NORMAN — After Sunday’s sweep-dodging 5-4 victory over Oklahoma State, Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway looked on the bright side.
At the very least, his team had snapped a four-game losing streak — its longest of the season — and maintained a slim hope that it could still win the Big 12 Conference regular season-title.
The Sooners needed something positive to cling to. Where they finish in the conference standings is going to be critical, as far as the NCAA tournament is concerned. For that matter, the Big 12 tournament, which begins May 22 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, will have a loud voice, too.
“I think we went from a one- or two-bid league early on because of our RPIs. I think we’re at five right now,” Golloway said Sunday. “With the Big 12 (tournament) and what happens the last weekend, we could get to six. I hope that’s what transpires. I think you’ll see a fifth or sixth place team in our league go and win a regional somewhere — I really do.”
The Big 12 has finally moved up in the Ratings Percentage Index. Golloway’s prediction is a far cry from April, when OU was the only team in the RPI’s top 50.
Big 12 teams in the top 45 have always been considered safe bets for at-large berths to the NCAA tournament. The Sooners (35-16, 12-9 Big 12) are sitting right at No. 45 with four regular-season games left. They host Dallas Baptist at 6:30 p.m. today at L. Dale Mitchell Park. However, the three-game series at conference-leading Kansas State (37-15, 14-7) will have a huge hand in finalizing OU’s postseason resumé.
The Wildcats are No. 22 in the RPI and the only conference team with a realistic chance to host an NCAA tournament regional. However, OSU moved up to No. 34 after winning the Bedlam series. A spot in the NCAA tournament should be secure.