Joe Lunardi has Sooners in NCAA tourney field, but barely

They call the last player drafted in the NFL Mr. Irrelevant. As of Tuesday morning, such was the status of Oklahoma men’s basketball in ESPN College Basketball Champion analyst Joe Lunardi’s latest Bracketology projection of the 2023 NCAA Tournament field.

That’s a rise for the Sooners, who were eliminated from Lunardi’s NCAA tournament projections after suffering three straight Big 12 losses. Oklahoma has been in Lunardi’s ongoing projection of what the tournament field will look like in March at March Madness time for a good part of the season, but it’s gone down in recent weeks.

A few weeks ago, Lunardi had Oklahoma on the 11-line as one of the last four byes to make it onto the tournament field. A week ago, the Sooners were listed as one of the next four teams (after the top four) from the tournament field.

Oklahoma’s statement win over second-place Alabama last weekend provided the boost the Sooners needed to win back NCAA tournament consideration from Lunardi and others on the college basketball landscape. But this is a very volatile environment full of unpredictability and what have you been doing for yourself lately.

The Sooners and their head coach Porter Moser collectively hope that the win in Alabama is the spark OU needs to turn their season around. They’ve seen what they can do when they play a full, complementary game that enables their offensive efficiency with a tough defense and limits costly turnovers.

The remainder of the season begins Wednesday at home against Bedlam rivals Oklahoma State. Round II of 2023 Bedlam will be a good test to see how the Sooners are able to build on the sweetness of the past weekend while also reversing the anger and pain they felt when they went into the second half in Stillwater were blown out a few weeks ago after leading 30-24 in the half.

Oklahoma will likely need to win at least four or five of its remaining 10 games to have any chance of a spot in March’s NCAA tournament. And in a conference as strong as the Big 12 have been this season, it’s going to be a massive undertaking.

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