Nearing the halfway mark of the 2013-14 men’s college basketball season, it’s not too early to begin thinking about what the NCAA Tournament field might look like come March. Projecting the March Madness field at this stage of the season doesn’t mean much, of course, but it does serve to whet the appetite for the coming conference season, which will ultimately determine who’s in and who’s out come tournament time in March.
As of Dec. 16, Lunardi projects five Big 12 men’s teams advancing to the NCAA Tournament. His No. 1 seeds, if the tournament field were set today, are Arizona in the West Region, Louisville in the South, Syracuse in the East and Ohio State in the Midwest.
Oklahoma State is the highest-seeded Big 12 team in Lunardi’s latest projections. He has the Cowboys seeded second in the Midwest. Baylor is the No. 4 seed in the South, and Lunardi has Kansas also as a four seed at this juncture, in the West. Iowa State, which is unbeaten through eight games, is projected as a five seed in the East.
The fifth Big 12 team to make the tournament, according to Lunardi, will be Oklahoma, as a potential 11 seed in the West. At this point in the season, he has the surprising Sooners deadlocked with Arizona State out of the Pac-12 for one of the 11 seeds.
Lunardi is forecasting seven teams from both the Big Ten and ACC will make the NCAA Tournament field, six from the SEC (which the Big 12 holds a 6-3 advantage over in the inaugural year of the Big 12-SEC Challenge), anf five each from the Big 12 and the Pac-12.
The Big 12 placed five teams in the Big Dance last season, but three teams (Kansas State, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma fell in the opening round and Kansas lost to Michigan in its opening game of the second weekend. Overall, the Big 12 went 3-5 in the 2013 tournament and, with six teams making the field, compiled an overall 10-6 record in 2012, when Kansas advanced all the way to the National Championship game before losing to Kentucky.