TCU @ #7 Baylor
Saturday, February 19th 11:00 AM CT, ESPN2
#7 Baylor (21-5, 9-4) is fresh off of a tough road loss to Texas Tech. The Bears showed flashes of looking really cohesive, but it’s apparent that with Jonathan Tchamwa Tchactoua out for the season the Bears are going to be desperately lacking depth in the interior. That means Flo Thamba and Matthew Mayer will need to 1) stay out of foul trouble and 2) find the stamina to not fade away as the game progresses. TCU (16-7, 5-6) will be a good test of Baylor’s ability to do that against not top 15 talent. The Horned Frogs are certainly a tournament team, but they are also a step down from the likes of Tech and Kansas. TCU enters this game on a two game losing streak, with losses to Texas Tech and Iowa State. Baylor beat the Horned Frogs in Fort Worth in their first meeting, but obviously things have changed since then. Still, even with injuries, Baylor is good enough to clear TCU if they play strong defense, especially on TCU’s star, Mike Miles.
#11 Texas Tech @ #20 Texas
Saturday, February 19th 11:30 AM CT, ABC
#11 Texas Tech (20-6, 9-4) picked up a big win against Baylor in their last game. They’ll try to carry that momentum as they rematch their suddenly very heated rival, #20 Texas (19-7, 8-5). In their last meeting, Tech had one of the better atmospheres I’ve seen in a while as their fans poured the hate onto former coach, now Texas turncoat, Chris Beard. It was apparent in that game that Tech cared a lot more about the slight than the Texas players did and the Longhorns were not ready to bring the same intensity. I think the same thing might happen here, as rumor has it there are going to be a ton of Tech fans in Austin. Texas did beat rival Oklahoma in their last game, but Tech is certainly another level above the Sooners.
69-59 Texas Tech
Kansas State @ Oklahoma State
Saturday, February 19th 1:00 PM CT, ESPNU
Kansas State (14-11, 6-7) has strung together a nice little run that has put them firmly back into tournament talks. They have won four of their last five with their only loss coming to Baylor. They now face Oklahoma State (12-13, 5-8) who has cooled off a bit in conference play. The Cowboys have only won two of their last eight games. The Wildcats got a gritty, three point win in their last meetings with OSU. Even though this game is now on the road, I think Kansas State has been trending in the right direction and Oklahoma State has not. Give me the Wildcats.
65-61 Kansas State
Oklahoma @ Iowa State
Saturday, February 19th 1:00 PM CT, ESPN+
This game could very well be called the battle of desperation, as both of these teams need this win in a bad way. Iowa State (17-9, 4-9) has one of the highest quad 1 win totals in the country, and yet they are still somewhat fighting for a tournament spot given their fairly lousy conference performance. Their most recent win against TCU did help them out tremendously, though. Oklahoma (14-12, 4-9) is similarly fighting for a tournament spot, although they probably need some more help than the Cyclones. The Sooners beat Iowa State in Norman in their first meeting by a good margin, but they have been trending the absolute wrong way since that game, going 2-9 after that first matchup. The Cyclones haven’t been loads better in that stretch, going 4-7. But still, I think Iowa State has looked marginally better as of late and this game is at home. Give me the Cyclones in a close one.
63-60 Iowa State
#6 Kansas @ West Virginia
Saturday, February 19th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN
#6 Kansas (21-4, 10-2) has what feels like a pretty comfortable, 1 1⁄2 game lead over Baylor and Texas Tech who are tied for second in the conference. That lead has expanded thanks to two wins in a row over Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. They now travel to Morgantown to take on a struggling West Virginia (14-11, 3-9). The Mountaineers hold sole possession of bottom of the conference, thanks to a stretch where they have lost nine of their last ten games. So this is really a battle of the top versus the bottom. However, part of what makes the Big 12 so good this year is the parity throughout the entire league. It wouldn’t shock me if West Virginia somehow won this game. However, as far as making smart picks, there’s no way I can pick the Mountaineers over the Jayhawks. Kansas by double digits.