OKLAHOMA CITY — The removal of doubt always has a calming effect. Only the present matters.
Oklahoma will enter the Big 12 tournament at 4 p.m. today against Oklahoma State without concerns over the past or the future.
The reason: the Sooners know a 28-27 overall record and 8-16 effort in the Big 12 is not enough to get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. Without a Big 12 tournament title, the season is over.
“Anyone can win at this point,” OU’s Mac James said. “It’s all about who can get hot. We know we can beat Oklahoma State and that’s Game 1. That’s what we’re focused on.”
Tournament winners excel at staying in the present. They take the clichés to heart and play just one game at at time.
Low-seeded teams making deep runs in the Big 12 tournament are not unprecedented. Five times in the event’s 17-year history, a team seeded fifth or lower has won. However, the sixth-seed has been the cutoff point. The number. seven and eight seeds have never won a Big 12 tournament title. Number seven seeds have reached the title game twice. Missouri in 2012 was the only team to reach the championship from the bottom of the bracket.
The Sooners are not focusing on the seed anymore. They spent the last three weeks of the regular season just hoping to scrounge together enough wins to grab that eighth spot.
They had it going into last week’s Bedlam series. OU dropped two of three to the Cowboys (41-14, 18-6) but played some of its best games of the season, including the 8-1 win in last Saturday’s finale.
Perhaps OU is the team that will make the historic run. It could advance to the title game by taking out fifth-seeded Texas (36-13, 13-11) or fourth-seeded Texas Tech (40-16, 14-10). Both swept the Sooners in the regular season.