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Big 12 Confidential (Week 7)

by Jonathan Wall | February 23rd, 2008

Hot Topic:
With the Big 12 season winding down, it’s time to once again take another look at where all six major contenders stand in terms of chances of getting into the Big Dance.

Week 8 should give us a lot to talk about with the conference tournament quickly approaching, so this week’s edition of the “Confidential” is going to be shortened.

Kansas (24-2 overall/9-2 Big 12)
Chance of making the tournament: LOCK

Stretch-run objectives: Win a couple of road games. The Jayhawks are almost a near-lock for a top-two seed, but a road win against Texas A&M or Iowa State should just add to their already-stellar stock.

Must-win games: @ Iowa State (2/27), @ Texas A&M (3/8)

Texas A&M (20-6/6-5)
Chance of making the tournament: GOOD

Stretch-run objectives: A&M committed the cardinal sin last weekend, losing to Oklahoma State at home 59-54. The Aggies must win-out at home if they want a chance of a decent seed. Losing to either Baylor or Oklahoma on the road will only make the committee think harder about whether or not the Aggies really deserve to be in the tournament.

Must-win games: @ Oklahoma (3/1), @ Baylor (3/5)

Texas
Chance of making the tournament: LOCK

Stretch-run objectives: Find another forward. The Longhorns have Damion James to compliment the outside combo of Augustin and Abrams, but other than that, they lack another inside presence. If the ‘Horns plan on making a run through the tournament, they better see if Connor Atchley or Gary Johnson can help carry a bigger load.

Must-win games: @ Kansas State (2/25)

Kansas State (18-7/8-3)
Chance of making the tournament: VERY GOOD

Stretch-run objectives: Rest Beasley and Walker. Both have played over 26 minutes per game and will be relied upon heavily when the ‘Cats make the tournament. A loss to Nebraska on the road doesn’t help the stock, but they did have some wiggle room.

Must-win games: @ Baylor (2/23), Texas (2/25)

Baylor (17-8/5-6)
Chance of making the tournament: FAIR

Stretch-run objectives: Stop losing. It’s that simple now for the Bears, who have lost six of their last seven games. If the losses continue pile up, then Baylor can kiss their tournament chances good-bye.

Must-win games: Kansas State (2/23), @ Colorado (2/27), Texas A&M (3/5)

Oklahoma (18-8/6-5)
Chance of making the tournament: GOOD

Stretch-run objectives: Just keep winning. Home win against Baylor have the Sooners on a three-game streak.

Must-win games: @ Texas (2/23), Texas A&M (3/1), @ Oklahoma State (3/5)

Big 12 Player of the Year candidates (After Week 6)
1. Michael Beasley, F, Kansas State: Still without question the best player in the Big 12.

2. D.J. Augustin, PG, Texas: 27 points against Texas A&M marked the 12th game this season that he’s scored over 20 points.

3. Brandon Rush, G, Kansas: The points might be down (26 total in his last three games), but his leadership on the court is second to none.

4. Darrell Arthur, F (Kansas): 54 points in his last three games.

5. Blake Griffin, F (Oklahoma): Scored 29 points in a critical win against Baylor. He is proving on a nightly basis why he’s one of the best forwards in the Big 12.

Dropped out: Joseph Jones (Texas A&M), Bryan Davis (Texas A&M)

Notables: Bill Walker (Kansas State), A.J. Abrams (Texas)

Big 12 Freshman of the Year candidates (After Week 6)
1. Beasley:
Interesting stat of the week on Beasley: He only has four games this year where he hasn’t recorded a double-double in points and rebounds.

2. Bill Walker, F, Kansas State: The solid numbers continue for the second-best freshman in the Big 12.

4. Blake Griffin, F, Oklahoma: Playing like a man possessed since fully recovering my the MCL injury. 29 points against Baylor couldn’t have come at a better time for the Sooners.

3. LaceDarius Dunn, G, Baylor: Getting more minutes each game (29 min and 30 min in two of the last three) after only averaging about 18 per contest over the past couple of weeks.

5. DeAndre Jordan, C, Texas A&M: 15 points against Oklahoma State marked only the 12th time all season that Jordan has reached double digits in points.

Top 5 teams in the Big 12 (updated every Tuesday)
1. Kansas (24-2, 9-2 Big 12): Should be chomping at the bit to get another road game after failing to beat Texas in Austin.

Tournament bound? No question.

2. Texas (22-4, 9-2): Six consecutive wins in conference is something to hang your hat on at the end of the day. A Horns’ win on Saturday against Oklahoma should continue to give one of the hottest teams in college basketball even more confidence.

Tournament bound? Their last stretch of games makes them a mortal lock for the NCAA tournament.

3. Kansas State (18-7, 8-3): Losing to Nebraska wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day, it’s not the type of road victory that should throw Beasley and company off their game. Baylor on Saturday in Waco is a big game for both schools.

Tournament bound? Beat Baylor on Saturday and can Kansas State can almost punch its ticket for the Big Dance.

4. Texas A&M (20-6, 6-5): This is the worst spot A&M could find itself in. After winning five straight, the Aggies came down to earth with two huge losses (a home game to OSU and a road game to Texas) to knock them on their backside. Really need to beat Nebraska this weekend to get back on track.

Tournament bound? Still in, but A&M cannot afford another embarrassing home loss to a bottom six Big 12 team.

5. Oklahoma (18-8, 6-5): Big road game against Texas should show where the Sooners really stand in the Big 12 pecking order. Victory at home against Baylor is the type of game OU needed with so few conference games remaining.

Tournament bound? Could be the biggest question mark in the entire NCAA. The Sooners have some strong non-conference wins, but they best win a couple more road games to improve their stock.

Best of the Rest: Baylor (17-8, 5-6), Texas Tech (14-11, 5-6), Nebraska (15-9, 4-7),

Game of the week
Oklahoma (18-8, 6-5) at Texas (22-4, 9-2) — Saturday, 3:30 EST (ABC)

For a team like Oklahoma, games like this mean everything. The national media has all but suggested that Oklahoma will probably be one of the toughest teams to pick on Selection Sunday, and with a road game against Texas on Saturday, the Sooners should know that a win against one of the hottest teams in the country could do wonders for positioning.

Texas, on the other hand, is just playing for seeding. With D.J. Augustin leading the team, the Horns’ have finally seemed to hit their stretch at the right time. Rick Barnes will have his players ready for what should be another intense matchup in the classic Red River Rivalry.

Texas has the momentum and the stars to take this one the distance.
Final Score Prediction: Texas 82, Oklahoma 76

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6 Responses to “Big 12 Confidential (Week 7)”  

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  1. Mark Says:

    KU lost today to Oklahoma State. Texas beat Oklahoma State in Stillwater earlier in the year. They also beat KU.

    KU is now two games behind Texas (thanks to the tie-breaker) and looking like they won’t catch Texas.

    I tried to tell you KU was overrated and not as good as Texas :o )

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  2. Sam Says:

    It appears Nebraska is creeping into the bracket picture as well. They did lose at Colorado and Iowa State, but have no other bad losses. They beat Oregon and Arizona State in the early season, and now won games vs. Kansas State and at Texas A&M. If they win their remaining easy games against Oklahoma State and Colorado, and beat wither Oklahoma or Texas, they’ll be 8-8 in conference play and several good wins which I think should earn them a bid.

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  3. John Says:

    @ Sam. I think Nebraska is in very good shape. They need to do what you said because at 8-8 makes them on the right side of the bubble. Remember what I call the ”X-Factor”: Teams from one-bid conferences that get upset in their conference tournaments. The three best examples are Butler, South Alabama and Stephen F. Austin. If any of those teams should fall they probably will make it in. Butler is a lock, South Alabama is in good shape and Stephen F. Austin could finish 27-4 even with a loss in the Southland final. My advice for Nebraska is finish 9-7 or 8-8 and win at least one game in the Big 12 Tournament to feel safe.

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  4. David Mihm Says:

    Sam, let’s assume Nebraska wins out except for Texas. At 8-8 in conference play, that might be good enough this year, because the Bubble is so weak. But at this point, I can’t put them in at two games under .500. Both games this week are HUGE. OU is a Tournament-caliber team and would make three victims in a row. And the Cowboys are hot and SO tough to beat in Stillwater. Nebraska could go from the ninth team out this week, to a 10 seed next week if they win both.

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  5. Dex Says:

    Nebraska is definitely not in very good shape. A lot has to happen for them to have a good shot at an atlarge. For one, they need to win both games vs. Oklahoma and at OSU, and that won’t happen. They’d be lucky to get one of those. The only remaining game that the Huskers will win is vs. Colorado, who’s already beaten them once. There are several more deserving teams on the bubble and the teams towards the bottom of the Pac 10 and Big East will push Nebraska right off the bubble.

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  6. Jonathan Wall Says:

    I have to agree with Dex. I can’t see how Nebraska gets in to the tournament. The only way would be via an undefeated finish to the season and two tournament wins, or winning the Big 12 title. I’m not the negative type, but I have a hard time seeing them doing either of those. They should be happy to grab an NIT berth after a horrid start to the conference season.

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