Missouri wasn't ranked, but they were receiving votes in both the AP and Coaches' polls from January 11th. The Sooners weren't. Missouri was also a team that had compiled a 14-3 record coming into the game, was riding a 9 game win streak, and had recently beat a very good Kansas State team at home.
They were ranked #10 in Ken Pomeroy's ratings, #37 in RPI, and #6 in Adjusted Scoring Margin (ASM) - a great predictor of tourney success.
Make no mistake about it, the Sooners accomplished something big today. They got a coveted quality win. I don't care if it was at home, where they remain undefeated, it was a quality win.
We got a big contribution from Willie Warren today who was in the doghouse during the Bedlam battle - committing a career high 7 turnovers against the in-state rivals. From the official site:
Warren was replaced after a series of his career-high seven turnovers during a win against Oklahoma State on Monday night, and the fans let it be known they were glad to see him leave the game.
"Not just the crowd. It was everybody," said Capel, the Sooners' coach. "Me included."
Willie finished the Missouri game with 21 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, made all 8 of his free throws, and he shot 43% from beyond the arc. Let's also not diminish the efforts of Cade Davis who had 15 points and 11 rebounds. And Ryan Wright stepped up in what might have been the best game I've seen him play - 12 points and 8 rebounds in 27 minutes.
So where do the Sooners stand right now? They have 13 games remaining now. 6 of those will be played in the comforts of home at the Lloyd Noble Center - Iowa State, Texas, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Baylor, and Texas A&M. Three of those teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 (Texas, K-State, Baylor). The other seven on the road include Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Nebraska, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Kansas, and Texas. Only two of those teams are ranked in the AP Top 25 (Kansas, Texas).
So, their road schedule is noticeably easier than their home schedule, even though they've gone undefeated at home so far this year. The Sooners seem to have a different tenacity at home.
They have an incredibly brutal stretch of games from February 20th through March 1st that consists, in order, of K-State, @Kansas, Baylor, and @Texas. So they're going to need to try and win as many games as possible over the next four weeks to set themselves up for a brutal finish with 4 of their last 5 games against ranked opponents.
Making The Tournament
Making the Big Dance is an incredibly subjective mish-mash of complexities. A lot of it is actually based on the RPI sheets that the people making the decisions will be thumbing through. RPI is calculated basically by breaking it down into 3 parts - 25% team winning percentage, 50% opponents winning percentage, 25% opponents' opponents winning percentage. So, obviously it helps to play a tough non-conference schedule and be in a solid conference to get the RPI a boost. Luckily the Sooners have both of these. Other things that help:
- A Signature Win: as far as I can tell they are going to have limited opportunities - Texas (2/6), K-State (2/20), @Kansas (2/22), @Texas (3/1).
- Perception Of Being From A "Tough Conference": right now the Big East and Big 12 are probably considered the top two conferences. Normally about 70-85% of the at large bids to the tournament are from the "Big 6" conferences. That usually amounts to about 22-28 of the 34 at large bids.
- Performance in Last 10 Games: as we mentioned, this is one chip that is not likely to fall in the Sooners' favor. They finish with a really tough schedule. They might wind up having to win a couple of games in the tournament, depending on their regular season record.