The Big 12 only has six teams in the men’s basketball bracket in the latest ESPN Bracketology for the Men’s NCAA Tournament next March.
Who’s moving up and who’s moving down? Let’s dig into this week’s update.
The High Six
Even though the Big 12 does not have a No. 1 seed right now, the Big 12 does have an incredible six teams among the Top 16 in the bracket.
That includes Kansas, which lost on Monday night to Baylor. The Jayhawks dropped off the No. 1 seed line, and they may drop a bit further if they can’t beat Kentucky on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Kansas State has moved up to the No. 2 seed line, while Iowa State is a No. 3 seed. The timing couldn’t be perfect because both the Wildcats and the Cyclones play each other on Tuesday night. Texas is a No. 3 seed, while TCU is a No. 4 seed. Baylor moved into a No. 4 seed and solidified itself with that win over Kansas.
I’m not sure if having six teams from the same conference among the top 16 seeds is sustainable. But, for now, it speaks to the quality of the top six teams in the Big 12. The conference really doesn’t have a peer when it comes to high-level, high-end basketball in this country.
The Big 12 Bubble
So the Big 12 only has six teams in the bracket. But it doesn’t mean that the league can’t get more in the tournament. All the evidence you need is to look at the First Four Out.
The first three teams listed are Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia. For now, their bubbles have burst.
The Sooners have lost two straight and are in dire need of a win when they play TCU on Tuesday.
Oklahoma State has won two straight, including wins over Oklahoma and Iowa State, and the Cowboys head to Texas tonight.
On Wednesday, West Virginia faces Texas Tech, which is winless in Big 12 action. It’s obviously a big game for Texas Tech because the Red Raiders need the win. But West Virginia needs that victory, too. The wins are going to get harder and harder to come by come February.
It’s possible all three of these teams could be on the bubble the rest of the way, toggling in and out of Bracketology. By mid-March, I think we will probably see just one of these teams make the Tournament. How they do against one another will be a key component in which one makes it.
The Big 12-SEC Challenge
The Big 12 has always looked at its cross-conference games with the SEC as a de facto conference game. The league looks at it as an additional data point that the NCAA tournament committee can consider when it comes time to determine the 68-team field.
The average fan may not see these games as that important, but for many of the Big 12 teams they represent potential quad one or quad two wins. Baylor has a solid game against Arkansas, which was ranked just last week. Kansas, of course, goes to Kentucky. TCU goes to Mississippi State and while the Bulldogs aren’t among the best in the SEC, that is not a game the Horned Frogs want to lose. Oklahoma has to host No. 2 Alabama. That would be a huge get for the Sooners if they could pull off the upset. Same for West Virginia, which hosts Auburn.
Follow along on Saturday as the Big 12 plays the SEC for the final time (the challenge goes away after this year as the SEC will face the ACC moving forward). It will matter come March. At least to some teams.
Big 12 Teams in Projected Field
The six Big 12 teams in the current projected field are:
Kansas, No. 2 seed in the East Region (New York) vs. UMass Lowell in Des Moines, Iowa (dropped from No. 1 seed last week)
Kansas State, No. 2 seed in the South Region (Louisville) vs. Samford in Des Moines, Iowa (was No. 4 seed last Tuesday)
Iowa State, No. 3 seed in the West Region (Las Vegas) vs. Colgate in Columbus, Ohio (was No. 4 seed last Tuesday)
Texas, No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. Southern Illinois in Denver, Colo. (was No. 2 last Tuesday)
TCU, No. 4 seed in the West Region (Las Vegas) vs. UC Santa Barbara in Orlando, Fla. (was No. 4 seed last Tuesday)
Baylor, No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. Liberty in Orlando, Fla. (Was No. 5 seed last Tuesday)
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.