OU basketball: NCAA Tournament would be better served sans Sooners

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 19: Silvio De Sousa
LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 19: Silvio De Sousa /

What started out as a season for the ages for men’s OU basketball has rapidly turned into one that can’t get over soon enough if you are a diehard Sooner fan.

The Sooner basketball program has been in a state of disarray and in a free fall since outlasting TCU in overtime on Jan. 13. After that win over TCU, OU’s second over the Horned Frogs in a two-week period, the Sooners were 4-1 in conference play, 14-2 overall and ranked in the top 10.

Related Story: Sooners bomb out at Baylor

Oklahoma has played 13 games since its 102-97 overtime victory over TCU. They’ve won just three of those games, including eight consecutive losses away from home.

That is not the kind of resume any team wants with the postseason looming. A 3-11 or 4-10 trend line, depending how the Sooners close out the regular season on Friday at home against cellar-dwelling Iowa State, generally is not looked upon favorably by the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

Oklahoma’s last two losses – to Kansas and Baylor – were by a combined 53 points, and the Sooners’ performance on Tuesday night at Baylor, in my opinion, was nothing short of wretched.

I trust Trae Young and Company were trying their hardest to win at Baylor, at least early on, but that’s what is so darn depressing. Because the way the Sooners played for the last 30 minutes of the game could be likened to a team that checks out and mails it in when things aren’t going its way.

Good teams, teams that are truly worthy of playing in the Big Dance in March, don’t lose 10 or 11 of their final games in the regular season, and they don’t lose eight consecutive road games. If a team can’t win away from home, how can it expect to perform any better away from home in the NCAA Tournament against teams that may be lower seeds but are conference champions.

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball
Oklahoma Sooners Basketball /

Oklahoma Sooners Basketball

Yes, I am aware that the Sooners are the only team in Division I with six wins against top-25 teams, including four wins over teams in the top 10 at the time the game was played. But that was much earlier in the season, and the current Oklahoma team is not the same one that was winning back in the first half of the season.

The Sooners don’t make shots with any consistency, can’t or don’t play defense and are playing more not to lose than to win. What confidence they once had, individually and as a group, appears to be gone and not coming back, not this season, anyway.

IF OU loses at home to lowly Iowa State on Friday, there won’t be any debate. The Sooners will be playing in the NIT, the postseason opportunity the big boys like to call the Not Invited Tournament. At least they would be playing in the postseason, but what a disgrace that would be for an Oklahoma team that in January was ranked as high as No. 4 in the country The way they are playing right now, however,  they might not get any further in the NIT than one and done.

Even with a win in the home finale against Iowa State, it still might be touch and go whether the Sooners would make the NCAA Tournament. And even if they were to do so, I can’t imagine they would be any higher than a 10 seed.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I don’t believe Oklahoma is worthy of an NCAA Tournament bid. College basketball experts say that with a win over Iowa State, the Sooners are in. I’m not so certain that is, or should be, the case.

In the first half of the season, OU was a very good, but not a great team. At the moment, they aren’t even a good team.

If Oklahoma’s name is not called on NCAA Tournament “Selection Sunday” a little over a week from now, the Sooners have no one to blame but themselves. Instead of playing their way into the Big Dance, they will have played themselves out of it.