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Bracketology: Cowboys among ‘First Four Out’ Heading into Conference Tournament

It all comes down to this.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Even after Saturday’s win in Lubbock, the Cowboys still have some work to do if they want their name called next Sunday.

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm and ESPN’s Joe Lunardi each have Oklahoma State in their “First Four Out” categories coming into conference tournament week. Palm has the Cowboys, a team ranked 43rd in the NET, as his second team out while Lunardi has OSU as the third team out.

Palm has Wisconsin (78th in the NET) ahead of OSU as the first team out of the NCAA Tournament, while his last four teams in are Michigan (54), Utah State (21), Mississippi State (46) and Penn State (56). The two teams Palm has on the bubble behind OSU are North Carolina (49) and Arizona State (65).

Lunardi has Clemson (61), Utah State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Nevada (36) and Mississippi State ahead of OSU on the bubble with Arizona State behind.

Here are all the bubble teams both mentioned in an easier-to-digest chart, sorted by NET ranking (also included are teams in Lunardi’s “First Four Byes” and “Next Four Out” and in Palm’s “On the Bubble”).

NET RankingTeamConferenceRecordQuad 1Quad 2Quad 3Quad 4
20Iowa StateBig 1218-129-102-21-06-0
21Utah StateMountain West23-71-48-112-02-2
24West VirginiaBig 1218-136-125-11-06-0
27Boise StateMountain West22-83-48-26-25-0
36NevadaMountain West21-94-54-29-24-0
40RutgersBig Ten18-135-64-42-37-0
41NC StateACC22-92-65-35-010-0
43Oklahoma StateBig 1217-146-113-23-15-0
46Mississippi StateSEC20-114-73-35-18-0
49North CarolinaACC19-121-96-36-06-0
54MichiganBig Ten17-143-115-25-04-1
56Penn StateBig Ten19-125-64-54-16-0
65Arizona StatePac-1220-114-54-56-06-1
78WisconsinBig Ten17-136-75-51-15-0

So, OSU is in the middle of that back in terms of NET ranking. Of the nine teams ahead of OSU on that list, seven are projected to be in the Tournament by Palm and Lunardi. Meanwhile, Palm has Utah State in but Lunardi doesn’t, and Lunardi has Rutgers in while Palm doesn’t.

The pair of bracketologist also both have USC, Mississippi State, Penn State and Pitt in the Tournament field despite that quartet being behind OSU in the NET ranking. Meanwhile, Palm also has Michigan in while Lunardi has Wisconsin in.

Among that group, the Cowboys are tied with West Virginia for second with six Quad 1 wins. The Mountaineers, a team that split the season series with OSU and finished behind the Cowboys in the Big 12 standings, are considered a 10 seed by Lunardi and an 11 seed by Palm.

It’s also important to note that while Palm and Lunardi are usually close, these projections aren’t a perfect science as to what the selection committee will think next Sunday.

The Cowboys play Oklahoma in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday in Kanas City. That game is considered Quad 2 for the Pokes with OU being ranked 66th in the NET, lowest among Big 12 teams. For it to be Quad 1, OU would’ve had to be in the Top 50 of the NET.

It’s tough to say whether another Quad 2 win would get the Pokes in at this point. It would be a matter of what happens on the bubble around them. But should OSU beat OU, the Cowboys would play Texas on Thursday. Texas is ranked 10th in the NET. A win there would almost assuredly get the Pokes in, but in two meetings with Texas this season, the Longhorns have outscored the Cowboys by an average of 12 points a game.

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