NCAA Tournament: Based on OU’s Season, Which Big 12 Team Will Go Furthest?

Dec 30, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Baylor Bears guard Ishmail Wainright (24) commits an offensive foul against Oklahoma Sooners forward Kristian Doolittle (11) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 30, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Baylor Bears guard Ishmail Wainright (24) commits an offensive foul against Oklahoma Sooners forward Kristian Doolittle (11) during the first half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports /

The Sooner men are on the sidelines for this year’s edition of March Madness, otherwise known as the NCAA Tournament.

Despite its absence from a tournament in which Oklahoma was one of the final four teams standing just 12 months ago, the Sooners’ may have had something to say about which team will win and advance the furthest in the 2017 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship.

Six teams out of the Big 12 are NCAA Tournament bound this year, and the Sooners played each of them twice as part of the double round-robin basketball schedule.

Kansas State was one of four teams that had to play its way into the tournament, which it did Tuesday night, beating former Kansas and NBA star Danny Manning’s Wake Forest Deacons for one of the final four spots.

A year ago, seven teams from the Big 12 went to the NCAA Tournament, including the Sooners. Texas and Texas Tech also were in the field of 64 last season, but, along with Oklahoma, were left out of the 2017 tournament.

Kansas is making its NCAA-record 28th consecutive appearance in the Big Dance and, as is the case more times than not, is a No. 1 seed. The next closest Big 12 team, as far as seeding is concerned, is Baylor, at a three seed. Then comes No. 4 seed West Virginia, No. 5 Iowa State, the Big 12 Tournament champion, No. 10 Oklahoma State and 11th-seeded Kansas State.

Kansas and Baylor both start out in Midwest Regional games to be played in Tulsa.

The Sooner men are absent from the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons and just the fourth in the last decade. Three of those absences came in successive seasons from 2010-12.

Oklahoma played 12 games against conference teams that are in this year’s NCAA Tournament field and was 2-10 in those games, with wins over West Virginia and Kansas State. The Sooners lost both games to conference champion Kansas, Baylor, Iowa State and Oklahoma State, but played close games with all four.

The Sooners, a No. 2 seed a year ago, advanced the furthest of all the Big 12 teams in last season’s tournament, making it all the way to the Final Four as West Region champions. Kansas, also one of the four No. 1 seeds in last year’s NCAA Tournament, was upset by No. 2 Villanova in the Midwest Region finals, the eventual national champions. Villanova handed Oklahoma the largest defeat in the history of the Final Four, hammering the Sooners by a 44-point margin, 95-51.

It would be easy to side with the Jayhawks of Kansas, as a No. 1 seed, as the Big 12 team with the best chance of advancing the furthest in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, but as everyone knows who follows college basketball, especially at this time of the year, season records and seedings mean very little in this single-elimination bloodfest. One bad game and you’re likely to be on your way back home.

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We took a look at the games Oklahoma played against the six Big 12 teams in this year’s NCAA Tournament field in an effort to determine which of the six might be the most difficult to oust and, therefore, would be the scariest to go up against in a win-or-go-home format.

It is clearly not a statistically significant analyses, but based on the two games with the Sooners, Baylor would seem to have the strongest case for surviving the longest among the six Big 12 March Madness participants.

This conclusion is based on the fact that Baylor owns the largest margin of victory over the Sooners (26 points in the conference opener played in Norman, no less) and the largest combined victory margin (32 points).

Based on this criteria, Kansas would be next with a combined winning margin of 22 points, although the young Sooners’ squad led by as many as 12 points with 10 minutes to go in the game in Lawrence and owned a nine-point halftime advantage over the Jayhawks in Norman).

Iowa State, which might be playing the best basketball of any team in the country coming into the NCAA Tournament, defeated OU twice this season, by a combined total of 21 points, and definitely rates as another team to watch out for in terms of longevity in this year’s Dance..

The three Big 12 teams with the least chance of surviving beyond the first weekend of tournament play, based on their two games with the Sooners, are, in ranked order, West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Kansas State.

K-State has won four of its past five games, but the game that preceded that five-game span was a 30-point drubbing at the hands of Oklahoma.

It would always be better if the Sooners were in the tournament field this season, but given that is not the case, it’s time to show our conference loyalty and throw our support behind the Big 12 teams that begin their journey on the Road to the Final Four this Thursday and Friday at various venues around the country.