A couple of weeks ago, the question wasn’t whether the OU basketball team would make the NCAA Tournament, but how high they should be seeded.
Well, seeding is no longer the issue. The question now is: Are the Sooners, once ranked No. 4 in the nation, in real danger of playing themselves out of the tournament field.
Oklahoma was 14-2 back in early January, but now, after five consecutive losses and eight of its last 10, the Sooners have dropped to 16-10 on the season and 6-8 in the Big 12. Now, the Sooners are headed to Kansas, which isn’t play its best lately either, but has much more to play for than beaten-down OU, which hasn’t won at KU in 25 years.
With a loss at Kansas, Oklahoma will fall to 6-9 in the Big 12 and suffer its sixth consecutive loss. The NCAA Tournament selection committee does not look favorably on teams that are tanking as bad as the Sooners are at this time of the year.
It would be terrific if Oklahoma were to find some way to escape Allen Fieldhouse with a victory, but let’s assume for a moment that does not happen. The Sooners would have three games remaining in the regular season (two at home and one on the road at Baylor).
OU would have to win two of the three to ending the conference season four games under .500. Only twice in NCAA Tournament history has a team made the tournament field after finishing four games under .500 in its conference standings (Iowa State, 5-9 in 1992 in what was then the Big Eight and Florida State, 6-10 in the ACC in 1998).
Oklahoma’s remaining three games after Kansas are hardly sure wins. OU has Kansas State and Iowa State at home, and one final road game at Baylor, which has won five consecutive games.
The way the Sooners have been going, it would not be out of the question for them to win just one of their remaining five games. Believe it or not, Oklahoma could actually finish in last place in the Big 12 standings. That would be an ultimate nightmare after such a strong start to the season.
Oklahoma is the only team so far that has at least six wins over teams ranked in the top 25, and four ranked in the top 10 at the time the game was played. But all of that will mean little if the Sooners are not able to win at least two of the remaining five regular-season games.
If the Sooners fall short of that mark, they would be challenging history to receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Even with two wins and a win in the Big 12 Tournament, Trae Young and Company might be looking at nothing higher than an 11 or 12 seed.
A sad testimony for a team that was playing at such a high level earlier in the season. They better find there way very quickly or they will spending their postseason playing in the National Invitation Tournament.