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Big 12 MBB Preview: 3/5

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The final set of Big 12 games before the conference tournament with plenty of title implications on the line!

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

TCU @ West Virginia

Saturday, March 5th 1:00 PM CT, ESPN+

TCU (19-10, 8-9) did Baylor a big favor during the week by beating Kansas on Tuesday. They almost did Baylor a massive favor, but came up just a bit short of beating Kansas back-to-back. Still, the Horned Frogs looked quite impressive and will be trying to finish their conference play with a win here to reach a .500 conference record. TCU should be in the NCAA tournament regardless, but a loss to West Virginia (14-16, 3-14), who sits at the bottom of the conference, would certainly hurt the Horned Frog’s tournament seeding. West Virginia has to win the Big 12 tournament at this point to make it to the NCAA tournament. And they will be the bottom seed of the Big 12 regardless of how this game goes. So really, this game doesn’t matter much at all for the Mountaineers other than for potential momentum and fine tuning. TCU won their first meeting with the Mountaineers by ten points. And given how good TCU looked during the week, I’ll take them by double digits.

78-63 TCU

#12 Texas Tech @ Oklahoma State

Saturday, March 5th 2:00 PM CT, ESPN+

#12 Texas Tech (23-7, 12-5) barely hung on in their game against Kansas State to keep their conference championship hopes on life alert. Sitting a game behind Baylor and Kansas, the Red Raiders need both teams to lose and they need to win this game to split a three way Big 12 title. That’s a bit of a tall order but not entirely out of the realm of possibility. The easiest component of that is potentially this game against Oklahoma State (14-15, 7-10). However, the Cowboys will have extra motivation here as this is their last game of the season thanks to a postseason ban that includes the conference tournament. So Oklahoma State will be giving it their all without any reason to hold back. That being said, I just think Texas Tech is a better team, as they won by 21 points in their first meeting. It might be a bit closer here, but I like the Red Raiders to win this one (unless their offense randomly collapses, as it sometimes does).

71-63 Texas Tech

#21 Texas @ #6 Kansas

Saturday, March 5th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN

#6 Kansas (24-6, 13-4) barely avoided disaster this week by coming back and beating TCU in the second of their two meetings this week. However, their loss in the first means that this game is very much so a must win. If they win, they will get at least a share of the Big 12 title. If they lose, then they’d have to hope for a Baylor loss. #21 Texas (21-9, 10-7) suffered a really disheartening loss to Baylor during the week. The Longhorns were closing out the Frank Erwin Center in its last ever men’s basketball game and they couldn’t come up with a win to send it out in style. Still, the Longhorns can do a lot for their potential seeding and confidence if they were to win here. And they certainly have the ability to do just that as they beat the Jayhawks in Austin earlier in the season. However, Phog Allen is a totally different beast as we’ve seen time and time again. So I have the Jayhawks in this one, but as gross as it feels most Baylor fans should be rooting for a Texas win. It would guarantee a Big 12 title for Baylor and give them a shot at sole possession of that title. And if the Longhorns do end up winning, the rest differential could play a factor as Texas has had since Monday to recoup while Kansas had to play games on Tuesday and Thursday.

75-71 Kansas

Oklahoma @ Kansas State

Saturday, March 5th 3:00 PM CT, ESPN+

Oklahoma (16-14, 6-11) and Kansas State (14-15, 6-11) face off in what is actually a pretty consequential game for the Big 12 tournament. West Virginia is already guaranteed to have to play Wednesday in the play in game as the bottom seed. With both of these teams tied for second to last in the standings, the winner will have a bye and the loser will have to play the Mountaineers on Wednesday. Oklahoma finally started stringing together some wins, beating Oklahoma State and West Virginia back to back. Another win here and things would be potentially looking up for the Sooners who would have some momentum going into the Big 12 tournament. They’d likely need to win a couple games there as well to have a shot at the NCAA tournament. Kansas State, on the other hand, has really been struggling, losing their last four games by mostly close scores. The Wildcats need even more help if they want to make the NCAA tournament. So a win here is close to a must. Still, even though this game is in Manhattan, I’ve got the Sooners winning this one based on momentum and overall talent. They beat the Wildcats way back at the beginning of conference play by two points.

81-75 Oklahoma

Iowa State @ #3 Baylor

Saturday, March 5th 5:00 PM CT, ESPN2

By the time this game tips we should know exactly what the stakes are for #3 Baylor (25-5, 13-4), since we will have the results of the Kansas game (barring overtime). Baylor will either be playing for a share of the Big 12 championship or sole possession of that title. Either way, clearly there is a lot of motivation here for the Bears to pick up a victory on senior day. Iowa State (20-10, 7-10) should be pretty comfortably in the NCAA tournament given their number of quad one wins (third best in the nation, as an aside Baylor is the best in the nation), but they would certainly like to add another here. That being said, my goodness did the Cyclones’ offense look atrocious in their weekday game against Oklahoma State. Iowa State mustered only 36 points total. Horrendous. Obviously, I think the Cyclones will come out motivated not to repeat such a bad performance, and a lot of that will rely on Izaiah Brockington who is far and away the Cyclones’ leading scorer. However, Baylor has a better defense than Oklahoma State so that could very well pose problems for Brockington and the Cyclones. Way back at the beginning of conference play the Bears beat the Cyclones by five in Ames. However, so much has changed since then that this feels like a very different matchup. And I think those differences largely benefit Baylor (injuries aside) as Iowa State has overall regressed since then and Baylor has climbed back to a comparable position as a potential one seed.

73-61 Baylor