12. UCF Knights
The Knights have just five NCAA Tournament appearances in 37 years as a D-I program, although they had four straight winning years in the AAC most recently. Located in the heart of Florida and with massive resources at its disposal, UCF has the ability to get competitive in the future. They’re comparable to TCU, which went from the Mountain West to struggling for a while in the Big 12 before finally reaching the Big Dance.
UCF returns a lot of talent for the upcoming season and is a projected top-4 team in the AAC but likely wouldn’t be a top-half squad in the Big 12. And their recruiting needs to vastly improve before they have a shot at being competitive. What they do have going for them is a quality head coach in Johnny Dawkins, who can develop players over time.
11. TCU Horned Frogs
It really felt that TCU finally got its footing in Big 12 play, making the Big Dance in 2018 for the first time since the 1997-98 season in the WAC. But they’ve struggled since, mainly with retaining players as twice they’ve had big exoduses of talent. Head coach and the school’s alma mater Jamie Dixon is highly respected but if he can’t keep players, it’s hard for the program to be an NCAA Tournament team.
And now that Houston is in the mix, recruiting in the state of Texas has only gotten harder. The Horned Frogs have been ranked since entering the Big 12 but has shown to have a fairly low ceiling as a program and with teams that have consistently made the Big Dance complicating matters even more, things just got much harder for TCU.