Bubble Watch: Oklahoma State Closing In On NCAA Tournament Bid
After enduring a brutal seven-game losing streak, it seemed that Oklahoma State was a long shot to make the NCAA Tournament.
After a back and forth first half, Oklahoma State pulled away in the second frame en route to a 77-61 victory over the Wildcats. The win gives the Cowboys their 20th of the season and now puts Travis Ford‘s squad only one game under .500 in the Big 12.
In Marcus Smart‘s last game at Gallagher-Iba Arena, the All-American put up a solid line with 18 points, five assists and six rebounds. Senior Markel Brown finished with 15 points while sophomore guard Phil Forte III led the Cowboys with 23 points, including a game-high six three-pointers.
After starting the season 16-3, Oklahoma St. hit a major lull with the seven-game losing streak which was later fueled by Smart’s three-game suspension for shoving a fan during the Texas Tech game back on Feb. 8.
But the Cowboys are finishing the regular season on a high note and have pushed their winning streak to four games. A massive game looms on Saturday afternoon as they travel to Ames, Iowa for a showdown with No. 16 Iowa State. The last time these two teams met, the Cyclones defeated the Cowboys in an epic 98-97 three-overtime shootout in Stillwater on Feb. 3.
Oklahoma St. is right on the cusp of taking that bubble status and turning it in for a lock in the NCAA Tournament. A win at Iowa State (No. 11 in RPI) would give the Cowboys six wins over RPI Top 50 teams. Currently, their five RPI Top 50 wins include Kansas (No. 2), Texas (No. 25), Colorado (No. 30), Memphis (No. 31) and Kansas State (No. 36).
To be safe, the Cowboys should also win a game or two in the conference tournament, but if they can extend their winning streak to five after Saturday, it will be tough for the committee to say no to Smart and Oklahoma State.