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Big 12 basketball: Sooners in great shape

by Berry Tramel Modified: February 17, 2014 at 9:50 am •  Published: February 17, 2014

Ryan Spangler and OU are in good shape in the Big 12 race. But Kansas is still in command. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
Ryan Spangler and OU are in good shape in the Big 12 race. But Kansas is still in command. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

Time to rank the Big 12 basketball teams again, and the status of the Bedlam rivals hardly could be more vast. The Sooners are in good shape to challenge for second place. The Cowboys are threatening to finish ninth.

Let’s rank the squads based on their likely conference finish and also analyze their NCAA Tournament status.

1. Kansas (10-2, 19-6): The Jayhawks have a much healthier lead than the one game the conference standings show. Texas is just one game back of KU, but the Longhorns have just two home games remaining, out of six. Every other team in the league has three home games left. Kansas is playing for NCAA Tournament seed. A 2-3 seed seems likely.

2. Oklahoma (8-5, 19-7): The Sooners are a game and a half behind Texas, but OU’s schedule is much easier than Texas’ down the stretch. And if the Sooners beat UT in Norman, OU would have the tiebreaker over the ‘Horns. The Sooners seem safely in the NCAA Tournament. The seed could be as high as fifth or so with a strong finish, or as low as 10th.

3. Texas (9-3, 20-5): The remaining four road games for the Longhorns are at Iowa State, Kansas, OU and Texas Tech. So the race for second is much tighter than the race for first. Still, Texas is safely in the NCAA and with a couple of nifty road wins could secure a seed as high as fourth.

4. Iowa State (7-5, 19-5): The Cyclones, West Virginia and Kansas State basically are tied when factoring in home/road breakdowns. But Iowa State has the edge, because it still gets to play at TCU. Iowa State will be in the NCAA Tournament, but its non-conference schedule was not great. The Cyclones might need to finish strong to get anything above a 7-8 seed.

5. Kansas State (7-5, 17-8): The Wildcats came oh so close to contention for second place, but KSU squandered a late lead at Baylor and lost in two overtimes. KSU will make the NCAAs but seems relegated to a precarious seed, in the 8-9-10- range, at best.

6. West Virginia (7-6, 15-11): The Mountaineers have rallied to join the haves of the Big 12 race. But a rough non-conference performance could keep WVU out of the NCAAs. The Mountaineers still have to play at Iowa State and OU, plus they host Kansas. A 9-9 conference record won’t get the Mountaineers into the tournament.

7. Texas Tech (5-7, 14-11): The Red Raiders have gone from pushover to solid in the course of a season. You’d think they had hired a coach or something in Lubbock.

8. Baylor (4-8, 16-9): The Bears get the nod over OSU for eighth because Baylor has Kansas in the rearview mirror. OSU still has to host Kansas. Could Baylor rally and make the NCAAs? Well, the Bears beat Kentucky in non-conference and once were 12-1, with the only loss to Syracuse in Hawaii. If Baylor got to 8-10, could it sneak into the NCAAs? Doubtful, and to get to 8-10 the Bears have to win at West Virginia, Texas or Kansas State. To get  to 9-9, Baylor has to win at two of those.

9. Oklahoma State (4-8, 16-9): Same boat as Baylor, other than the Cowboys having to host KU, which figures to be another loss. But while that schedule means Baylor likely is to finish ahead of OSU, the Cowboys have a better shot at a miracle NCAA Tournament bid, because a victory over Kansas would help immensely.

10. TCU (0-12, 9-15): The Frogs can go ahead and make Spring  Break plans.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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