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Oklahoma State Basketball Post-Season Options and Chances

Time to look at all the possibilities for the Cowboys post season. I think we have all given up hope on the NCAA Tournament, but technically that dream isn't dead until the Pokes are eliminated from the Big 12 tourney.  And if we are to look at every possibility, there is an ultra-horrifying one... being passed over for an NIT bid.  An NIT bid, which is obviously not something we would be excited about anyway, is not a guarantee if this team loses these last few winnable games.  Beyond that, there are even more unpalatable options that I would rather not speak of, but must for the integrity of this post (yes, integrity). So let's take a look at what would most likely have to happen for each of the following post-season options to come to pass.

Option 1 - NCAA Tournament
How Do They Make it?
The short answer is, "must win the Big 12 tournament".  But really, that isn't 100% true. Consider this... Baylor and Nebraska would be considered as squarely on the bubble as teams could possibly be, and they are currently carrying a conference winning percentages of 46%, overall winning percentages of 67% and 63%, and RPI's of 72 and 86.  If Oklahoma State were to win these last three (ignore the likelihood of this for now), the Cowboys would finish with a conference winning percentage of 44%, an overall winning percentage of 63%, and the Pokes current RPI of 59 would stay about where it is.  In other words, OSU would be sitting pretty much exactly where the two most bubbly Big 12 teams are right now in terms of record, and would have a better RPI... meaning that they would at least be in the discussion.

There is however, the matter of the un-impressiveness of the Cowboys wins, especially on the road.  This is where the Big 12 Tournament comes in.  If the Pokes manage to win the last three of the regular season, they would likely enter the Big 12 tournament as the 7 or 8 seed and face Baylor, Nebraska, Colorado, OU, or Tech in the first round.  Let's say the Pokes win this one, now the second round matchup is where they will have to make their mark. In what would most likely be a matchup with Kansas or Texas on a neural court, the Cowboys now have a chance to move their overall winning percentage up to 66%, and score a HUGE neutral court victory over a top 5 team which would bump that RPI into the 40's.  This would most likely be enough to get in. To sum up, making the NCAA Tournament would require the Pokes to win at least the next five games in a row. 

What are the chances of this happening?
Using Pomeroy's chances of winning percentages, the last three games currently stand at a 77%, 56%, and 51% chance of winning.  Then the hypothetical first round Big 12 tourney matchup with one of the listed teams above would be somewhere around a 50% chance of winning.  And finally the 2nd round game with Texas or Kansas would probably be at around a 10% chance of winning.  Using a formula for multiple probabilities with the Pomeroy chance of winning, the likelihood of all five of those wins happening is 1.02%. So ya, you probably don't want to have your travel agent (are there still travel agents?) book you anything for the first round of the NCAA tourney just yet.


Option 2 - NIT Tournament
How do they make it?
Right now the Big 12 is looking like it will send 5 or 6 teams to the NCAA Tournament, after that it is fairly common for the NIT to extend bids to the next 2 or 3 teams in the standings, depending on how many automatic qualifier spots they already have filled.  As you can see, this one is a little tougher to predict as the criteria isn't nearly as established as the NCAA tournament. Just to throw a wild guess out there, I would say that two more wins (be they in the 3 remaining regular season games, or one being in the Big 12 tourney) would for sure secure an invite, and potentially just one more win could do it assuming the Cowboys finish tied for 8th or better in the conference.

What are the chances of this happening?
Once again, the criteria here is really difficult as it is a combination of a teams season performance, likelihood of accepting a bid, and program prestige, but if we say that the Pokes need 2 more wins, using the Pomeroy chances of winning, the odds of this happening are upwards of 75%.

Option 3 - College Basketball Invitational
How do they make it?
Considering I'm not even really sure what this is, and that a Big 12 team has never played in the CBI, it is hard to say.  Let's go with "must field 5 guys" as the criteria for making this one. 

What are the chances of this happening?
I'm sure that if Coach Ford were interested, the Cowboys could go to this all they wanted.  Given that this has never happened, and that this is a 3 year old tournament, I would say that the odds of actually participating are worse than the odds of the Pokes making the NCAA tournament.  How about we assign a 1.01% chance.


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