Oklahoma basketball: OU holding steady in Joe Lunardi's NCAA Tournament projections despite road stumble

Evert Nelson/The Capital-Journal / USA

Men's Oklahoma basketball was 13-1 at this time last week and ranked No. 9 in the country in the Associated Press Top-25.

That was before the Sooners made their first true road trip of the season, heading out not just once but twice last week to play at TCU and three days later at No. 3 Kansas. Suffice it to say, it was not a good week for OU men's hoops. The Sooners lost both games by nine-plus points.

Those back-to-back losses cost Oklahoma six spots in this week's AP rankings as the Sooners tumbled back to No. 15 and from 9 to 16 in the Coaches Poll.

Last week's double hiccup did not, however, change ESPN Bracketology expert Joe Lunardi's position on Oklahoma and the Sooners' projected seeding within the 2024 NCAA Tournament field.

Lunardi has the Sooners well within the tournament field and still positioned as a No. 5 seed in his latest projections. That would set up a problematic 5-12 first-round matchup. Historically, there are more upsets in the 5-12 opening-round NCAA Tournament pairing than in any other.

OU's current projection by Lunardi has the Sooners in the Midwest Bracket and playing its opening-round game against No. 12 Saint Mary's. This will most certainly change as the second half of the 2023-24 season goes forward, especially with the widespread parity within the Big 12. But it is a highly favorable sign early for an Oklahoma team that has missed the last two NCAA Tournaments.

Lunardi currently has as many as eight Big 12 teams projected to make this year's tournament field. That is tied with the SEC for the most from any conference.

Here are the Big 12 teams Lunardi currently has making the NCAA Men's Tournament and their projected seedings as of the games of Jan. 16.

Kansas: No. 1 seed

Houston: No. 2 seed

Baylor: No. 3 seed

Oklahoma: No. 5 seed

BYU: No. 6 seed

Iowa State: No. 7 Seed

TCU: No. 9 seed

Texas Tech: No. 10 seed

Cincinnati: First four out

Kansas State: Next four out

Left out: Texas, Oklahoma State, UCF and West Virginia