As the NCAA Tournament closes in fast, it’s time to really start digging into who’s in and who’s out.
Ask any bracketologist and they’ll tell you this is one of the wildest bubbles in years, with ESPN only projecting 20 locks up to this point in the season.
Most experts project the Big 12 will get five teams in barring any miracle runs in the Big 12 Tournament. Let’s look at the teams that are locks and those that are teetering on the bubble.
Current Projection: No. 1 Seed
KU is locked in on the top line and is the leader to be the number one overall seed in the tournament. Following their win against Baylor on Saturday, the matchup against Oklahoma State on Big Monday looked like a classic trap game against a desperate team. Kansas quickly put those worries to bed, ultimately winning the game by 25 after a dominant second-half performance. KU looks like the best team in the country and their ceiling is cutting down the nets in Atlanta (feverishly knocks on wood).
Current Projection: No. 1 Seed
The Big 12 looks to have the two best teams in the country and unless the Bears suffer several late-season upsets, they’ll be right there with KU on the top line. The Bears have all the pieces a team needs to contend in March. Playmaking guards who can get their own shots, unselfish big men who do the dirty work, and a stifling defense. The biggest question mark for Baylor is their coach, but Scott Drew hasn’t made the bone-headed decisions that often cost his team in years past. Baylor is good enough to win it all and will be disappointed if it gets knocked out any sooner than the Elite Eight.
Current Projection: No. 7 Seed
West Virginia is a lock to get in even after losing five of their last six games. The Mountaineers are dominant down low and should have the upper hand in the paint against most opponents. Even with the ability to punish teams inside, this group just seems off. They don’t have a go-to creator like they’ve had in the past and the defense can get sloppy at times. West Virginia could be primed for a first-round upset.
Current Projection: No. 8 Seed
ESPN currently lists Texas Tech as “Should Be In”, but they look like as close to a lock as you can get. The Red Raiders are still ranked 21st in the NET ranking after losing to OU. This team looks to be destined for a seven or eight seed, but they have a chance to move up, as two of their last three games are against KU and Baylor. Chris Beard showed last year that he can get it done in March and freshman Jahmi’us Ramsey can be the best player on the court in any game. Don’t be surprised to see this team pull an upset and make it to the second weekend.
Current Projection: Last Four In
As of Wednesday, Joe Lunardi has OU as one of the last four teams in. The 14-point win over Texas Tech on Tuesday was a huge boost and Oklahoma has several more chances to get quality wins in the regular season. OU still has games against West Virginia, TCU, and Texas. Losses in any of those games won’t kill the Sooners but winning all three would pretty much guarantee that OU will get in. Even if they do make it, it’s hard to see this team winning more than one game. They’ve just been too inconsistent to be a viable threat for any kind of deep run in March.
Current Projection: Next Four Out
Texas has the same record as Oklahoma with arguably a better win (they beat West Virginia, Oklahoma beat Texas Tech), but they’ve also tripped up against the bottom-tier teams in the league. With golden opportunities to pad their resume in the last three games (at Texas Tech and at Oklahoma are their next two), Shaka Smart has a shot at squeaking Texas in the tournament to save his job for another year. It feels like Texas and Oklahoma are in the exact same position, and only one of them will wind up getting in. The last two weeks of the season will decide which one.