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NCAA Basketball Oklahoma State Cowboys

Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Oklahoma State Won’t Make The Big Dance

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Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Oklahoma State Won't Make The Big Dance

Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Oklahoma State Won't Make The Big Dance
Jerome Miron - USATODAY Sports

Like so many other teams, the Oklahoma State Cowboys find themselves on the proverbial bubble for the NCAA tournament as the regular season enters its final stretch. Coming off of last year’s 24-win season and a trip to the NCAA tournament, the Cowboys seemed like a good bet to get back to the Big Dance this season. Right now, however, their hopes of getting an invitation to the tournament are very much in jeopardy as they try to scratch and claw their way into one of the final few spots in the field of 68.

The season started with great promise for Oklahoma State, which went 12-1 during the months of November and December, including an early-season blowout of Memphis that gave the impression that the Cowboys could be one to the elite teams in the country this year. That win and others helped them climb into the top 10 in the polls, making them seem like a national championship contender.

However, when conference play started, Oklahoma State’s season started to spiral out of control, dropping them from the polls and towards the bottom of the Big 12 standings. More importantly, their late-season troubles have put into question whether they'll get an invitation to the NCAA tournament. They do have a solid resume from their wins early in the season, but there’s a lot of season left and the Cowboys have a lot to prove. Here are five reasons why when all is said and done, Oklahoma State will miss the NCAA tournament.

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5. A Winless February

A Winless February
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We’re three weeks into the month of February and the Cowboys have yet to win a game this entire month, with a losing streak that currently sits at seven games. It doesn't matter who you are or what you accomplished previously -- it’s difficult to make the tournament with a losing streak that long, especially when they’re just two games away from completing the entire month of February without a win.

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4. RPI Is On The Fringe

RPi Is On The Fringe
Kim Klement - USATODAY Sports

The Cowboys are barely among the top 50 teams in the RPI, and that’s cutting it awfully close for an at-large bid, especially with one less at-large spot available than there was last year. Oklahoma State needs to push its way into the top 40 teams in RPI if they want to feel secure heading into Selection Sunday, and if they keep losing and drop outside the top 50, they’ll really be in trouble.

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3. A Losing Record In Conference Play

A Losing Record In Conference Play
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Oklahoma State will have to win all five of its remaining games just to finish with a .500 record in conference play, and that would mean beating Kansas at home and beating Iowa State on the road, which is possible but will be tough to pull off. Even with a good collection of non-conference wins, the selection committee won't look favorably at a team with a losing record in its own conference, no matter how good the Big 12 is this season.

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2. Marcus Smart's Suspension

Marcus Smart's Suspension
Kevin Jairaj - USATODAY Sports

Aside from the distraction that it caused, Oklahoma State lost all three games it played during Smart’s suspension, including an overtime loss to Baylor and a three-point loss to instate-rival Oklahoma. Those are games that they Cowboys may have been able to win with Smart in the lineup. If they miss the tournament, it won't be by much, and the games they played without Smart could come back to haunt them.

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1. They Can't Win Close Games

They Can't Win Close Games
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If only Oklahoma State was playing horseshoes instead of basketball, because then all of their close losses would be worth something. They've had two overtime losses and five more losses by five points or less this season, with just three wins in games decided by five points or less, which doesn’t give them a good record in close games. If just one or two of those close losses could have gone the other way, the Cowboys would be in much better shape. But a close loss is still a loss, and with the losses continuing to pile up, Oklahoma State is going to end up getting left out of the NCAA tournament.