Written by Mark Fought, BlueGoldSports.com Data Analyst
With the non-conference portion of the Big 12 teams’ schedules coming to a close its time to look ahead at conference play, the conference tournament and project where each team might end up at the end of the season. We’ll look back at these predictions in March when the NCAA tournament field is set and see how clear our crystal ball was – or was not.
First, I’ll project the final non-conference records of each team.
Non-Conf. Final Non-conf. Projected Final Non-conf.
School Record Opponents Outcome Record
Baylor 10-1 Norfolk State Win 11-1
Iowa State 9-1 Miss. Valley St. Win 11-1
South Carolina Win
Kansas 9-2 Kent St. Win 11-2
Kansas State 7-4 Texas Southern Win 8-5
Oklahoma 8-3 George Mason Win 9-3
Oklahoma State 9-2 Missouri Win 10-2
TCU 12-0 Tennessee State Win 13-0
Texas 10-2 Rice Win 11-2
Texas Tech 9-3 North Texas Win 10-3
West Virginia 11-1 Virginia Tech Win 12-1
Now, I’ll take a shot at predicting how the conference’s teams will fare in Big 12 play.
Big 12 Final
School Record Record
Baylor 8-10 19-11
Iowa State 11-7 22-8
Kansas 12-6 23-8
Kansas State 6-12 14-17
Oklahoma 9-9 18-12
Oklahoma State 9-9 19-11
TCU 8-10 21-10
Texas 12-6 23-8
Texas Tech 5-13 15-16
West Virginia 10-8 22-9
Now, I have to predict the Big 12 tournament. Here’s where I think the seeds will shake out:
1 – Texas
2 – Kansas
3 – Iowa State
4 – West Virginia
5 – Oklahoma State
6 – Oklahoma
7 – Baylor
8 – TCU
9 – Kansas State
10 – Texas Tech
In the Big 12 tournament the 8 and 9 seeds and the 7 and 10 seeds face off against each other. I’ll go with TCU and Baylor winning those games, respectively. Texas would then get TCU and Kansas would get Baylor. I see those two teams playing in the Big 12 title game, so I’ll give them wins in the second round. The other games would be 4th seeded WVU against 5th seeded Oklahoma State and 3rd seeded Iowa State versus 6th seeded Oklahoma. I like WVU and ISU to advance to the semifinals, where WVU loses to Texas and ISU falls to Kansas. I’ll pick Texas to win the conference championship game in a tight one over Kansas.
If those developments come to pass, here is what the final records of the conference teams would look like, in order of the highest number of wins:
Iowa State 23-9
West Virginia 23-10
Okla. State 19-12
Texas Tech 15-17
Kansas St. 14-18
The above projection shows 6 conference teams with 20 victories at the end of the season. If the projected final records above come to pass, just how many teams might the Big 12 – currently the top-rated RPI conference in the land –get into March Madness? Could the conference send as many as 7 of its 10 schools into the tournament, or even 8 schools?
My prediction? The following teams make it to the NCAA tournament with no “bubble team” worries:
It then would come down to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State as “bubble teams”. 18 wins might not be enough – even against a rugged Big 12 league schedule – to get into March Madness, but 19 wins might. Given that, my prediction is that the Cowboys break through the bubble and make it to the dance, but the Sooners end up just missing March Madness. That would make 7 Big 12 teams in the NCAA tournament, which would be quite an accomplishment for the conference.
What is clear from the above analysis is that a conference win-or-loss shift of just one game either way could be huge in terms of a Big 12 team making the NCAA tournament or not, but that’s what conference games are for – deciding who qualifies for the NCAA tournament and who gets relegated to the National Invitation Tournament, or worse yet, sitting at home watching both tournaments.
The hope from here is that as many conference schools get into the tournament as possible and, of course, that WVU makes another trip to the Final Four!
Conference play will soon be upon us. To slightly modify the Olympic phrase, “Let the Big 12 conference games begin!”