The Big 12 Bubble Picture Remains HazyPosted by Nate Kotisso on March 8th, 2017
From now until Sunday evening, those viewing the various conference tournament games around the country will see a flurry of “last four in,” “first four out” and “next four out” graphics that will make you question whether you’ve lived your life the way you hoped. Let’s work under the impression that Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia are already safe bets to make the upcoming Field of 68. In order to lower the risk of convulsing at the sight of these graphics, here is a guide of where Kansas State, TCU and Texas Tech stand heading into the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. So make sure to bookmark this article for the rest of the week. Your life depends on it.
*RPI and SOS numbers via CBSSports.com
Kansas State Wildcats
Record: 19-12 (8-10); RPI: 58, SOS: 53, Non-conference SOS: 223, KenPom: 32
- What they have: Thank goodness for conference play. The Wildcats put together a respectable 11-1 record through Christmas but their only non-conference win during that stretch was on a neutral court against Colorado State. Kansas State recovered from its weak schedule by snagging several important Big 12 victories versus West Virginia and Baylor at home and Oklahoma State on the road.
- Anything to add: One win at this week’s Big 12 Tournament would clinch it. Considering that the Wildcats’ first game would come against former #1 Baylor, a second victory over the Bears would provide plenty of justification. But it probably isn’t necessary. If K-State loses on Thursday, there is a distinct possibility that the Wildcats will still slide into the field on the overall strength of the Big 12.
- The Outcome: All Wildcat fans need to hope for is for their team gives Baylor a good game in the quarterfinals. Expect Kansas State to earn a bid as a #10-#12 seed on Sunday.
TCU Horned Frogs
Record: 17-14 (6-12); RPI: 79, SOS: 30, Non-conference SOS: 120, KenPom: 44
- What they have: While TCU doesn’t have a very good conference record, its overall resume is a little more well-rounded than many think. The Horned Frogs notched only two quality wins in Big 12 play (Iowa State, at Kansas State) but a few of their non-league wins are intriguing. Those victories include OVC Tournament champion Jacksonville State, Missouri Valley co-regular season champion/championship game participant/fellow bubble hopeful Illinois State and SWAC Tournament favorite Texas Southern.
- Anything to add: Make no mistake: TCU needs a serious run in Kansas City to earn its first NCAA Tournament bid in 19 years. The Horned Frogs would probably need to make it to Saturday’s championship game to even enter the conversation, but winning the tournament is the only certain way they get into the Big Dance. Making it to Saturday means getting past Kansas on Thursday and either Iowa State or Oklahoma State on Friday. A tall order, indeed.
- The Outcome: The Horned Frogs will give the Jayhawks their best shot on Thursday but get overwhelmed by all of Bill Self’s talent in the end. It will definitely be a solid building block for the new regime in Fort Worth, though. The NIT should come a-callin’.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Record: 18-13 (6-12); RPI: 107, SOS: 82, Non-conference SOS: 331, KenPom: 36
- What they have: The good thing for the Red Raiders is that their best moments happened on their home floor — wins against Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas State and TCU are all noteworthy. One of the problems for the Red Raiders is their best moments happened on their home floor. Texas Tech lost all nine of its road games in Big 12 play, won only one true road game all season long (at Richmond), and it played one of college basketball’s softest non-conference schedules.
- Anything to add: This is a strange place to find a team that returned much of the roster from an NCAA Tournament appearance. TCU can at least point to a few quality non-Big 12 wins, but the Red Raiders’ best such victory came against a Rice team that has improved but isn’t going dancing next week either. Winning the Big 12 Tournament is the only option for Texas Tech.
- The Outcome: Texas Tech has a solid chance of advancing past Texas and West Virginia — two teams it beat this year — to get to the semifinals. The Red Raiders would then face the winner of Baylor and Kansas State, two more opponents they have beaten. Since the Jayhawks lie on the opposite side of the bracket, a Texas Tech run to Saturday’s title game seems likelier than that of TCU. Still, a flimsy profile would be the undoing of this team if they don’t win four games in four days. NIT bound.