Monday, February 18, 2013

Sorting Out the Big 12

The Big 12 is a difficult problem to tackle from a tournament selection standpoint.  Baylor is obviously the best team in the league and has sewn up the regular season. No one else in the league can beat them.  TCU is pretty obviously the worst team in the conference, though Kansas State and Texas are certainly not tournament bound either.  This leaves six teams in the middle who keep failing to differentiate themselves.

It seemed like there was a little bit of distance between the top and the bottom of the pack before this last week.  The top teams were Iowa State and Oklahoma, the bottom teams were West Virginia and Kansas, and the middle was occupied by Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.  This stratification ended this week. The top teams went 1-3, the bottom teams went 3-1, and the middle teams went 3-1.  So now these six teams all have between 5 and 7 losses in conference.

The problem lies in tournament selection. It is not unprecedented for the Big 12 to get 7 teams into the tournament. It is unprecedented for a conference with only ten teams to get 7 teams into the tournament.  There's no rule against having 70% of a conference attend the big dance though, and the tournament selection committee may have a very difficult time justifying excluding one or two teams given the similar resumes of all six.

Assuming all six lose matchups against each other on the road (and also Baylor wherever) and win all matchups against each other at home (and also TCU, Texas and Kansas State wherever), the final standings in the Big 12 will look like this:

1. Baylor (18-0)
2. Iowa State (13-5)
3. Texas Tech (12-6)
4. Kansas (10-8)
4. West Virginia (10-8)
4. Oklahoma (10-8)
4. Oklahoma State (10-8)
8. Kansas State (4-14)
9. Texas (3-15)
10. TCU (0-18)

Given the ease of remaining schedule, Iowa State has the inside track to second place in the conference, but nothing is certain: the Cyclones just lost at Hilton to West Virginia.


Now in:
Oral Roberts

Now out:
Sam Houston St.

Conferences with multiple bids:
Big 12: 7
Big 10: 7
Big East: 6
SEC: 6
ACC: 5
Pac 12: 4
Atlantic 10: 3
Missouri Valley: 2
West Coast: 2

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