There is not much time remaining until the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee reveals the teams who will compete in March Madness.
The Campus Press provides this in-depth look at the tournament picture for Big 12 schools. Who’s in? Who’s out? And who is on the proverbial bubble? In addition to addressing the teams who are in the tournament picture, we provide a synopsis of what kind of impact the team can have if, or when, they make the bracket.
Teams whose bids are more secure than grandpa’s gun collection
These teams are in the tournament regardless of how they perform at the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City this week.
Vitals: Record: 27-4 overall, 14-2 in the Big 12
Strength of Schedule: 71
How they got here: The Jayhawks will head to Oklahoma City with their sights set on grabbing one of the four No. 1 seeds handed out by the selection committee. Kansas has a lot going in its favor. While its strength of schedule isn’t fabulous, Bill Self’s club has recorded impressive victories over the likes of Florida, Southern California and Boston College. More importantly, Kansas is playing its best basketball toward the end of the season. The Jayhawks are 9-1 in their last ten games, including an impressive come-from-behind victory this past Saturday against Texas. While other potential suitors for No. 1 seeds like North Carolina, Florida and UCLA have stubbed their collective toes recently, Kansas has gotten stronger as the season has worn on and that’s something the committee typically rewards.
Best case scenario: To win the conference tournament and earn a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Worst case scenario: Lose its first game in the Big 12 Championship. Even then, the Jayhawks would drop no lower than a three seed.
Synopsis: After clinching the Big 12 regular season championship with its victory over Texas, Kansas has gotten hot at the right time. While finishing the season on a high note doesn’t necessarily guarantee success in March, Kansas looks to be a very dangerous team. There are few squads in the country that can match the depth and skill Kansas possesses. The Jayhawks can go eight or nine deep and are extremely well-balanced. Guys like Julian Wright and Sasha Kaun man the interior while the likes of Sherron Collins, Mario Chalmers and Brandon Rush form an explosive backcourt. Don’t look for this team to be an upset victim in the first round like it’s been the past two years. Look for Kansas to make a run deep into March and to possibly stamp a ticket for the Final Four in Atlanta.
Vitals: Record: 25-5, 13-3
How they got here: A&M has been in the top 15 of the polls all season long and with good reason. The Aggies finished second in the conference behind Kansas after going 13-3 in league play. A&M played UCLA to a tough three-point loss in the non-conference portion of its schedule and has defeated both Kansas and Texas this season. The Aggies are led by do-it-all point guard Acie Law who averaged over 18 ppg to go along with a sparkling 5-2 Turnover to assist ratio. A&M’s grind-it-out style isn’t the prettiest to watch, but it’s effective.
Best case scenario: If A&M were to win the conference championship or even lose a hard-fought battle with Kansas in the final, it is possible they could end up with a No. 1 seed in the Tournament. At 25-5 and with strong RPI of 16, A&M possesses the resume to steal a No. 1 seed from a faltering giant, such as Florida or North Carolina, if it was to lose early in its conference tournament.
Worst case scenario: If A&M is upset in the first round of the conference championship, it’s possible it could fall to a three seed in the Tournament. For that to happen, though, other top tier teams in conferences like the Atlantic Coast (Boston College), Big East (Georgetown) and Pacific-10 (Washington State) would have to make strong tournament runs. Either way, A&M is well positioned for, at the worst, a three or four seed in the Big Dance.
Synopsis: Billy Gillespie is a tough, hard-nosed coach and his team plays the same way. Incorporating a very physical brand of basketball, A&M is excellent on the boards and plays fabulous team defense. If it wasn’t for Kevin Durant at Texas, Acie Law would’ve been the conference player of the year. Not only is Law an excellent point guard and floor general, but he’s also clutch. Law has hit numerous big shots for A&M over the course of his career, as seen last week when not once, but twice, he hit three-pointers to push Texas into double overtime. With Law’s play in the backcourt and A&M’s toughness up front with Joseph Jones and Antanas Kavaliauskus, this is a team that can play any style of basketball, which is always a good thing in March. The Aggies seem destined for the Sweet 16 at the worst and possibly a trip to the Final Four if they can get contributions from their secondary guys like guards Dominique Kirk and Josh Carter.
Vitals: Record: 22-8, 12-4
How they got here: A couple of weeks ago, Texas’s candidacy for an at-large berth could’ve been debated — but that’s no longer the case. Whatever doubt existed was erased by the Longhorns this week when they defeated Texas A&M at home. Texas’s vitals are not quite as impressive as the conference’s other two locks for the tournament, but they are good enough. Texas has two victories over Texas Tech and the aforementioned win over the Aggies. Those wins, combined with the fact that the Longhorns have suffered no losses to teams with an RPI of 100 or worse, should have Rick Barnes and his group feeling comfortable.
Best case scenario: If the Longhorns were to win the Big 12 Championship, which is a real possibility with the talent on this team, they could be looking at a three seed at the highest. The Longhorns are 7-3 in their last 10 ball games with one of those losses being in Lawrence against Kansas. Holding the Longhorns back from a top two seed is the team’s lack of a standout road win.
Worst case scenario: Lose in the first round of the conference tournament and Texas could risk sliding down to a five or six seed.
Synopsis: In case some people haven’t noticed, Kevin Durant is pretty good. The freshman dominated opponents unlike any 18-year-old has in the college game in a long time, possibly ever. On his way to a unanimous All-Big 12 first team selection and Conference Player of the Year honors, Durant averaged over 25 points and 11 rebounds per game this season. Durant is the type of player that can carry a team in March. His inside-outside game is pretty much unstoppable. Put a big man on him and he’ll step outside. Put a smaller guy on him and he’ll take advantage in the post. While Texas is young — three of its five starters are freshman — it’s not unprecedented for a team led by young players to make big runs in March (see Carmelo Anthony and Syracuse in 2003). D.J. Augustine is another talented freshman for Texas. Augustine quietly led the Big 12 in assists (6.83 per game). With Durant and Augustine leading this young club, don’t be shocked if Texas scares a lot of people in the tournament. They are probably too young for a trip to the Final Four, but nobody in the country wants to see this team in their bracket.
Better win to be sure
Vitals: Record: 20-11, 9-7
How they got here: What separates the Red Raiders from their league brethren in the upper category is how they’ve performed down the stretch. Bobby Knight’s club is just 5-5 in its last ten games which leaves some room for doubt. Tech has big wins over Kansas and Texas A&M (twice) which should make it feel pretty safe. What’s puzzling is how a team that can beat the likes of A&M and Kansas can lose to Baylor and Oklahoma (both have RPI’s over 100).
Best case scenario: Win a couple of games in the conference tournament before bowing out to one of the league’s big three. If Tech accomplishes that feat then it will have no worries come Selection Sunday. The team’s average RPI puts them right in line for an eight or nine seed.
Worst case scenario: Lose the first round of the Big 12 Championship to CU and sweat it out. A loss to the Buffs would add another wart to the Red Raiders resume and would give the selection committee reasons to waver on the their credentials.
Synopsis: Tech is a puzzling team. The loss to Baylor raises the eyebrows, but so do the wins over Kansas and A&M. The team has two very talented players in Jarrius Jackson and Martin Zeno, but after that the talent level drops precipitously. Bobby Knight has been to the tournament many times and obviously knows how to coach. Still, one has to wonder about this team’s ability to play past the first weekend of the tournament. If Jackson and Zeno are held in check, the Red Raiders don’t really have anyone who can pick up the slack. This team will play hard and is capable of one win but don’t count on much more than that.
Vitals: Record: 21-10, 10-6
How they got here: One glance at the record and it would appear Kansas State should feel fine about its tournament prospects. However, after glancing beyond the record, it is apparent that the Wildcats still have some work to do. Bob Huggins, like he often did at Cincinnati, scheduled a terrible non-conference slate for his team. The Wildcats have the 230-ranked non-conference strength of schedule in the country. The team’s best wins are against Southern California and Texas. On the bad side are losses against Colorado State and Xavier.
Best case scenario: Win two games in the conference championship and feel good. Win three games and it’s automatic.
Worst case scenario: Lose in the first round of the conference tournament and forget about playing in the Big Dance. The non-conference is just too terrible.
Synopsis: The guess here is that Kansas State is left out. In order to win two games in the conference tournament, the Wildcats will probably have to go through Kansas and the chances of that are slim. The selection committee really penalized teams last season for playing poor non-conference schedules. Unless the committee has a change of heart, expect Kansas State to learn its lesson this year.
And finally.get the automatic bid or go home