On Thursday, March 12, the Oklahoma Sooners will officially begin postseason play against the West Virginia Mountaineers in the Big 12 Tournament. With a 19-12 overall record and a 9-9 showing in one of the top conferences in the nation, it appears that OU has all but punched its ticket to this year’s NCAA Tournament.
The second season starts Thursday.— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) March 10, 2020
No. 22 West Virginia
⏰ 8 p.m. CT
Still, there is potentially a lot of basketball left to play, starting in Kansas City this week. After securing the Big 12’s No. 3 seed, Oklahoma will tip off its postseason run in the conference quarterfinals versus WVU. See below for the entire Big 12 bracket:
Official: the 2020 #Big12MBB Championship bracket ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/yz4yYDed13— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) March 8, 2020
The interesting opportunity the Sooners have immediately in front of them is a Mountaineers squad that’s No. 17 in the NCAA NET rankings going into the postseason. After sweeping West Virginia in the regular season, Oklahoma has a chance to earn a third win over a highly-rated squad at a neutral site. Without knowing exactly where the committee stands on OU until Selection Sunday, any extra wins Lon Kruger’s team can add to its resumé can only improve its chances at earning a higher seed.
Speaking of seeding in the NCAA Tournament, ESPN’s resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi projects Oklahoma as a current 9-seed in regards to the Big Dance going into the Big 12 Tournament, as does CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm. Meanwhile, SB Nation’s Chris Dobbertean is slightly less confident in the Sooners’ standing, but still has them safely away from the bubble as a 10-seed. Also, perhaps just as telling (if not more so) as those three bracketology prognostications is OU’s No. 46 ranking in the NCAA NET ordering, which the tournament committee definitely factors in when selecting teams for the field of 68.
CBS SportsLine gives OU the fifth-best odds of winning the Big 12 Championship this week, and as of this Tuesday according to ESPN’s John Gasaway, while Oklahoma isn’t a ‘lock’ to make the NCAA Tournament, the Sooners are one of six teams that ‘should be in’.
For a team that’s had as many ups and downs as Oklahoma has this season, it almost feels strange to think it could actually drop Thursday’s quarterfinal matchup against West Virginia and still wake up on Selection Sunday feeling comfortable about its March Madness odds. Apparently, that’s the fortunate position in which the Sooners find themselves, and we can all thank Austin Reaves for that.
Put the team on his back.— Oklahoma Basketball (@OU_MBBall) March 10, 2020
Looking back at Austin Reaves’ 4️⃣1️⃣ points on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/PmCLeoLw9G
However, that doesn’t mean the Sooners should shift their focus away from the Big 12 Tournament in the slightest. A win (or two) would have the potential to elevate OU into a more favorable seed and bracket, and that alone should be motivation enough to leave it all on the court for the next 40 minutes.
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