How many Big 12 teams will play in March Madness

How many teams in college basketball's best conference will compete in the NCAA Tournament?

Where will BYU end up in March?
Where will BYU end up in March? / Peter G. Aiken/GettyImages

Media members all across the college hoops landscape love to make outlandish statements to steal the attention of helpless observers. I don't believe that being controversial is enough to make a person interesting, so I don't like to rely on such statements to convey strong feelings I have for my team's potential success. I prefer to hide behind the wall of "it could happen" so when my hot takes don't pan out, I'll have the impenetrable hypothetical barrier to protect myself from when my words blow up in my face.

With that disclaimer out of the way... the Big 12 is the best conference in college basketball, and I really don't think that's controversial. After an excellent season from nearly all of the conference's members, several bracketology projections suggest that the Big 12 will have the most representation in the Big Dance this March. So how many teams will be in?

Before we begin, I'd like to organize the conference into several tiers, based on bracketology and my observations, so we can know which teams are actual title contenders, which teams are tournament locks, and which teams we might not end up seeing at all.

Championship Contenders

Frisbee prodigy Louis Sebastian once described his athletic prowess by reciting an old adage from his home nation, where the best cheese always rises to the top. Of the Big 12's March Madness representatives, these teams are that cheese; these teams have the best chance to be that cheese and rise to the top of college basketball.

. . 1. 450. They may be new to the Big 12, but Houston has been a legitimate title contender for the past few years. Their seamless integration into the brutal Big 12 bodes well for a deep tournament run this year.. Houston Cougars. . . .

It hasn't been a perfect season for Kansas, but Bill Self's team is always ready to compete in March. Though they are third in the current conference standings, they are a projected 2 seed in the tournament.. . 2. Kansas Jayhawks. . . . . . 462

. Iowa State Cyclones. This Cyclone team came out of nowhere, starting the season unranked and climbing as high as sixth in the AP poll this season. Their suffocating defense could be a big irritant to other teams this March.. . . . . . 3. 461

. 460. Baylor Bears. . . . . They may be a bit of a fringe contender, but Baylor has the talent to make a deep run following last season's disappointing second-round exit to Creighton.. . 4

Tournament Locks

You probably shouldn't jot down any of these teams' names as you fill out your national champion this year (sorry, that includes BYU), but no one can stop you. These teams are the locks to play in March Madness. They are closer to the middle of the pack, but after braving the difficult Big 12 schedule and coming out alive, don't be surprised to learn some of these teams may have been under-seeded; the loss column doesn't tell the whole story.

. . While not the most consistent team, Tech has shown this season that when they get hot, they get really hot. A huge comeback against BYU and a 29-point drubbing of Kansas this season are evidence enough that on the right night, the Red Raiders could beat almost anyone.. . . . 468. 6. Texas Tech Red Raiders.

. . 540. . . . . After shooting out of a cannon in pre-conference play, BYU has cooled down a bit in their grueling Big 12 schedule. The Cougars have wins over title contenders Iowa State and Baylor, but also have bad losses against less great opponents. They are a bit too dependent on long-range shooting, though, and rarely win if they aren't hitting the 3-ball.. 7. BYU Cougars

466. . . 7. TCU Horned Frogs. . TCU is among the most fascinating teams in the Big 12. One of the few teams to have a road record above .500, TCU doesn't need their home court to win games. They have also proved that they can compete with the best, beating Baylor and Houston this season, and nearly winning against Kansas and Iowa State. Keep an eye on the Horned Frogs.. . .

Oklahoma Sooners. Much like BYU, Oklahoma started the season on fire, but cooled off significantly since winning their first 10 games. With no real bad losses, but a few close calls, Oklahoma might be more bark than bite this season, as they don't have many major wins on their resume.. 464. . . . . . . 8

Bubble Watch

Though only one, this team could be in danger if they finish their season poorly. Despite not meeting their preseason expectations, this team will be fighting like crazy to have a chance at the NCAA Tournament, and won't be satisfied with an NIT appearance.

. . 467. . . . . 11. The Longhorns came into their final Big 12 season with great expectations, but after reaching as high as 12th in the AP top 25, Texas has been in a tailspin. While their schedule has been anything but easy, losses to West Virginia, UCF, and close calls against Cincy and Louisville won't impress the selection committee.. Texas Longhorns

Tallying up the tournament-projected teams sets the Big 12's tally at 9 teams, which is the highest of any conference in hoops. Plenty can still happen between now and the end of the conference tournament--a team like Kansas State or UCF could break off for a shockingly great conference tournament run, and find a way to sneak into the March Madness bracket with an automatic qualification--but make sure to keep an eye on these teams in the final weeks of the season to give yourself a leg up on your March Madness pool this year.

And as always, I may be crazy enough to pick the Cougars this year. Who knows?

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