Thursday, February 28, 2008

Big XII Bubble Watch

I think the Big XII is a little confused. Let me reiterate. You're supposed to win your games down the stretch to make the NCAA Tournament. It's been confusing as of late as the four bubble teams in the conference have been anything but solid down the stretch, as Nebraska and Oklahoma State play lights out basketball. The Big XII has gone from a conference that looked assured of 6 bids, and now thinks look like they could be anywhere from 3 to 6 bids, depending on how things shake out.

#5 Texas (24-4) (11-2) RPI: 3; SOS: 3
Remaining Games: @TTU, vs. NEB, vs. OSU
Things are looking up for the Horns securing a #1 seed for the tournament. Winning out, and making the Big XII Championship game would pretty much lock them into a #1 seed. Having won 8 straight, Texas is playing some of the best basketball in the country and boasts one of the toughest schedules.

#6 Kansas (25-3) (10-3) RPI: 8; SOS: 66
Remaining games: vs. KSU, vs. TTU, @ TAMU
If the Jayhawks don't find some life in the rematch against Kansas State, then this team is doomed. If they can finish the season winning at least 2 of their last 3 and doing as well as expected in the tournament, they will all but have a 2 seed locked up come March.

Kansas State (18-9) (8-5) RPI: 36; SOS: 17
Remaining games: @ KU, vs. COL, @ ISU
The Wildcats have lost 3 straight and things are falling apart quickly for their tournament hopes. It's hard to believe that the best player in the country would be out of the NCAAs, but Kansas State needs to win 2 of their last 3 to make themselves feel much better heading into the Big XII Tournament. Finishing third in the conference should get them in, but finishing third isn't as clear cut as it was two weeks ago. Granted, if they can beat Kansas, this is all moot.

Texas A&M (21-7) (7-6) RPI: 48; SOS: 73
Remaining games: @ OU, @ BU, vs. KU
The Aggies snapped an ugly 3 game losing streak by absolutely killing Texas Tech. But now the toughest three game stretch of anyone in the conference. They need to take at least 1 of the last 3 to leave themselves minimal work come Big XII Tournament time. If they could take 2 of the last 3, then A&M would be able to exhale and prepare for March.

Baylor (19-8) (7-6) RPI: 35; SOS: 42
Remaining games: vs. Mizzou, vs. TAMU, @ TTU
The Bears have won two straight to avoid a complete collapse at the end of the season, but they're not out of the woods yet. They need to take two out of their last three and probably win one in the tournament to make themselves feel safe. A win over Texas A&M would be huge for their resume. The RPI should help them come Selection Sunday.

Oklahoma (18-10) (6-7) RPI: 30; SOS: 8
Remaining games: vs. TAMU, @ OSU, vs. Mizzou
The Sooners did themselves no favors losing this weekend and then at Nebraska by no slight margin. Their RPI and strength of schedule keep them in the discussion, but this team is trying its best to be left out of the dance. If they can protect their home floor and win one in the conference tournament they should be in, though it would be nice if they could take all three. The season sweep of Baylor will help as well as wins over Gonzaga and WVU, but they have not played well since getting healthy, going 5-5 over their last 10.

The Race for the NIT:

Nebraska (17-9) (6-7) RPI: 100; SOS: 126
Despite being the second hottest team in the conference, I refuse to put them on the bubble. Let's just say they're getting close to being an NIT lock. The trip to Stillwater should be interesting as two of the hottest teams of late hook up.

Oklahoma State (15-12) (6-7) RPI: 86; SOS: 25
They've won 4 straight and could shatter Oklahoma's tournament hopes next week. They probably have done enough to earn themselves an appearence in the NIT.

Texas Tech (15-12) (6-7) RPI: 67; SOS: 6
The loss to Texas A&M was a bit of a surprise, or at least the margin. This Tech team has prided itself on its inconsistency all season, and will probably need to upset Texas, Kansas, or Baylor if it hopes to make the NIT field.

Missouri (15-13) (5-8) RPI: 100; SOS: 39
The two point loss to Oklahoma State probably did their post season hopes in unless they can steal a road game from OU or Baylor in the last week and a half. A valiant effort for a team that has played shorthanded for much of the year, but things like this tend to work themselves out in the end.

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