Basketball

2/9 12 Thoughts on This Week in the Big 12: Bubble Teams to Recruiting Wraps!

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1. Following their win on Saturday against Kansas, is Oklahoma State officially off the bubble? Not quite. The Big 12 is too rugged and unpredictable to say that any team, outside of Kansas, Iowa State, and Oklahoma is solidly off the bubble and in the Big Dance. Any of the other teams still in contention for an NCAA tourney bid can make a push, or could lose 4 or 5 in a row and find themselves scrambling for a couple of big wins come Conference tournament time. Specifically for Oklahoma State, check out their non-conference schedule, it’s very unimpressive. They need a couple more solid wins in conference play.

2. Parlaying off of the Oklahoma State win over KU, the game showed the vulnerability of the Jayhawks this season. They are not a great rebounding team, don’t have a big time interior presence (a staple under Self), and their point guard play is sporadic. This season’s top 10 ranking is a testament to a fantastic coaching job by Bill Self. But, there’s no doubt they will be overseeded are a candidate to be a second or third round ouster come March.

3. West Virginia fans are starting to get very worried about their squad following back to back double digit losses to Oklahoma and Baylor. It’s funny how this WVU hoops season is starting to mirror their football season. As you may recall during the football season, West Virginia fans were talking about the outside chance of winning the Big 12 as late as November 1st, heading into their home match up with TCU. The Mountaineers lost a heartbreaker 31-30, which set off 3 straight losses, and 4 of 5 to end the season.

Ironically, just last week, WVU fans were wondering whether or not the Mountaineers could make a run at Kansas in the Big 12 race. Now they have lost 2 in a row, are 6-4, middle of the pack in the Big 12, and just trying to get back on track and make the Big Dance.

4. Speaking of real messes… Kansas State. Boy, Bruce Weber is taking a beating for their four game losing streak and for the recent suspension of Marcus Foster and Malek Harris. It’s unclear why they were suspended last week, but it’s clearly warranted because there is no known timetable for their return. Reality is, K-State was an average team through non-conference play, and then got off to a hot 4-1 start in Big 12 action. They overachieved, fans got a bit too excited, and now they’ve come crashing back down to earth. They are an average team in the conference. But, I won’t get on Weber. He’s a damn good coach, dealing with some immature players.

5. Geez, remember when people were wondering whether or not TCU was a dark horse NCAA Tourney team? That just goes to show you what a weak non-conference schedule (13-0), can do to some fans’ perception. TCU is going to keep getting better under Trent Johnson. But, enough with pointing to the non-conference schedule. It was a joke, and they are not close to being NCAA Tournament worthy.

6. Every time I make my picks, I do as much research as I can, and try to feel as good about them as possible. But, there are few picks that I’ve felt as good about as Iowa State -16 against Texas Tech on Saturday. After the Red Raiders stunned the Cyclones in Lubbock last week, ISU came back and hammered Tech 75-38 in Ames on Saturday. Tech has been a horrendous road team, Iowa State is unreal at home, and the line was thrown off by Tech’s win in Lubbock, and their double digit win over K-State last Wednesday.

7. Before we get to the football thoughts… here is our tweet of the week! Witty and funny from Lanny.

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8.  So, Texas fans were obviously pumped up to flip 4-star Baltimore QB Kai Locksley from Florida State. But, in the end the Longhorns greed got the best of them. They ended up losing 4-star QB commit Zach Gentry, who was poached new Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh. As I understand it, Gentry was promised he was the only QB in the UT 2015 Class. Then, word got out that UT was pursuing other QB’s, notably 5-star Kyler Murray from Allen, TX (which was a longshot to begin with). So then Gentry re-opened his recruitment and went to Ann Arbor. The Longhorns took a risk going after the long shot Murray, missed out, lost Gentry, and end up with Locksley. Overall, that’s a downgrade. Locksley is the definition a long-term project that may ultimately end up playing another position. Gentry is a more polished and pro-style QB, preferable for Charlie Strong. So, while Locksley was a great grab, the Texas QB situation is still a complete unknown for next season, and also for the future.

9. The most underrated, least talked about recruit in the Big 12 2015 class is Texas Tech’s Breiden Fehoko. The 4-star defensive tackle from Hawaii will fill an immediate need for a Red Raider run defense that was historically poor last season. Fehoko was an early enrollee, so he will get spring practice as well to learn the system and improve his strength. In general, Tech’s was overlooked because of it’s size (18). But I like the direction Kliff Kingsbury is taking the program.

10. It’s possible that OU linebackers coach Tim Kish saved his job during the recruiting season. Oklahoma landed a second linebacker late in the recruiting process in Louisiana’s Arthur McGinnis, a 4-star prospect, who joins fellow 4-star LB Ricky DeBerry. Rightfully so, Kish has been a target of disgruntled Sooner fans in recent seasons. But with his recent recruiting haul, it is fair for Bob Stoops to give him at least another season to try and improve his unit.

11. TCU’s recruiting class was far from spectacular. That being said, no one has done more with less than Gary Patterson. Also, when a team has a large amount of success in a season, that typically takes a full recruiting cycle to show in the recruiting battles. There are early reports that 2016 will in fact be a monster class for the Horned Frogs. Of their eight current pledges, five of them are 4-star players. In the 2015 class, TCU had two 4-star players. Gary Patterson and the TCU Horned Frogs are going to be competitive in the Big 12 for years to come.

12. My picks for Saturday went 3-1 (never got to UT-KSU because the line was not on the board Saturday morning, and I had to run to call a game myself). That makes it 6-1-1 so far in basketball season. I’ll take it. Picks for this Saturday go up on Friday afternoon.

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