For the sixth straight week, nine Big 12 men’s basketball teams made the cut in ESPN’s Bracketology for the Men’s NCAA Tournament next March.
But, for the first time, the ninth team flipped. One team that has been in Bracketology all year slid out, while one that has been on the outside looking in this season slid in. How long will that remain the case? Let’s dig in with three takeaways.
Hello, Oklahoma State
After blowing a 15-point lead to Kansas on the road in the Big 12 opener, the Cowboys went looking for redemption against West Virginia and got some (I wrote my takes from the game here). With that, ESPN had enough data to move the Cowboys into the Field of 68 for the first time since the preseason.
But it’s tenuous.
The Cowboys were the last selection in the field, meaning if the tournament started now the Cowboys would play a First Four game against Penn State.
With Oklahoma State’s win over West Virginia impacting its inclusion in the field, it’s also important to see how it impacted the Mountaineers. WVU dropped two spots to a six seed, and that also came after a loss to Kansas State on Saturday.
ESPN’s Joe Lunardi said that with conference play starting, along with more data for the NCAA’s NET rating and other factors, that Bracketology was becoming less theoretical and more predictive. Clearly, OSU’s win was the difference in getting it in the field. Which means that losing to Texas on Saturday could drop it right back out.
Goodbye, Texas Tech
The Red Raiders were on the bubble last week, but still in the field, playing in a First Four game. After its loss to TCU on Saturday, the Red Raiders fell out of this edition. In fact, they were the third team out of the field.
It got no better for the Red Raiders after their two-point loss to Kansas on Tuesday night. Texas Tech is now 0-2 in Big 12 play. Now, with how the NCAA NET ratings work, every game in the Big 12 is either a Quad 1 or Quad 2 game. So, it’s either a good win or a not-so-bad loss. But you can only lose so many games (I explored that here last week).
The Red Raiders are still in good shape. They can still get in the field. But a win on Saturday is vital.
Also, TCU’s win over Texas Tech was worth two seeds for the Horned Frogs. They moved from a No. 8 seed to a No. 6 seed.
The ‘New Big 12’
All season, future Big 12 member Houston has been a part of Bracketology. In fact, after Purdue’s loss on Monday, it’s possible Houston could return to No. 1 in the AP Top 25 on Monday. Right now, Houston is a No. 2 seed.
Right now, the Cougars are the only new Big 12 team in the field. But there’s a second candidate emerging in UCF.
The Knights were in the Second Four Out of the field. While Houston had the No. 1 NET rating in the country after Jan. 2’s games, UCF was No. 51. It also has a 10-4 record. Houston beat UCF a few days ago, but only by six points. The power of that loss was evident in UCF’s Net. It was a Quad 1 loss. But it still pulled up their NET rating just a bit.
It’s possible that UCF could crash the field at some point, especially if they can fit a few more Quad 1 or Quad 2 wins on their ledger. A great opportunity comes next week when UCF faces Memphis, which is ranked No. 57 in NET as of Tuesday.
Big 12 Teams in Projected Field
The nine Big 12 teams in the current projected field are:
Kansas, No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. St. Francis (PA)/Eastern Illinois winner in Des Moines, Iowa
Texas, No. 3 seed in the South Region (Louisville) vs. Indiana State in Denver, Colo.
Baylor, No. 4 seed in the East Region (New York City) vs. Liberty in Albany, N.Y. (Baylor dropped from a No. 3 seed last week.
Iowa State, No. 5 seed in the West Region (Las Vegas) vs. Dayton in Orlando, Fla. (Iowa State moved from a No. 8 seed last week)
TCU, No. 6 seed in the West Region (Las Vegas) vs. Utah/Utah State winner in Denver, Colo. (moved up two seeds from last week)
West Virginia, No. 6 seed in the East Region (New York City) vs. Charleston in Greensboro, N.C. (WVU dropped two seeds from last week)
Kansas State, No. 7 seed in the East Region (New York City) vs. Maryland in Birmingham, Ala. (moved up two spots from last week)
Oklahoma, No. 10 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. New Mexico in Sacramento, Calif.
Oklahoma State, No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. Penn State in a First Four game in Des Moines, Iowa (moved into field this week)
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.