Friday, February 22, 2008

Big XII Bubble Watch

The Big XII race appears to be sorting itself out, as there is starting to be some seperation between the top 6 teams. The question still remains as to how many tournament teams the Big XII can muster. Oklahoma and Baylor remain the biggest question marks on the bubble as to whether the Big XII will get four, five, or six teams into the dance. The postseason outlook for the Big XII...

#5 Kansas (24-2) (9-2) RPI: 6; SOS: 58
W - vs. Arizona, at USC
L - at Kansas State
To Play: vs. #25 Kansas State, at #22 Texas A&M

- Kansas should be able to win the rematch against Kansas State, as the Wildcats have been struggling as of late, and the Jayhawks should be able to contain the Aggies front line. This would give Kansas either the #1 or #2 seed heading into the Big XII tournament and have them at 29-2. While the record is impressive, they haven't played the most difficult of schedules and if they don't win the Big XII they might not garner a #1 seed.

#7 Texas (22-4) (9-2) RPI: 5; SOS: 3
W - vs. Tennessee, at UCLA, vs. St. Mary's, vs. Kansas
L - at Missouri
To Play: vs. Oklahoma, at. #25 Kansas State
- Texas seems in prime position to take the Big XII title. Though they will need to play their best on the road against Kansas State, a game that will test their front line. Texas has played a great schedule and has three wins against the top 6 teams in the country. If they can manage to win out and make it to the finals of the Big XII tournament, they could sneak into a #1 seed, but they profile best as a #2 seed. If they drop two of their last five, they would probably become one of the most dangerous #3 seeds in the tournament.

#25 Kansas State (18-7) (8-3) RPI: 29; SOS: 33
W - at Oklahoma, vs. Texas A&M, vs. Kansas
L - vs. George Mason, at Xavier, at Missouri, at Texas Tech, at Nebraska
To Play: at Baylor, vs. Texas, at Kansas
- Losing to Missouri, Texas Tech, and Nebraska have really hurt Kansas State in conference play. They now have tough trips to Baylor and Kansas with a visit by Texas to close out the season. If Kansas State goes 2-3 the rest of the way, they should still be dancing, but a win over Baylor or Texas would help cement what has been a solid season for the Wildcats behind Michael Beasley. A 21-9 mark for the season could slot the Wildcats as a #5 or #6 seed that no one will want to play.

#22 Texas A&M (20-6) (6-5) RPI: 39; SOS: 80
W - at Ohio State, vs. Texas
L - at Texas Tech, at Kansas State, vs. Oklahoma State, at Texas
To Play: at Oklahoma, at Baylor, vs. #5 Kansas
- The Aggies have not made things easy on themselves with inconsistent play throughout the conference season. They have a tough stretch ahead of them and really need to take one or both of the OU and Baylor games. The Aggies need to win 3 of their last 5 to avoid going 8-8 in conference and putting themselves in a difficult position come tournament time. Even if the Aggies go 23-8, it might not be enough to make them a #6 seed in the tournament. And while this is an Aggies team that is built for close games in the post season, life as a #7 or #8 seed would make life extremely difficult.

Oklahoma (18-8) (6-5) RPI: 26; SOS: 13
W - vs. Arkansas, vs. Gonzaga, at West Virginia, Baylor twice
L - vs. Stephen F. Austin, at Kansas by 40, at Colorado
To Play: at #7 Texas, vs. #22 Texas A&M
- The Sooners have done well as of late and appear to be finally healthy heading down the stretch. They have impressive RPI and SOS numbers that should help them in front of the selection committee. They have been wildly inconsistent this season, looking very good at times, and at other times, far from it. They should win at least 3 of their final 5, which should be enough to get them in the dance, but a win over Texas A&M would be nice to solidify their place in the tournament. They should end up as a #8 or #9 seed in the dance, which would be a nice accomplishment for a young program under Jeff Capel.

Baylor (17-8) (5-6) RPI: 40; SOS: 38
W - at Notre Dame, at Texas A&M
L - vs. Arkansas, Oklahoma twice, at Oklahoma State
To Play: vs. #25 Kansas State, vs. #22 Texas A&M
- Baylor has CBS executives worried. What once was easily the feel good story of the tournament has fallen on shaky times, as Baylor has free falled the past few weeks as it has forgotten how to play defense. While three easy games will help to turn things around, Baylor really needs to protect their home floor against either one or both of the games against KSU and A&M. A 20-10 record should let the Bears sneak in, but they really need one more big win to cement their resume and not have to rely on mediocre computer numbers. One or two wins in the Big XII tournament wouldn't hurt either.

The Race for the NIT:

Texas Tech (14-11) (5-6) RPI: 62; SOS: 6
- Tough games down the stretch with this Saturday vs. Iowa State as the only one that they will be favored to win. Great computer numbers, but will need to pull an upset somewhere down the stretch.

Missouri (14-12) (4-7) RPI: 86; SOS: 21
- The kindest closing schedule of the NIT hopefulls, with games vs. Colorado, Oklahoma State, and Iowa State looming. Missouri could do the unthinkable if they suspend half their team and then make the NIT. I will be rooting for them.

Oklahoma State (13-12) (4-7) RPI: 111; SOS: 37
- This may come down to the Bedlam Series for the Cowboys as they will probably need to beat Oklahoma at home along with Nebraska at home and Missouri on the road if they hope to have any chance at the NIT. With their sluggish computer numbers, they will need to have a winning record overall and close to .500 in conference.

Nebraska (15-9) (4-7) RPI: 133; SOS: 134
- While the win over Kansas State gave them life, the computer numbers remind you that those 15 wins came against lesser foes. They will need to do some work and get more than just the visit from Colorado. That means beating Oklahoma at home or OSU on the road. Or if they prefer to dream big, A&M or Texas on the road. The computer numbers and the conference record might leave the Huskers at home.

Iowa State (14-12) (4-7) RPI: 135; SOS: 66
- If Iowa State hopes to see a postseason of any sort they will have to do their work away from Ames. Kansas and Kansas State are the only remaining visits they have, but don't count them out as wins are possible at Texas Tech, Missouri, and Colorado. But it may take them two or all three of those road games to make it to the promised land that is the NIT.

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