2021 NCAA: Bears and Runner-Up Texas Tech Tops Big 12 Conference Ranking

After working through a series of scheduling and venue considerations, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Tournament is getting ready to kickoff, with the latest edition of March Madness beginning on March 14, 2021, when Selection Sunday occurs. From there, the top 68 teams will take the court in an event that will not leave the state of Indiana. 

Unlike every previous NCAA tournament, the organization is limiting the games to a series of venues throughout the Hoosier State, in an effort to follow stricter health protocols in line with the COVID-19 pandemic. Indy sites include Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Hinkle Fieldhouse and Indiana Farmers Coliseum, along with Bloomington’s Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and West Lafayette’s Mackey Arena.

The Elite Eight and Final Four will take place exclusively at Lucas Oil Stadium, located in downtown Indianapolis.

All teams will conduct practice at the Indiana Convention Center. 

One of the best conferences, during this and recent campaigns, has been the previously more football focused Big 12. Fans can check out an update on what is going on in the conference below, along with which schools are currently generating the best odds when you read The Duel

Baylor Bears 

In 2019, the Baylor Bears advanced to the second round of the tournament, before having their journey abruptly ended by Gonzaga. This season, the Bears are ranked second in the nation, sitting undefeated both nationally and in conference. Amid a series of COVID related postponements, the Waco, Texas school is not scheduled to take the court again until February 20.

West Virginia Mountaineers 

The 14th ranked West Virginia Mountaineers are in second place in the Big 12 conference, with a record of 7-3, coming off an impressive 82-71 win over Texas Tech.  WVU’s highly anticipated games with Baylor will sadly not be taking place as planned, with next week’s contests canceled for pandemic reasons.

 

Texas Tech Red Raiders

With no NCAA Tournament in 2020, the Red Raiders remain the defending national runner-up, in light of their NCAA title game loss to Virginia, back in 2019. Looking at 2021, the boys from Lubbock are ranked seventh nationally, with a somewhat disappointing 6-5 conference record.

Oklahoma Sooners 

OU sits at 7-4 in the Big 12 and 12-5 overall, coming off a bounce back win over Iowa State, which occurred in the wake of a 57-52 loss to Texas Tech. The Sooners were scheduled to take on Baylor, last Wednesday, but that game was called off. 

Texas Longhorns

The 13th ranked Longhorns currently own a 6-4 conference record, good enough for fifth in the Big 12. After losing three consecutive games to Oklahoma, Baylor and Oklahoma State, UT got back in the win column thanks to a 80-77 victory over Kansas State, earlier this week.

Kansas Jayhawks 

The Kansas Jayhawks, who are of course the gold standard of the Big 12, are hoping for a postseason resurgence after their 2019 second round loss to Auburn, a team that would go on to reach the Final Four. KU sits at 8-5 in conference, coming off consecutive wins over Oklahoma State and Iowa State.

Oklahoma State Cowboys 

The 23rd ranked squad from Stillwater has played well for much of this season, but have recently seen their fortunes fall a bit, going just 3-3 in their last six games, leading the Cowboys' conference record to drop to 5-6. The OSU looks to get it rolling with upcoming matchups against Kansas State and Iowa State.

TCU Horned Frogs 

Texas Christian sits 11-7 overall and 4-5 in conference. After losing four consecutive Big 12 matchups, the Fort Worth program has found its way back into the win column, with back-to-back wins over Oklahoma State and Iowa State. TCU looks to extend their winning streak when taking on the Longhorns, on Saturday.

Kansas State Wildcats 

The 2019 NCAA Tournament witnessed the Wildcats go down to UC Irvine, in what was a shocking 4 versus 13 upset. Things have gone from bad to worse for K-State, with the team posting a 5-16 overall record, amid an awful 1-11 Big 12 mark. The school is currently in the midst of an 11-game losing streak.

Iowa State Cyclones

Nobody in the Big 12 has struggled more than the boys from Ames. ISU is winless in the Big 12, amid posting a dismal overall record of 2-13. With four of their final six games coming against ranked teams, there appears to be no end in sight as relates to this nightmare of a season. 

Takeaway

With six schools ranked in the top 25, including top 10 programs Baylor and Texas Tech, many Big 12 programs are positioned to make a big run come March. This once top-heavy conference suddenly boasts of being as deep and completive as anyone. Is this the year for a Big 12 team to cut down the nets in Indy? Only time will tell.