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Bracketology 2011: Hopes For Big 12 Hang In Balance This Weekend

When looking at Joe Lunardi's predictions for this year's NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, otherwise known as Bracketology over at ESPN, the Big 12 looks well represented. With six teams getting "in" at this point, the Big 12 has to feel good about its representation given the letdown of Kansas State throughout the season and several middling teams after the conference powerhouses like Texas and Kansas. But it's those very teams that might tip the balance and leave the Big 12 embarassed.

Every year, conferences are compared to one another. From the ACC to the Big 10 and the Pac 10 to the SEC, each conference hopes for bragging rights not only for its individual schools but the prestige that comes with association. Certainly the Big 12 can be proud of a stellar season from Texas and the predictably dominant Kansas Jayhawks at season's end. The aforementioned Kansas State has enjoyed a surprising resurgence to certainly grab a spot with wins against top teams, and let's not overlook a solid Texas A&M squad currently tied for third place in conference standings.

But Lunardi also believes that one (or more?) of those six teams could easily slip out with poor showings this weekend or in the conference tourney. Missouri will likely hold on to its NCAA Tournament invitation with 22 wins, even if a loss against to Kansas this weekend leaves them at .500 in conference play. Nebraska, Baylor and Colorado all could have made solid plays for the tournament with better showings and their play against each other might take each other out, leaving the Big 12 with only five teams.

That's a ratio that pales in comparison to this year's leader (by far), the Big East. While the Big East has more teams (16) than other conferences, Lunardi also has them getting 11 teams into the Big Dance. The Big 10 and SEC will also have more teams in the tournament unless those three teams find some late momentum and earn some last minute wins. Satuday's game featuring Nebraska against Colorado might ensure just that for one team, while Baylor could come up especially big against Texas.

Then again, a surprising Big 12 conference run could upend the whole apple cart, hence the reason we all love this time of year. Suffice to say, the next nine days are going to provide some spectacular highlights and letdowns all on the journey to Selection Sunday.