13 - 1
|at Texas Tech (Wed); vs. Texas (Sat)|
12 - 2
|at Missouri (Wed); vs. Ok State (Sat)|
11 - 3
|vs. Oklahoma (Wed); at Texas A&M (Sat)|
8 - 6
|vs. Baylor (Mon); at Kansas (Sat)|
|4. Kansas St.||
8 - 6
|at Ok State (Tue); vs. Colorado (Sat)|
|4. Oklahoma State||
8 - 6
|vs. Kansas St (Tue); at Oklahoma (Sat)|
|7. Texas A&M||
7 - 7
|at Colorado (Wed); vs. Missouri. (Sat)|
6 - 8
|vs. Iowa St. (Wed); at Baylor (Sat)|
5 - 9
|at Texas (Mon); vs. Nebraska (Sat)|
|10. Iowa State||
3 - 11
|at Nebraska (Wed); vs. Texas Tech (Sat)|
|10. Texas Tech||
2 - 12
|vs. Kansas (Wed); at Iowa St. (Sat)|
1 - 13
|vs. Texas A&M (Wed); at Kansas St. (Sat)|
Thoughts on the final week of the regular season ahead after the jump.
Biggest Surprise from Last Week: The ease of Kansas’ two wins. It was a 54b’s "show me" week for the Jayhawks last week, and they certainly answered the call. Even though KU caught a break as Blake Griffin sat in street clothes on Monday night sidelined with post-concussion symptoms, the Jayhawks left little doubt as to who is the Big XII’s best team. Kansas won in Norman 87-78 to take command of the conference race and slammed the door shut with a dominating 90-65 win over Missouri on Sunday. It is easy to overlook the fantastic job done by Bill Self this season as it seems the Jayhawks are always among the nation’s elite. KU did win the national title last year, but they also lost all five starters to the NBA and graduation. Self probably knew what he would get this season from Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich but the rest of the team was completely unproven. Kudos for Self for bringing along Tyshawn Taylor and Mario Little and for getting role players like Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed to play above their abilities. One more thing, the Jayhawks do have two outstanding offensive players in Collins and Aldrich but they are winning with defense and rebounding. This make shift group is poised to go 15-1 in the Big XII and grab the fifth straight conference title for KU. I love Rick but Bill Self is on another level.
Team with Most Favorable Schedule: Kansas. The Jayhawks cruised in their hell week last week and are now rewarded with two very winnable games—at Texas Tech and vs. Texas. The only way KU drops either of those is if they start looking ahead to the Big XII and NCAA tournaments. That seems unlikely, though. All the other top teams have toss up games—OU at Missouri, Missouri at Texas A&M, Oklahoma State at Oklahoma—making an outright KU title almost a certainty.
Team with Least Favorable Schedule: Oklahoma. How quickly things change! Just more than a week ago, OU came to Austin frontrunners in the conference, destined for a #1 NCAA seed, and positioned to be the top ranked team in the country. After a slow start in Austin, a Blake Griffin concussion, and a home loss to Kansas, everything has changed. The Sooners are no longer control their Big XII destiny and may have to win in Columbia on Wednesday to avoid drawing the three seed in Oklahoma City. Another loss would also severely damage the Sooners’ hope of a #1 seed as Michigan State, Memphis, Louisville, and Duke are all closing fast. Even if OU finds away to win at Missouri, they would then face the hottest team in the conference, Oklahoma State, on Saturday. The Cowboys took a big step toward the NCAA tournament with their home win over Texas but a road win over OU would definitely punch their ticket.
Team with Most to Prove: Still Kansas State. Last week I wrote the Wildcats needed to win three of their last four to feel safe and win either at Missouri or at Oklahoma State. So far they are just 1-1 and got blown out at Missouri. KSU still has an RPI above 70 and is without a single impressive non-conference victory. A home win over Missouri and road wins over Texas and Texas A&M are probably not going to be enough. Even with a weak NCAA bubble, Kansas State needs to do more.
Games of the Week:
Monday Baylor at Texas 8 pm ESPN A Longhorn victory assures Texas of an NCAA berth. A loss would make the Big XII tournament way too important.
Tuesday Kansas State at Oklahoma State 6:30 pm ESPN2 As mentioned above, Kansas State really needs this one. OSU needs it too. Two teams fighting for their NCAA lives produces must see tv.
Wednesday Oklahoma at Missouri 8 pm Big XII Network OU needs this one for a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament. Meanwhile, Missouri needs to bounce back from the KU embarrassment and add another line to their NCAA resume.
Saturday Missouri at Texas A&M 1 pm ESPN2 Assuming the Aggies win at Colorado on Wednesday, a win would put them at 9-7 in the conference and probably into a tie for fifth. That would be unbelievable considering they started 1-4 and 3-7 in the Big XII. A home victory over NCAA-tourney bound Missouri would also position A&M for an improbable NCAA berth.