on out.
9. Kansas State (16-9, 4-6)
Quality Wins: Virginia Tech, Gonzaga,
Bad Losses: UNLV, at Oklahoma State, Colorado
Talk about a meltdown.
The Kansas State Wildcats, who were supposed to win the Big 12 this season, are now fighting for a possible NCAA tournament berth.
The victory over Virginia Tech is still a solid win as the Hokies are playing pretty well this season. Gonzaga proved to be a good win as well but the Wildcats have yet to win a conference game against a nationally ranked opponent.
Also, KSU has lost to Colorado at home and on the road. The Wildcats also opened conference play with a loss on the road at Oklahoma State.
Through the pain of losing, Kansas State also lost two scholarship players and is heading into the biggest game of its season Monday night. If the Wildcats can somehow knock off Kansas they'll be given another look as a bubble team when tournament time arrives.
But don't count on it.
And if they go to the NIT, preseason All-American guard Jacob Pullen said he won't be attending.
8. Oklahoma State (16-8, 4-6)
Quality Wins: Alabama, Missouri
Bad Losses: Texas Tech
Although the Cowboys are in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 race, their resume actually isn't that bad when it comes to the NCAA tournament.
Besides a loss to Texas Tech, they really have no losses that jump out at you. Alabama wasn't anything to cheer about when OSU beat them in November, but the Crimson Tide are 8-2 in SEC play and looking decent. Also, the win against Missouri looks pretty good.
Oklahoma State plays Texas this week and if the Cowboys could steal a victory from the Longhorns I think it could put them in the tournament. The Cowboys really need one more solid win to clinch a spot and usually are able to find a way to make that happen.
All in all, OSU's chances of making the tournament seem pretty likely as of right now. If they go on a stretch of losses and end the season poorly that could all change.
7. Nebraska Cornhuskers (16-8, 4-6)
Quality Wins: USC, Texas A&M
Bad Losses: Davidson, Texas Tech
So far, the Cornhuskers have impressed a lot of people this season.
Doc Salder is making the most of his talent and Nebraska seems to be giving it everything it has in its last season as a member of the Big 12 Conference.
That said, Nebraska is still very much on the bubble. The Cornhuskers do have home wins against USC and Texas A&M which look good, but their bad losses are balancing them out right now. Davidson and Texas Tech are either at or below .500, which is devastating to a resume.
Nebraska is winning games because of its defense and hasn't competed this well in the Big 12 in years. The Huskers need to keep the energy going in Lincoln to make sure they don't get overlooked by the NCAA tournament committee.
If Nebraska could win over half of its remaining games and somehow is able to beat Texas or Missouri, its chances of making the tournament would rise significantly.
6. Colorado Buffaloes (16-10, 5-6)
Quality Wins: Missouri
Bad Losses: at Harvard, at San Francisco, at Oklahoma
Another team that is leaving the Big 12 Conference after this season, Colorado is playing well after getting off to a very slow start.
So slow that it may have killed their chances of playing in the NCAA tournament. Losses at Harvard and San Francisco to kick off the season are still haunting the Buffs and their only real quality win is the conference opener against Missouri.
They still have chances to pull off upsets at Kansas and home against Texas but it seems highly unlikely that will actually happen. I will say if they could win out, they'd be in for sure. But don't count on CU's season ending that way.
Colorado has a lot of talent in Alec Burks and Cory Higgins but unless they can pull off some kind of miracle in this last month it seems as if Colorado will be NIT bound.
Honestly, an NIT isn't bad after the terrible season the Buffs had last year. I would venture to say they would be one of the better teams in the NIT.
5. Missouri Tigers (19-6, 5-5)
Quality Wins: Vanderbilt, Illinois
Bad Losses: at Colorado
The Tigers look pretty solid this year but have been unable to win on the road in conference play. They almost had an undefeated non-conference but lost to Georgetown in overtime, which would have really helped their resume for the tournament.
The wins over Vandy and Illinois are pretty good considering they've lost to every ranked team they have played in the Big 12 Conference so far.
Mike Anderson needs to find a way for his team to win on the road or Missouri may be overlooked for the higher seeds and is soon to be out of the national rankings.
I think Missouri is in the tournament as of now, but needs to keep winning in order to secure a decent seed. A win against Baylor, at Nebraska or Kansas would really help UM.
4. Baylor Bears (16-8, 6-5)
Quality Wins: at Texas A&M
Bad Losses: at Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Oklahoma
Although Scott Drew's team is playing better, Baylor was a pretty big letdown this season.
Not as bad as Kansas State, but the Bears were supposed to make some noise in the Big 12 and have come up short. Baylor has the talent but just can't find a way to make it work consistently.
As for their NCAA tournament resume, the Bears really have no impressive wins except for at Texas A&M. If they could have beaten Gonzaga on a neutral court they would be sitting a lot more comfortably right now. Also, Baylor lost to Florida State and Washington State at the end of non-conference play.
Like Missouri, Baylor is another team I think will make the NCAA tournament but still needs to have a strong end to its Big 12 season or else BU could find itself playing some tough teams in the first rounds.
Baylor still has to play at Missouri, Texas A&M and Texas so its chances of a strong finish are certainly possible. Should be interesting to see how it unfolds.
3. Texas A&M Aggies (19-5, 6-4)
Quality Wins: Temple, Washington, Missouri
Bad Losses: at Nebraska
Texas A&M is having a really good season and has surprised many Big 12 fans. The Aggies don't have that one outstanding player that gets a lot of national media coverage but they play good team basketball.
After a loss to Boston College in November, the Aggies won the rest of their non-conference games and are still looking at getting a high seed in the tournament.
The only ugly things on TAMU's resume are the losses at Texas and at home against Texas where the Longhorns beat them by 21 and 20 points respectively.
Other than that, Texas A&M looks pretty solid for another chance to make a run in the NCAA tournament.
Kansas still has to visit College Station and if A&M can steal that game it should stir up the NCAA committee.
2. Kansas Jayhawks (24-1, 9-1)
Quality Wins: Memphis, Arizona, at Baylor, Missouri
Bad Losses: None
The Kansas Jayhawks are still hoping that someone can beat the Texas Longhorns in order to have a shot at the Big 12 title, but it seems highly unlikely.
Kansas has had impressive wins both on the road and at home. The only game KU lost this season was at home to Texas. Granted there were issues going on behind the scenes with the passing of Thomas Robinson's mother the night before, but Kansas is still very much one of the best teams in the land.
If Kansas can win the rest of its Big 12 games to end the season it would all but secure a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Even if the Jayhawks were to get bounced in the first round of the Big 12 tournament I think they'll still hold onto the No. 1 seed.
KU has two more hard contests at Texas A&M and at Missouri to close out the season. Neither of these games is going to be easy and both of KU's opponents have the ability to knock off the seemingly unbeatable Kansas Jayhawks.
Right now, Kansas is fighting to keep its No. 1 seed.
1. Texas Longhorns (22-3, 10-0)
Quality Wins: UNC, at Texas A&M, at Kansas
Bad Losses: USC
Coming into the season unranked, the Texas Longhorns have been possibly the most impressive team in the nation this season.
Everyone knew UT had talent but the youth of that talent was a concern to many people. It showed at the beginning of the season when UT lost to USC but the other two losses were against Pitt and UConn.
Rick Barnes is on his way to keeping Kansas away from the Big 12 title for the first time in six seasons if he can find a way to keep his team firing on all cylinders.
As for the NCAA tournament, it looks as if Texas will get a No. 1 seed if it wins out. The only real test the Longhorns have left will be at Baylor for the last game of the season.
If UT happens to lose a couple, the worst-case scenario will be a two or three seed for the dynamic Longhorns.
For all of Kip's Big 12 Coverage from B/R and FOX, follow him on Twitter @KipReiserer