OSU basketball's NCAA Tournament seed could be boosted by strong finish
BY KELLY HINES World Sports Writer
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
2/27/13 at 8:21 AM
Related Story: OU meets key NCAA Tournament criteria
STILLWATER - Oklahoma State's first NCAA Tournament destination is somewhere between 300 and 1,700 miles from Stillwater.
Every major Bracketology expert projects the Cowboys will be sent to Kansas City, Mo., or to San Jose, Calif.
Obviously, the closest site is more desirable. After Kansas City, the nearest location is Austin, Texas - 450 miles away.
"Either (Austin or Kansas City) would be good for us," forward Michael Cobbins said. "They'll be kind of close for us to get to coming from Stillwater and we'll have fans there and that way it will ... almost be kind of like a home game."
Nothing will guarantee securing a close-to-home game, but better seeds typically have increased odds. In the latest mock brackets, OSU is projected to be a No. 4 or 5 seed.
A strong finish to the regular season, starting Wednesday night at TCU, and a run in the Big 12 Tournament could propel the Cowboys to a higher seed.
Among various teams the Cowboys are projected to face in their first tournament game are Wichita State, Bucknell and the winner of a play-in game.
Like pretty much every coach, Travis Ford said he doesn't pay any attention to Bracketology.
"With our team, we haven't talked much about (the postseason)," Ford said. " ... We're playing for seeds in the Big 12 Tournament.
"We're playing to try to get into the NCAA Tournament, and then we're trying to play for seeding in the NCAA Tournament. But all that can only be controlled by the next game."
Everyone agrees OSU is destined for the Big Dance, thanks to a seven-win stretch that began a month ago and ended last week against Kansas.
The Cowboys don't have an overly impressive RPI - the fourth-highest in the Big 12 at No. 26, according to CBSSports.com - but ESPN's new College Basketball Power Index have them at No. 10 after taking into account additional factors like scoring margin.
This season, OSU is 5-4 against opponents projected to make the 68-team field, and none of those losses was a blowout, with the average margin being fewer than four points.
Only twice have the Cowboys fallen to teams not projected to make the NCAA Tournament: Virginia Tech, which has sunk to 12-15 and last in the ACC; and Baylor, which is 16-11 and after three straight defeats is among the first teams out.
Although OSU's last NCAA appearance was three years ago, no current Cowboy was on that roster. A year ago, a losing record kept the team from any postseason tournament.
"It's an exciting feeling just to be mentioned as being a part of something like (the NCAA Tournament)," said Cobbins, a redshirt sophomore. "The past couple of years that I've been here we haven't been able to bless it with our appearance.
"But hopefully this year we can make that happen."
OU, OSU NCAA Tournament resumes
Mike Bobinski, the Xavier athletic director who doubles as NCAA tournament selection committee chairman, recently said there were "about a dozen tools" the committee uses when putting together a 68-team bracket. In past years, four of the most prominent tools have been a team's rating percentage index (RPI), strength of schedule, "quality wins" total and performance heading into the tournament.
How OSU stacks up
With the Big 12 projected to get at least five teams in the NCAA Tournament, it bodes well for the Cowboys that they have the league's fourth-best RPI.
Strength of schedule
Five nonconference opponents have RPIs in the 200s and 300s. Portland State is 335th out of 347 teams.
76-56 against then-No. 6 N.C. State, Nov. 18
85-80 at then-No. 2 Kansas, Feb. 2
A win against Gonzaga, the second-ranked team that edged OSU by a point on New Year's Eve, would look nice here, but the Cowboys also have a victory against top-10 RPI team Oklahoma and No. 48 Akron. They conclude the regular season against No. 13 Kansas State.
Won eight of the last nine
After dropping three out of four to open Big 12 play, the Cowboys vaulted into the conference chase. Although this week (at TCU, vs. Texas) is manageable, next week brings a challenge (at Iowa State, vs. Kansas State).
Oklahoma State (20-6, 10-4 Big 12)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F ||Nash ||6-7 ||13.2|| 4.3|
|F ||Cobbins ||6-8|| 7.0|| 6.4|
|C ||Jurick|| 6-11|| 3.2 ||6.3|
|G|| Brown ||6-3|| 15.9|| 4.5|
|G ||Smart ||6-4 ||15.0 ||5.7|
TCU (10-17, 1-13)
|Ht. ||Pt.|| Reb.|
|F ||Crossland ||6-7|| 6.3 ||5.8|
|F|| McKinney ||6-8|| 7.7 ||6.4|
|F ||Green ||6-7|| 9.9|| 3.7|
|G ||Anderson|| 5-11|| 11.2 ||3.4*|
|G ||Butler Lind ||6-6 ||5.0 ||2.4|
*assists per game
No. 15 Oklahoma State at TCU
6 p.m. Wednesday
Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, Fort
Radio: KFAQ am1170
Original Print Headline: Strong finish could lift OSU
Kelly Hines 918-581-8452