Big 12 hoping to go dancing with 5 teams on NCAA Tournament bubble
AP Basketball Writer
The Atlantic Coast Conference had more teams in the NCAA Tournament selection committee’s top 16 with four. The Big 12 had more teams near the top and could be right behind the ACC when the actual selections are made.
Through Thursday’s games, the Big 12 had three teams that should be locks: No. 3 Kansas , No. 4 Baylor and No. 9 West Virginia .
The Jayhawks were picked as the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Regional, the Bears were No. 1 in the South and the Mountaineers fourth the West. Even with losses by Baylor and West Virginia this week, those teams should be in.
How many more teams make the field of 68 will depend on what happens over the next three weeks.
Oklahoma State (17-9, 6-7 Big 12) should be in good shape despite a losing conference record. The Cowboys knocked off fellow bubble team TCU, though lost to another Big 12 bubbler, Kansas State.
Oklahoma State’s only nonconference losses were to North Carolina and Maryland, with victories over Connecticut and Georgetown on its resume.
Iowa State (16-9, 8-5) picked up a huge win by knocking off Kansas in Lawrence on Feb. 4 and put a dent in Kansas State’s NCAA hopes with an 87-79 victory in Manhattan on Wednesday. The Cyclones have plenty of chances to boost their resume, starting with Saturday’s game against fellow bubble team TCU.
Needing a win Wednesday night, the Frogs (17-9, 6-7) stumbled with a 71-68 loss to Oklahoma State. TCU still has chances to boost its resume with games against Iowa State, Kansas and West Virginia coming up, but can’t afford any slip-ups against the lower-end Big 12 teams.
Kansas State (16-10, 5-8) missed a big chance with its loss to Iowa State, though it does have a road win over Baylor on its resume. The Wildcats don’t have any more games against the Big 12’s top three, so they have a chance to make a late-season run.
Texas Tech (17-9, 5-8) appeared to be headed toward the NIT at best just a week ago, but Monday night’s win over Baylor provides bubble life. Road games against West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Kansas State could make the difference in the Red Raiders’ season.
ON THE RISE
Michigan. The Wolverines (17-9, 7-6 Big Ten) had a good week last week by beating rival Michigan State at home and Indiana on the road. Michigan took a bigger step toward the NCAA Tournament on Thursday night by beating No. 11 Wisconsin . Minnesota, another Big Ten team on the bubble, is up next on Sunday.
Arkansas. In need of a resume-boosting win, the Razorbacks (19-7, 8-5 SEC) came through Wednesday night by knocking off No. 21 South Carolina in Columbia. A road win over a Top-25 team helps offset some of the slip-ups earlier in the season.
Seton Hall. The Pirates (16-9, 6-7 Big East) were on the wrong side of the ledger last week after losing to St. John’s. A win over No. 23 Creighton puts them right back in the mix, with opportunities against No. 2 Villanova and No. 24 Butler coming up.
Illinois State. The Redbirds (22-5, 14-1 MVC) took a big hit with a 41-point loss to Wichita State. They’ve responded with four straight wins, including a one-point victory over Missouri State on Wednesday.
Rhode Island. Scoring 43 points in a loss to Fordham is not going to look good for Rhody (16-9, 8-5 A10), even with a win over current No. 18 Cincinnati on the resume.
Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets (15-11, 6-7 ACC) failed on a chance to boost their resume with Wednesday’s loss to Miami , which played without JaQuan Newton. The ACC offers plenty of opportunities to pick up marquee wins, so there’s still time.
Indiana. If the injury-ravaged Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9 Big Ten) had not already popped their NCAA bubble, three straight losses — including Wednesday to Minnesota — will likely finish them off.
Memphis. A surprising loss to Temple does not bode well for the Tigers (18-7, 9-4 AAC), who have two losses to teams outside the RPI top 100.