Is The Dream of an NCAA Tournament Nine-Bid Big 12 Dead?
Is the dream of a nine-bid NCAA Tournament Big 12 dead? I couldn’t help but think that might be the case after Saturday’s Big 12 men’s basketball games.
Eight bids still seems reasonable. But nine?
After the dust settled on Saturday, the three teams that truly needed wins — Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and West Virginia — all lost.
How did it impact Bracketology seeding? West Virginia remained among the last four byes, which is the step before the last four in. By the way, Oklahoma State would be the last team in the tournament. As for Texas Tech, the Red Raiders went from being one of the first four out to being one of the second four out.
The Big 12 getting eight teams in the tournament would be the most in the league’s 10-team era. By percentage, it would be one of the best percentages of a league’s teams getting into March Madness.
From my perspective, the Big 12’s Top 6 teams are helping the other four (yes, even Oklahoma) with their high NET ratings and their high Ken Pom ratings. That’s part of what is keeping these three Big 12 teams on the bubble entering the final week in spite of league records that are under-.500.
It’s possible that the rest of the league could continue to pull those teams up. But there are factors working against them now, not the least of which is that there are only two regular-season games remaining.
Earlier this year I did research on the past five non-COVID seasons and discovered a few things as it relates to the Big 12. First, teams that win 20 games before the Big 12 Tournament cruise into the NCAA Tournament. So, congratulations to Kansas, Texas, Kansas State and Baylor. You’re in.
All TCU needs to do is win one game in the final week and the Horned Frogs are in, too.
Still Work to Do
As for the other five teams, well, there’s work to do. But Iowa State has a leg up. Why? The Cyclones already have eight league wins. The fewest league wins any Big 12 teams has had in getting to the NCAA’s is seven. Iowa State did it last season. Oklahoma did it a few years ago.
The Cyclones are, most likely, in based on that.
Oklahoma State will probably make it seven. The Cowboys have the minimum league wins, historically. But, Texas Tech and West Virginia only have five.
By the way, those two teams with seven league wins that reached the NCAA Tournament? Iowa State had 20 wins going into the Big 12 Tournament and Oklahoma had 19.
Going into the week, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and West Virginia all have 16 wins.
This is where the math gets interesting.
One team managed to get into the NCAA Tournament with 18 wins before the Big 12 Tournament. Oklahoma did it in 2018 with eight league wins. Baylor had 18 wins before the Big 12 Tournament that same season. The Bears had the same number of league wins. But, the Bears went to the NIT.
Eighteen is important because that’s the most league wins those three teams can reach before Kansas City.
Plus, there are two more problems. First, at least one of them won’t get to 18. Oklahoma State plays Texas Tech on Saturday in the league’s final game. Second, it’s likely that Texas Tech and West Virginia will play each other in the Big 12 Tournament.
You can work out all the scenarios you want, but it’s clear that at least one of these teams won’t have 18 wins by Kansas City. Heck, it could end up being all three, given the schedules.
From here on, it’s desperation time for the Cowboys, the Red Raiders and the Mountaineers. The math doesn’t lie.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard