Cowboy nation didn’t understand the hire any more than they understood Underwood taking the head coaching job at Illinois, despite a promising first season at OSU. Nevertheless, an NCAA tournament bid wasn’t in the question whatsoever. After losing Jawun Evans to the NBA, this was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Cowboys, according to everybody but the Cowboys and Boynton.
Discipline, hustle and defensive play was the motto all season and that got them a lot further than ever thought of. They weren’t expected to beat their in-state rival Oklahoma two out of three times this season and they definitely weren’t supposed to sweep a top-five team in Kansas during the regular season, handily.
With seven wins over tournament teams, three of which coming against top teams in the NCAA tournament, a reasonable mind would think that was good enough to earn a bid into the big dance. The problem with that is, OSU doesn’t have a player of Trae Young’s caliber on their roster and they aren’t seen as must-see television.
As unfair as that is, it’s true. OSU finished the season 19-14, where they started the season slowly but ended extremely strong. OU finished the season 18-13, where they started the season looking like a top 10 team but ended as one of the league’s most disjointed looking teams, not winning an away game in the calendar year 2018.
The NCAA likes ratings and so do sports television stations, that’s why women’s sports aren’t televised an equal amount as men’s. Ratings, or lack thereof, was the primary reason the Cowboys didn’t make the Big Dance.
Everyone (locally at least) knows of my extreme Sooner fandom, but that doesn’t dismiss the fact that if one of the two state schools had to make the tournament it should’ve been OSU. OU should’ve been the two-seed that played Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday night.
With an NIT tournament bid, Oklahoma State had to move on quickly, or they had to use their NCAA tournament snub as motivation to run through every team in the 32-team tournament. That’s what they did, defeating the team the Sooners should’ve played, 80-68.
With that win, the Cowboys advance to the second round, awaiting the winner of No. 3 Stanford (18-15) vs. No. 6 BYU (24-10).
Once again mentioning Oklahoma State sweeping Kansas during the regular season, they have one of the best chances to win the entire tournament and rub their title in the faces of the NCAA Tournament committee. Remember, they are coming from the best basketball conference in the nation that sent 70 percent of their teams to the big dance.And also remember, a Big 12 team won the NIT last year. Remember TCU?