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Big 12 MBB Preview: 2/28-3/3

The final week of regular season conference play gets under way!

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

#3 Baylor @ #21 Texas

Monday, February 28th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

#3 Baylor (24-5, 12-4) secured a massive victory over the weekend against Kansas. This moved Baylor up to just a half a game behind Kansas who is in first place in the conference, and put them in a great position for an NCAA tournament 1 seed. For Baylor to win another Big 12 regular season title, basically two things need to happen. First, Baylor needs to win its last two regular season games. Second, Kansas needs to lose one of its last three games. Focusing on what Baylor can control brings us to this matchup with #21 Texas (21-8, 10-6). In their last game, the Longhorns survived a very close game against the bottom team in the Big 12, West Virginia. Even so, Texas is on a two game winning streak with an earlier victory over TCU. Baylor was able to defeat the Longhorns at home with relative ease, winning 80-63. That was even with Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua going down early in that game. Baylor has certainly had more time to acquaint themselves with a smaller lineup. It also still remains to be seen if and when leading scorer LJ Cryer will be more consistently back in the lineup. Additionally, the home atmosphere should be good for Texas as this is their last game in the Erwin Center before they move to their new stadium next year. Nevertheless, I think Baylor will be carrying a lot of momentum from their win over the weekend and can secure this victory in Austin.

74-60 Baylor

Kansas State @ #12 Texas Tech

Monday, February 28th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN2

#12 Texas Tech (22-7, 11-5) suffered a huge setback over the weekend with a loss to TCU. That drops the Red Raiders down into third in the conference and very likely eliminates them from the regular season title race absent a wild last week of conference play. Regardless, they will try to refocus as they host Kansas State (14-14, 6-10). The Wildcats fought against Iowa State but ultimately came up a point short, which now sets them at a three game losing streak. The Wildcats have played tough in those losses but they’re coming up at really the worst time possible. KState needs to secure some big wins down the stretch to have a chance at making the NCAA tournament. This would go a long way toward that goal, but ultimately I just don’t see it happening unless Texas Tech has a really off shooting night. However, it is worth noting that Kansas State won at home in their last game at Texas Tech. Still, the environment Tech has been able to build at home this season makes that quite a different challenge in this game.

75-66 Texas Tech

West Virginia @ Oklahoma

Tuesday, March 1st 6:00 PM CT, ESPN2

This matchup marks a battle between the bottom two teams in the conference, as Oklahoma (15-14, 5-11) hosts West Virginia (14-15, 3-13). Both teams are very likely on the outside looking in for the NCAA tournament, so every game counts at this point (including what would probably have to be a very deep Big 12 tournament run). West Virginia has lost thirteen of their last fourteen games. Oklahoma has lost eleven of their last fourteen games, but they did win their last game in overtime against Oklahoma State. In the last meeting between these two in Morgantown, Oklahoma came out with a 72-62 victory. The Sooners have slightly better momentum right now and are probably just a better team, so I imagine they will win at home in this one.

71-60 Oklahoma

#6 Kansas @ TCU

Tuesday, March 1st 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+

Kansas (23-5, 12-3) still holds a half game lead in the Big 12, but their loss to Baylor denied them a chance to lock up a share of that title on Saturday. They can still secure a shared or outright championship with three wins this week. That starts with the first game of a home and home with TCU (18-9, 7-8). The Horned Frogs should feel pretty good about their tournament odds right now, but a win against Kansas would essentially make them a lock. TCU is coming into this game with momentum, as they beat Texas Tech over the weekend. I do believe that Kansas and TCU will split this series: it’s hard to beat a good, tournament quality team twice in back-to-back games. All it would likely take is Kansas’s Ochai Agbaji to have one off night. I would guess the Horned Frogs’ best chance is in their home game, so I’ll pick them in this one.

78-75 TCU

Oklahoma State @ Iowa State

Wednesday, March 2nd 6:00 PM CT, ESPN+

Iowa State (20-9, 7-9) is on a four game winning streak at the best time of the season, moving themselves from a bubble team to pretty firmly in the NCAA tournament. The Cyclones can keep building on that momentum as they host Oklahoma State (13-15, 6-10). The Cowboys suffered a deflating, overtime loss to rival Oklahoma in their last game. With only two games remaining on the season for Oklahoma State because of a postseason ban, it remains to be seen if the Cowboys will pack it in or fight really hard as their season ends. I expect the latter as Oklahoma State has been a surprisingly tough competitor this year. And even though Iowa State lost their first meeting with the Cowboys, this is another example of where I just don’t see Oklahoma State sweeping this series. Give me the Cyclones in Ames.

68-62 Iowa State

TCU @ #6 Kansas

Thursday, March 3rd 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+

There isn’t a whole lot more to say in this game, other than the prediction for this one would depend greatly on the first meeting between Kansas and TCU. Still, I don’t think TCU has what it takes to win in Lawrence or sweep the Jayhawks. So I have Kansas in this one. Bears fans will definitely want to tune in for both of these games (assuming Baylor beats Texas on Monday).

83-78 Kansas