Life on the bubble: How TCU is biding its time before Selection Sunday

Jamie Dixon and TCU is looking to finish strong on Saturday at Texas.
Jamie Dixon and TCU is looking to finish strong on Saturday at Texas. Star-Telegram

TCU coach Jamie Dixon has never been in this position.

He’s coached an NCAA Tournament team in 12 of his first 15 seasons as head coach, and every single time his team had been projected comfortably in the field by Selection Sunday.

He’s never been sent to Dayton, Ohio for the “First Four” play-in games. Conversely, he’s never felt his teams were “snubbed” in the three seasons they didn’t make the Big Dance.

This year is different, though. TCU is firmly on the “bubble.”

Most feel the Frogs will make the field of 68, considering they reached the 20-win mark and the Big 12’s regarded as the toughest conference in the country, but potential “bid stealers” still loom across the country.

TCU was happy to see Utah State win the Mountain West, and Houston and Cincinnati advance to the American Athletic championship. They’re also pulling for Buffalo to win the MAC and Washington to win the Pac-12.

That means more at-large spots for schools such as TCU, which is one of the final teams in by most bracket experts.

“We watch the games, but we can’t do anything about it,” Dixon said. “The results will be the results. We’re aware of what’s going on.”

TCU had a weight room session and light shootaround Saturday in Fort Worth, a day after returning from the Big 12 tournament.

The team is scheduled to practice Sunday and will be together when the NCAA Tournament field is announced at 5 p.m. If selected, it’ll mark the first time TCU has made consecutive trips to the NCAAs since the early 1950s.

Dixon feels good about his team’s chances to win in the tournament, too. The Frogs have won two of their final three games, and had a lead against Kansas State for the majority of the game in Thursday’s loss.

A team that is down to just seven scholarship players from the opening-day roster is coming together down the stretch. The issue is depth, of course, such as when standout junior guard Desmond Bane got in foul trouble in the K-State game.

TCU finds itself on the NCAA tournament bubble going into its last game at Texas on Saturday. Coach Jamie Dixon talked about his team's postseason dreams.

“I think we’re playing good, “Dixon said. “We played well in the Texas and Oklahoma State games, and we had a very good 15-17 minutes against Kansas State.

“The seven-man rotation … we need all seven to play relatively well, but that’s how most teams are. But I don’t want to use, and we haven’t used, us having a seven-man rotation as an excuse. We have the players and the rotation to win games, and we’ve done it.”

TCU hopes to get an opportunity to win more games in the NCAA Tournament. If not, the Frogs will be NIT-bound for the second time in Dixon’s first three seasons.

TCU won the NIT in 2016-17, Dixon’s first year, and then were knocked out by Syracuse in the first round of last year’s NCAA Tournament.

The postseason fate this year? We’ll know soon enough.

Star-Telegram sports columnist Mac Engel talks to TCU basketball coach Jamie Dixon about basketball, Dixon's career, and recruiting.

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