For years, the Big 12 has been the best basketball conference in the NCAA. Texas Tech basketball fans are aware of just how tough life in this league can be and were reminded of that on Tuesday night.
According to WarrenNolan.com, the Big 12 is the highest-rated league in the country with its members having a 145-34 non-conference record. Also, this week there are eight Big 12 teams ranked in the Top 25, double the next closest conference.
What's interesting is that there could be even more Big 12 teams than that to make the NCAA Tournament. So let's take a look at where each team in the league stands as far as making the Big Dance as we open the critical month of February.
Big 12 teams that are definitely out of the NCAA Tournament
The following teams have little to no shot at making the NCAA Tournament:
- Oklahoma State
- West Virginia
Each of the the three teams above ranks 72nd or lower in the NCAA NET Rankings and all three are at least two games below .500 in conference play. What's more, none have more than two Quad-1 wins on the season.
The only team from this group with any hope of squeaking into the field of 68 is UCF but that's going to be tough. Ranked 72nd in the NET, they are just 3-5 in Big 12 play but they do own a win over Kansas and a win on the road at Texas.
Still, they are just 3-7 combined in Quad-1 and Quad-2 games. What's more, they still have two games against Texas Tech, and one game against BYU, Iowa State, Houston, and TCU left on the schedule. That's a tough row to hoe for the Knights to get into the Big Dance.
Big 12 teams that are on the bubble
The following Big 12 teams are currently on the NCAA Tournament bubble:
- Kansas State
As of February 1, the Longhorns and Bearcats look to be in the field while the Wildcats are on the outside looking in. However, each team has time to rise or fall.
K-State needs to start racking up some Quad-1 wins as Jerome Tang's team is just 1-4 in such contests. They still have home games against Kansas, TCU, BYU, and Iowa State so they have opportunities to improve on that mark. However, road games at BYU, Texas, and Cincy will all be opportunities for potential Quad-1 losses.
Texas is one of the more polarizing teams in the country and not because of the usual general hatred of the Longhorns. Some people see their wins over Baylor, Oklahoma, and Cincy as signs that Texas deserves to get a bid but in the non-conference, their best win was over LSU which is just 95th in the NET.
The Horns missed out on a golden opportunity to cement their spot in the field when they couldn't knock off Houston in Austin on Monday in a game that UT led in the final minute before losing in overtime. Their upcoming schedule is brutal with games at Tech, Houston, Kansas, and Baylor still to come as well as home games against Iowa State and Oklahoma.
Cincinnati sits at No. 34 in the net but they are just 2-5 in Quad-1 games and 1-1 in Quad-2 games. Also, their out-of-conference strength of schedule is just 296th in the nation. They too have a tough road ahead with road games at Tech, Houston, TCU, and OU and home games with Houston and Iowa State. That's why it wouldn't be safe to bet on the Bearcats making it into the tournament at this point.
Big 12 teams that are safely in the field at this point
- Iowa State
- Texas Tech
All of the above teams are playing for seeding at this point. Houston appears to be the only team in the conference with a shot at a No. 1 seed. Currently, the Cougars are No. 1 in the NET ranking and that will carry significant weight come Selection Sunday.
Kansas would slot in as a No. 2 seed right now partly because of their name brand and partly because of the fact that they play in the Big 12, which the selection committee would look favorably upon. However, they could slide because they still have to play at Tech, Oklahoma, Baylor, K-State, and Houston while hosting Houston, BYU, and Texas.
BYU and Baylor seem to be in the 3-5 seed range. Iowa State could be a solid 4-5 seed given how hot they have been lately. Tech, OU, and TCU all could fall between a 5-8 seed right now but each could move up with favorable schedules in February.
Currently, all eight Big 12 teams in the top 25 are safely in the tournament field. What's more, three more could play their way in. That means 11 of the 14 teams in the league still have legitimate shots at hearing their name called on Selection Sunday.
If all 11 make the Big Dance, it would tie the 2011 Big East for the most teams from one conference in one NCAA Tournament. Given how good the Big 12 is this year, that's a record that could be in danger of being matched next month.