Well, Kansas is now the regular season and tournament Big 12 champion — in a year in which they seemed the most vulnerable and many suspected they’d finally fall short after a 13 year run — and it’s time for nearly everyone to sit and wait on what the NCAA tournament selection committee will do tomorrow.
According to the bracket matrix, 100 out of 102 “experts” brackets right now have OU in the field of 68. At this point, OU fans should feel confident. Realistically, the only thing that could keep the Sooners out of the tournament would be for some crazy things to happen in those smaller conference tournaments. Conference USA, for example, was thought to be a 1-bid league with (relative) powerhouse Middle Tennessee. And then Middle Tennessee went ahead and lost to conference doormat Southern Miss in the tournament quarterfinal. Now, OU’s resume is probably better than Middle Tennessee’s but that surprising assassination put one more competitor on the bubble on the Sooners that Lon Kruger’s club didn’t really need.
The Mountain West was probably going to be a 1-bid league as well. Nevada, a legitimately good team ranked as the #24 team by KenPom won the conference by 2 games and is good enough to be an at-large team seeded somewhere around #7 or #8 by the tournament committee and, in all likelihood, would win the conference tournament and collect the Mountain West’s only tournament bid. And then Nevada was obliterated Red Wedding-style by San Diego St. in the MWC tournament quarterfinal. So now the MWC is going to end up with 2 bids since the conference champion will end up stealing a bid from some other at-large team.
The bottom line is that the greatest enemy to the Sooners’ chances of making the tournament are those teams who won’t earn at-large bids potentially winning their conference tournaments. So Sooner fans need to be pulling for Cincinnati, Wichita St., or Houston in the American Conference. We need to be pulling for Rhode Island or St. Bonaventure in the Atlantic-10. And it would help if Villanova would take care of business against Providence in the Big East as well. Providence is probably in as an at-large team, but you never can be too careful when you’ve lost 8 out of 10 and 11 out of 15. If Memphis wins the AAC tournament or Davidson wins the A-10, OU could be in trouble. (edit: Villanova escaped against Providence but Davison beat St. Bonaventure in the A-10 semis.)
Unfortunately, because of the Sooners’ poor play over the last 6 weeks or so, they’ve left their fate in the tournament committee’s hands and are forced to sit and watch TV while awaiting their fate tomorrow afternoon. It would really help OU out if the teams that should win do win over the next 24 hours. Chalk is good.
Thanks for reading.