Three Thoughts on Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology for Feb. 21
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.
The Oklahoma State-West Virginia Fallout
I was curious to see what ESPN would do with Oklahoma State and West Virginia after the game on Monday night. To recap, before Monday’s game West Virginia was one of the Last Four In and Oklahoma State was one of the Last Four Byes. The Mountaineers soundly beat the Cowboys at home last night.
So what happened? West Virginia moved into the Last Four Byes, but Oklahoma State didn’t budge. The Cowboys are still there.
The loss didn’t hurt Oklahoma State at all, but the win helped West Virginia quite a bit. Both are still on the bubble, but there’s a big difference between the Last Four Byes and the Last Four In. That’s good news for both teams as the weekend games approach.
TCU Doesn’t Budge and More Top 16 Notes
With TCU’s loss Monday night it’s clear to me that the Big 12 will have no more than five teams among the Top 16 seeds when the field is released after the Big 12 Tournament.
The Horned Frogs still have a chance to move up to a No. 5 seed in the next few weeks, which would lead to a potential second-round matchup with a No. 4 seed (or even a No. 13 seed, if you’re thinking about a bracket buster upset). That’s TCU’s job now.
If there’s one team I’m watching down the stretch among the five Big 12 teams in the Top 16 seeds it’s Iowa State. The Cyclones are the closest to the edge as the last No. 3 seed. But it’s hard to say what would nudge them out of the Top 16 entirely.
Based on TCU not budging after a loss to Kansas, and Iowa State moving up a seed line despite its loss to Kansas State last weekend, the collective power of the Big 12 may keep Kansas, Baylor, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State in the Top 16 when it’s all said and done.
The Texas Tech Question
The Red Raiders are back in this thing. They’re among the Next Four Out. As of Tuesday, they’re seven spots away from the NCAA Tournament.
Texas Tech has four games remaining, beginning with Tuesday’s game against Oklahoma. Beating the Sooners on the road is a must have. It would be a Quad One victory. After that the Red Raiders host TCU, go to Kansas and host Oklahoma State.
To me, Texas Tech has to win at least two of those four down the stretch. A third would be a big bonus and here’s why. That would get them to seven league wins. In the last five non-COVID seasons the fewest games that any Big 12 team has won and reached the NCAA tournament is seven.
If you believe that metric, then Texas Tech needs to win three of the last four. But, the Red Raiders could also go on a run in Kansas City at the Big 12 Tournament. If Texas Tech can somehow get to 20 overall wins, they could make the committee’s life difficult. The race starts tonight.
Big 12 Teams in Projected Field
The eight Big 12 teams in the current projected field are:
Kansas, No. 1 seed in the West Region (Las Vegas) vs. UNC-Asheville in Des Moines, Iowa
Baylor, No. 2 seed in the East Region (New York) vs. Vermont in Denver, Colo.
Texas, No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. Youngstown State in Denver, Colo.
Kansas State, No. 3 seed in the Midwest Region (Kansas City) vs. UC Irvine in Des Moines, Iowa
Iowa State, No. 3 seed in the West Region (Las Vegas) vs. Eastern Washington in Columbus
TCU, No. 6 seed in the South Region (Louisville) vs. Nevada or Mississipppi State in Greensboro, NC
West Virginia, No. 12 seed in the East Region (New York) vs. UConn in Albany, NY
Oklahoma State, No. 11 seed in the East Region (New York) vs. Duke in Greensboro, NC
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.