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Baylor’s Big 12 Seeding Scenarios

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Baylor finishes 3rd with a win on Saturday

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Baylor Sean Pokorny-USA TODAY Sports

With a win in Austin on Saturday, Baylor will finish third in the Big 12. The Bears are locked in as 3rd or 4th in the Big 12. There are a number of scenarios left, but this is how it goes:

The difference between 2nd and 3rd is minimal. Either seed will face one of the Kansas State-TCU-Texas Tech trio. But finishing 4th means having to play Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have won 10 of 11. Their lone loss in that stretch was to Baylor—in a game where the Bears made a ton of 3-point shots. Avoiding Oklahoma State is a huge plus.

Kansas has clinched the #1 seed in the tournament with at least 15 conference wins.

But you don’t have to just believe me. Below is how it all works.

With a win over Texas:

That would make Baylor 12-6 in conference play. Only Iowa State (11-5 with a game against Oklahoma State tonight) and West Virginia (11-6 right now) can finish with at least 12 conference wins. Iowa State can win out and finish 13-5. In which case, Iowa State would knock off West Virginia and move the Mountaineers to 11-7. That puts Baylor 3rd.

Assuming Iowa State beats Oklahoma State, then West Virginia beats Iowa State, we would have a three-way tie at 12-6. In a three way tie, the Big 12 tiebreaker specifies:

a. Results from the collective head-to-head competition during the regular season among the tied teams in a mini round-robin format, ranking the tied teams by winning percentage from highest to lowest will be used to determine the seeds.

In the collective head-to-head, West Virginia would be 3-1 (with two wins over Iowa State and a loss in Waco), Baylor would be 2-2 (wins at home) and Iowa State would be 1-3 (win over Baylor in Ames). That single procedure leaves nobody tied. West Virginia would finish 2nd, Baylor would finish 3rd and Iowa State would finish 4th.

Baylor cannot finish 2nd because any tiebreaking scenario with West Virginia or Iowa State favors Iowa State or West Virginia. If there are only two tied teams, then the procedure used is:

a. Results of head-to-head competition during the regular season. If teams remain tied, then:

Each team’s record versus the team occupying the highest position in the final regular season standings, and then continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage. When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s record against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tiebreaking procedures), rather than the performance against individual tied teams. The lone exception to this guideline would be if there are only two tied teams in the group placement and one of the teams won both regular-season games. In this instance, the tie is deemed broken and comparison of the seed rather than the placement will be utilized.

Iowa State and West Virginia both finished 1-1 against Baylor. That means we then go to the next tiebreaker, “record versus the team occupying the highest position.” Iowa State and West Virginia both beat Kansas once, while Baylor went 0-2. Baylor would then lose that second tiebreaker, which leaves the Bears in 3rd.

Therefore, Baylor finishes 3rd in the Big 12 with a win over Texas on Saturday.

Baylor Loses to Texas:

If that awful event happens, then Baylor would be 11-7. Oklahoma State (currently 9-7 with a game against Iowa State tonight and home against Kansas), can finish 11-7. Iowa State can finish 11-7 if they lose their last two. West Virginia can finish 11-7 with a loss to Iowa State.

Either West Virginia or Iowa State is guaranteed another win. That puts them at 12-6. That matters because we’re not looking at a four-way tiebreaker.

If Oklahoma State wins out, then they finish 11-7. West Virginia or Iowa State would also finish 11-7 because Iowa State would be 11-6 heading into that game (means they’ve lost to Oklahoma State in this hypothetical), and West Virginia is 11-6 heading into that game.

Baylor-Oklahoma State-West Virginia tiebreaker:

We again have our three-way tiebreaker. The Bears would actually win because they’d have three total wins (two against Oklahoma State and one against West Virginia), while West Virginia and Oklahoma State have split their meetings, leaving them 2-2. The Bears would then finish 3rd.

Baylor-Iowa State-Oklahoma State tiebreaker:

The same scenario as above applies. Iowa State and Oklahoma State split their series, while Baylor swept Oklahoma State. The Bears split with the Cyclones, which leaves Baylor with three wins, while the other teams have two. Baylor is the 3rd seed.

If Oklahoma State beats Iowa State, but then loses to Kansas, then Baylor would end up in a head-to-head with Iowa State or West Virginia because Oklahoma State would be unable to reach 11 conference wins. As mentioned above, Baylor would lose that tiebreaker (second tiebreaker is head-to-head against Kansas). That leaves Baylor as the 4th seed.

If Oklahoma State loses to Iowa State, then Oklahoma State has at least eight losses and cannot be in a tiebreaker. That means 11-7 Baylor can only end up in a head-to-head with 11-7 West Virginia (losers of Iowa State game). Baylor loses that head-to-head tiebreaker, as explained throughout (tiebreaker #2 is head-to-head against Kansas). Iowa State would be 13-5 in that scenario. And even with a loss to West Virginia, they’d be 12-6 because they’d notch another win against Oklahoma State. Baylor is the fourth seed.

What to Root for:

Obviously, Baylor. If the Bears win against Texas, they are the third seed. Nothing changes that. With a Baylor loss, the Bears are still a #3 seed if Oklahoma State wins out. So root for Oklahoma State to win out too. Plus if they do, Baylor would have been the Cowboys only loss in 13 games.