KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The anxiety Oklahoma’s players are experiencing is going to last for about 48 more hours. The NCAA Tournament bracket will be released at 5 p.m. Sunday on CBS. Only then, will the Sooners know for sure if they’re in the field of 68.
The waiting will be the hardest part.
“We hope we’re in. We think we should be in. But it’s not about us; it’s about the committee and what they feel,” OU forward Romero Osby said after Thursday’s 73-66 loss to Iowa State in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament. “We have lost two straight games, so they’re going to look at that. But hopefully we’re still able to make it.”
The loss to the Cyclones meant OU failed to add an emphatic late-season victory to its resumé. OU has lost four of its last 10 games and has only had two road victories — at Baylor Jan. 30 and at Texas Tech Feb. 20 — in conference play. The loss to Iowa State won’t hurt the Sooners’ chances, but the loss to TCU in the regular-season finale raised doubts about OU’s qualifications.
All those issues are legitimate, but as far as getting into the field, OU shouldn’t have to worry. There have been two pillars to an at-large berth for Big 12 Conference teams. The Sooners have built both.
Since 2000, Big 12 teams ranked in the top 49 of the final RPI rankings and have double-digit conference victories have always gotten in.
(It might go back further, but accurate RPI rankings heading into the NCAA Tournament from the 1990s were not obtainable.)
The Sooners (20-11) were No. 39 in the RPI on Friday afternoon and they went 11-7 in the Big 12 Conference.
The only Big 12 team that’s ever failed to get in with at least 10 conference wins was Kansas State in 2007. The Wildcats were No. 80 in the RPI that year.