So you win a couple games against Kansas State, does that mean you are bound for the NCAA tournament? If you are 2011 Colorado, then no, you are not. The Buffaloes beat a good K-State team three times in their final Big 12 season and didn’t get an invite. But can Lon Kruger’s first Oklahoma team use its two wins over K-State to propel a second-half surge to the tournament?
SI.com’s bubble watch has the Sooners “in the mix” while ESPN’s version has them with “work left to do.” Both pretty much carry the same sentiment: the Sooners are far from being in a comfortable place, but midway into the conference schedule they do indeed have a NCAA pulse. And after an 0-3 conference start that feels pretty good.
According to rpiratings.com, the Sooners are #70 in RPI and have played the 44th hardest schedule in the country. The computer numbers won’t save them from their uninspiring record (13-7, 3-5). Neither will any of their non-conference wins, the best being victories over Oral Roberts and Arkansas, which both merit nothing more than a shrug.
A 9-9 conference record would give the Sooners a prayer at getting in (with a couple conference tournament wins), and although it’d be hard to get there it’s not utterly impossible. They’ll need a true marquee win, and their best chance at that is probably Missouri at home on February 6. The Tigers did thrash Oklahoma in Columbia, but Missouri is 3-2 on the road thus far and all have been close games.
My gut reaction after looking at the remaining schedule had Oklahoma going 4-6 the rest of the way, with wins over Iowa State (home), Tech (road), Texas (home) and Ok-State. The losses were against Kansas (road), Missouri (home), Iowa State (road), Baylor (road), Texas (road) and Texas A&M (road). Clearly they’d need to steal two of the tougher games, and Texas and Texas A&M may be possible.
Are they likely to make a run and get in? Probably not. But the exciting thing for Sooner fans is that there is a chance, and that if Oklahoma can take care of business, any marquee win they may get could put them over the top. The seemingly dead team rising from the dead to make a run at an invite also seems to be in style this season, take a look at Pittsburgh and Notre Dame.