As postseason conference tournaments and the ultimate prize, a spot in the NCAA Tournament, beckon within the next couple of weeks, the sightlines toward what teams need to accomplish over that time frame to keep playing beyond mid are clearer now than at any other time in the season.
It has been that way virtually all season long, but with nine of the Big 12’s 10 conference teams ranked in the nation’s top 70 in RPI as the regular season heads down the home stretch, the numbers bear out that the Big 12 is the strongest basketball league in the land in 2013-14.
Numbers become increasingly important thius time of year. Here are a few to keep in mind as postseason tourney time in college basketball starts to come in view:
1 – The magic number for Kansas to clinch no worse than a tie for its 10th consecutive conference championships and the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Championship Tournament. A win on Monday over Oklahoma would give the Jayhawks a three game lead in the standings with just three conference games to go and assure them of no worse than a tie for the regular-season crown.
2 – Number of Big 12 teams (Texas and Kanssas) that have four consecutive wins this year vs. top-25 teams
4 – At present ESPN’s NCAA Basketball Tournament expert Joe Lunardi has Oklahoma State among the first four teams out of the NCAA Tournament selection process.
4 – There are four games remaining in the regular season for Big 12 men’s teams. Iowa State appears to have the roughest road to the finish line among the upper-tier teams. The Cyclones have games at home with West Virginia this week and Oklahoma State to end the regular season and road games left at Baylor and Kansas State.
4 – Four Big 12 teams (Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas) are averaging 80 or more points per game through all games this season. No conference teams averaged 80 points or higher last season.
5 – ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has five teams from the Big 12 getting into the Big Dance. A little over a month ago, that number was seven, but Oklahoma State and Baylor have faltered badly this season. Both have good resumes and high strength of schedules, however, and it would not be a stretch for one of the two slipping into thye NCAA Tournament as a sixth team from the Big 12 to go dancing in mid-March.
1-10 – What the Big 12 postseason tournament bracket would look like if the regular season ended Sunday, Feb. 23:
Wednesday Night Play-In Round
No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Texas Tech
No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 10 TCU
Thursday Quarterfinal Round
Texas vs. Kansas State
Kansas vs. 8/9 winner
Iowa State vs. 7/10 winner
Oklahoma vs. West Virginia
43- Forty-three of 70 Big 12 games this season (61 percent) have been decided by 11 or fewer points.
140 – Number of conference games that have been played this season, with 20 games remaining.