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Big 12 Men’s Basketball Preview 2/4-2/8

NCAA Basketball: Texas at Baylor Andrew Dieb-USA TODAY Sports

#17 Iowa State @ Oklahoma

Monday, February 4th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN2

#17 Iowa State (17-5, 6-3) is right in the thick of the Big 12 conference race and looks to maintain their position when they travel to Oklahoma (15-7, 3-6). It’s hard to explain exactly what has happened to Oklahoma this season, but they’ve gone from a top 25 team to one of the worst looking teams in the Big 12. After getting smacked at home by Baylor, they went on the road to last place West Virginia and got beat. The team has lost its willpower. Meanwhile, Iowa State picked up a solid win at home over Texas. Even though the Big 12’s leading scorer, Marial Shayok, had an objectively bad game, the rest of the team did enough to pull Iowa State into a low-scoring win over the Longhorns. Cyclones get this one done on the road.

78-65 Iowa State

West Virginia @ #18 Texas Tech

Monday, February 4th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

West Virginia (10-12, 2-7) picked up a gritty conference win at home over the weekend. After getting blown out by Iowa State in their previous game, they were able to take down the Sooners. Now they face a much more daunting task, traveling to #18 Texas Tech (17-5, 5-4). Texas Tech beat TCU pretty handily early last week before getting smoked in Lawrence by the Jayhawks. Tech’s defense is still, for the most part, very good. Their offense has been troublesome at times. West Virginia plays decently at home but really poorly on the road. The Red Raiders get this one done.

68-60 Texas Tech

#13 Kansas @ Kansas State

Tuesday, February 5th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

This game is HUGE for the Big 12 title race. Still unranked Kansas State (16-5, 6-2) sits tied atop the Big 12 with also unranked Baylor (AP voters are apparently not paying much attention to either the Wildcats or the Bears). #13 Kansas (17-5, 6-3) is a half game back, tied for second in the Big 12 with Iowa State. If this is the year Kansas gets unseated, Kansas State HAS to defend its home court. And I think they certainly have that capability, Kansas State has two electric players in Dean Wade and Barry Brown Jr. Home court advantage is big, especially against these Jayhawks, as Kansas is currently 1-5 in true road games. Their sole win was in Waco (the first day that Tristan Clark was injured, giving the Bears little time to reconfigure into the explosive offensive team they are now). There’s a lot of reasons to pick Kansas State here, but Kansas seems fired up over the recent NCAA ruling, barring Silvio De Sousa from playing this year or the next. We’ll see how long those emotions can carry this Kansas team, but I certainly think they’ll last through this instate rivalry game. Hopefully I’m wrong.

81-75 Kansas

Baylor @ Texas

Wednesday, February 6th 7:00 PM CT, LHN

Baylor (15-6, 6-2) is still criminally unranked entering this week. The Bears have been not only beating, but destroying the teams they’ve been playing. Makai Mason dropped 40 on TCU for the Bears to win by 26 in their last game. They beat Oklahoma by 30 on the road. They took down Alabama at home. They beat West Virginia on the road by 12 (the game was nowhere near as close as the final score might barely suggest). They beat then #8 Texas Tech by 11. And they beat Oklahoma State on the road. That’s the Bears last six games, from most recent to least. That’s a 6 game winning streak, and the most interesting part is none of those 6 games were won in the same manner. Some games Mason stepped up, one game it was King McClure, another it was Jared Butler, another it was all 11 players on the team. The Bears are playing small ball to perfection and have gone from an abysmal offensive team to one of the best. Texas (12-10, 4-5) is treading water to stay above .500 overall. They’ve only won 2 games in their last 8 (granted, one of those was against Kansas). These teams are just trending in totally different directions. But, as I’m sure those of you who have been reading these posts know, I am NOT going to pick the Bears. My streak of incorrectly picking Baylor games is now at 7 games. I’m a superstitious person, there is NO WAY I’m messing this streak up. Here’s to 0-8 for my incorrect picking streak.

75-73 Texas

Oklahoma State @ TCU

Wednesday, February 6th 8:00 PM CT, ESPNU

TCU (15-6, 3-5)... lol. But seriously, the Horned Frogs are in a major funk right now. The loss of Jaylen Fisher seems to be proving more and more damaging as the season wears on. There really isn’t a player for TCU that seems capable of being the emotional leader of the team. Alexander Robinson has been trying his best, and it is a noble effort, but the Frogs are still slipping fast. After getting handled by Texas Tech during the week, TCU took the full fury of Makai Mason and the Bears, getting absolutely embarassed. Oklahoma State (9-12, 2-6) is only a half game away from the bottom of the Big 12. But, the Cowboys are better than that might indicate. They beat South Carolina two games ago and have been close in most of their losses (although they did get smacked around by Kansas State last game). Still, I think this is the ideal spot for the Horned Frogs to try to start a recovery: a home game against one of the worst teams in the Big 12. TCU gets a win.

76-70 TCU