Three Thoughts for Big 12 Men’s Bracketology for Jan. 31
The Big 12 has eight 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.
Play Your Way In
That’s exactly what Oklahoma and West Virginia did last week. Last Tuesday, both teams were on the bubble.
West Virginia defeated Texas Tech on the road on Wednesday, and that vaulted them into the Field of 68. Then, on Saturday, the Mountaineers beat Auburn at home, which not only got them off the bubble but put them among the last four byes. In bracketology parlance, that means that West Virginia is firmly in the field (for now).
Meanwhile, Oklahoma got off to a rough start by losing to TCU on the road. But on Saturday they beat then- No. 2 Alabama handily at home, and that win slid the Sooners into the Field of 68. Right now Oklahoma is the last team in the event. And their First Four matchup is no gimme. The Sooners would have to play Kentucky.
For programs like West Virginia and Oklahoma — and current bubble team Oklahoma State for that matter — the margins are going to be small moving forward. Every win will help, and every loss will hurt just a little bit more.
Small Seed Changes
We saw the impact of small seeding changes after Monday night’s games.
First, Texas beat Baylor at home. That win nudged Texas up to the No. 2 seed line. But it didn’t hurt Baylor, as it remained a No. 4 seed.
In the other game, Iowa State lost to Texas Tech in overtime. That hurt Iowa State as the Cyclones dropped to a No. 3 seed. Again the margins are small this time of year.
It’s not clear if the win helped Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders are not on the bubble. But for a team that didn’t have a Big 12 win going into that game, every win will help.
I suspect we won’t see drastic seed changes moving forward out of the top six teams in the conference unless one of them goes on a losing streak as Kansas did a couple of weeks ago. Even then, The Jayhawks only dropped from a No. 1 to a No. 2 seed.
I think that shows how much the Bracketology projections respect the quality of the Big 12.
The Week Ahead
There are going to be plenty more opportunities for teams to help with their credentials for March. On Tuesday night, Kansas hosts Kansas State and TCU hosts West Virginia. We have another Bedlam game on Wednesday between Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. Then on Saturday, we have two more Top 25 matchups — Kansas at Iowa State and Texas at Kansas State. Not to mention TCU travels to Oklahoma State, West Virginia hosts Oklahoma and Baylor hosts Texas Tech. Some bubbles could burst this week.
Big 12 Teams in Projected Field
The eight Big 12 teams in the current projected field are:
Kansas, No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. Siena in Des Moines, Iowa (was No. 2 seed last week)
Texas, No. 2 seed in the East Region (New York) vs. Eastern Washington in Denver, Colo. (was No. 4 last Tuesday)
Kansas State, No. 3 seed in the South Region (Louisville) vs. Southern Illinois in Des Moines, Iowa (was No. 2 seed last Tuesday)
Iowa State, No. 4 seed in the East Region (New York) vs. Louisiana in Albany, NY (was No. 3 seed last Tuesday)
TCU, No. 4 seed in the West Region (Las Vegas) vs. Utah Valley in Orlando, Fla. (was No. 4 seed last Tuesday)
Baylor, No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. UC Santa Barbara in Orlando, Fla. (Was No. 4 seed last Tuesday)
West Virginia, No. 11 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. San Diego State in Denver, Colo. (was on bubble last week)
Oklahoma, No.11 seed in the East Region (New York) vs. Kentucky in First Four game in Dayton, Ohio (was on bubble last week)
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.