#20 West Virginia @ Texas
Monday, February 24th 6:00 PM CT, ESPNU
#20 West Virginia (19-8, 7-7) is still in a deeply troubling trend after a weekend loss to TCU. They now have to travel to Texas (16-11, 6-8) who has strung together a couple of wins in a bid to bounce their season back. West Virginia has now lost four of their last five, with their lone win coming at home against Oklahoma State. This game is tough to pick because West Virginia is certainly more talented than Texas, but these teams are trending in very opposite directions. I think I still like WVU in this game because, as you might remember, the Mountaineers beat the Longhorns in their last matchup by a whopping 38 points. It will probably be closer than that, though.
78-69 West Virginia
Oklahoma State @ #1 Kansas
Monday, February 24th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN
#1 Kansas (24-3, 13-1) is fresh off a huge win at Baylor. They now have to defend their new top ranking in an extremely quick turnaround against Oklahoma State (14-13, 4-10). On paper, Kansas should absolutely win this game. However, the Cowboys have shown their ability to topple top dogs in the conference with a win over Texas Tech a few weeks back, two, close games against Baylor, and a weekend win over Oklahoma in their last game. Combine that with Udoka Azubuike likely still being pretty tired from the Baylor game and OSU could maybe keep this one close. Kansas will still win it, but hey maybe the Cowboys make it interesting.
TCU @ Iowa State
Tuesday, February 25th 6:00 PM CT, ESPNU
TCU (15-12, 6-8) got a much needed bounce-back win against West Virginia over the weekend. They now travel to Ames to battle Iowa State (11-16, 4-10). The Cyclones got pretty thoroughly beat by Texas Tech in their last game, exposing some of the difficulties they will face without their star Tyrese Haliburton. Still, if Iowa State can steal a game or two more this season this might be one of them. I like the Cyclones to narrowly beat the Horned Frogs in front of the Hilton crowd.
75-73 Iowa State
Kansas State @ #2 Baylor
Tuesday, February 25th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+
Well, #2 Baylor (24-2, 13-1) finally lost a conference game and are now tied for first in the conference as opposed to holding that title outright. Still, there’s much room for optimism. That loss came to what is now the #1 team in the country, a team that Baylor had already beaten earlier in the season. What’s more, the Bears did not play their best and still only lost by three with a chance to tie it at the end. However, one criticism I will make that I have been harping on with some regularity in these posts: free throw shooting finally caught up to Baylor, as they only went 8-15 from the line. Bump that percentage from 53.3% to even 70% like Kansas shot and its probably Baylor coming away with a win. Part of that can be blamed on bad free throw shooters but part of that is also on the guards who are (or at least should be) pretty good at the line, but have been very unclutch as of late. I can think of a particular one and one in the last game where Jared Butler couldn’t get the front end to fall in a critical moment. However, I digress. That’s something that needs worked out before the tournament otherwise Baylor will get bounced earlier than they should.
With that loss in the rearview mirror, Baylor now hosts Kansas State (9-18, 2-12). Kansas State has just been flat-out not good this year and everything points to Baylor getting this win at home. Baylor beat the Wildcats on the road by six in their last matchup. However, this game will be interesting to see what the psychological effect of losing for the first time in over three months is. If Baylor blows the doors off of Kansas State, there should be no worries moving forward. If they struggle to put them away or, dare I say, lose this game, then there might be some worries about confidence coming down the stretch. However, I have seen nothing this year to make me think this isn’t a mentally tough team. Baylor handles Kansas State just fine and moves forward.
#22 Texas Tech @ Oklahoma
Tuesday, February 25th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN2
#22 Texas Tech (18-9, 9-5) had a great couple of wins last week. Granted, they were against Kansas State and Iowa State. Still, they did what they needed to and got back on the right track. They now face some potentially stiffer competition in Oklahoma (16-11, 6-8). Oklahoma is a team that REALLY needs a win right now. They have lost three in a row, including their most recent loss to Oklahoma State. Their other two losses to Baylor and Kansas aren’t that concerning, but losing to their instate rival was a big blow. If they keep the losing streak going they will quickly find themselves on the outside looking in for the tournament. I actually do like Tech to win this one, so the Sooners might be entering panic mode quickly.
72-65 Texas Tech
Overall Prediction Record
57-23 (71.3%) (Last Saturday was a rough day of picking for me)