1) The team playing the best basketball right now in the Big 12 is the Baylor Bears. The Bears have won 4 in a row, while the other top teams in the conference, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa State have struggled of late. Baylor has allowed 56 points per game over their current 4-game winning streak, and continues to be one of the best rebounding and shot blocking teams in the country. Granted, Scott Drew coached teams have been known to go flat come NCAA Tournament time… but right now, there’s no doubt they’re playing the most consistent hoops in the conference.
2) Speaking of teams that have turned it around… if the season ended today, Kansas State would have a bye in the Big 12 Tournament. K-State’s two game winning streak, combined with the struggles of Texas and Oklahoma State, allowed the Wildcats to leap frog both teams. Saturday’s game against Texas may very well be a play in game for the Big Dance. But, I think KSU needs to win Saturday, and win one game in the Big 12 Tourney to feel confident come Selection Sunday. Side note: where are the fans looking for Bruce Weber’s scalp now?
3) A team that probably isn’t feeling good about their Selection Sunday chances is Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have gone from a mid-season Big 12 dark horse contender, to a team hoping it can get off the bubble. The Cowboys have lost four in a row, and that includes losses to the two worst teams in the conference, TCU and Texas Tech. Travis Ford is less than three weeks removed from being discussed as a potential Big 12 Coach of the Year candidate. Now, he’s just hoping he’s coaching in the Big 12 come the 2015-16 season.
3a/4) Oklahoma State’s Athletics Director Mike Holder has never received enough criticism for handing coach Travis Ford essentially a 10-year contract extension following his first year on the job. Since the extension in 2009, the Cowboys haven’t won a single NCAA Tournament game. The contract is so long that is has actually provided job security for Ford, and has kept the program in an awkward standstill. Plus, that same contract was used by Mike Gundy’s camp in his contract negotiations. Travis Ford’s deal has been a complete albatross for the University in more ways than one.
5) So what genius TV executive decided on Saturday’s scheduling for the Big 12? There were three games with 4:00 ET tip offs, with another at 5:00 ET. It was nearly impossible to try to get a feel for any one of these games when they were all concurrently in progress. The only “kind of cool” thing? You didn’t have to go far to change the channel. For those of us with DirecTV (I’m deathly afraid of being “creepy” Rob Lowe), we had Texas-Kansas on ESPN (ch. 206), Oklahoma State – Texas Tech ESPNews (ch. 207), WVU-Baylor on ESPNU (ch. 208), and Iowa State – Kansas State on ESPN2 (ch. 209). My thumb had an easy afternoon.
6) This NCAA investigating is an appropriate ending to a disappointing season for top-10 recruit Cliff Alexander. The NCAA and Kansas have been very mum on what exactly is being investigated, other than nothing it appears to be an Alexander issue, rather than a KU issue. Either way, Washington DC based attorney Arthur McAfee has been enlisted to help Alexander. No one has given any indication how long a decision will take, but it seems KU, who held Alexander out of competition on Saturday, is taking the matter seriously. Yes, the Jayhawks got by the Longhorns, and yes, Alexander hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. But, the 6’8” forward does provide a big-bodied presence down low that they cannot replace come NCAA Tournament time.
7) It looks to be like the Oklahoma Sooners have just gotten lazy. OU played just two games in 12 days, against conference weaklings Texas Tech and TCU, and struggled both times. Maybe it’s just an immaturity, playing the two bottom feeders, with a week off in between, that made the Sooners come out sluggish in both games. But, this late in the season, it’s a tough time for Lon Kruger to try and turn the switch back on for his players. Amazingly, the Sooners still have a real shot a the Big 12 regular season title, and have games this week against Iowa State and Kansas. I’m very intrigued to see what the energy level is for OU over the next few days.
8) I believe our overly politically correct world and society is the only reason K-State Athletic Director John Currie felt the need to apologize to Kansas and their fan base following last week’s court storming. Nobody was hurt, a few players got bumped, so what did he apologize for? Sure, a couple of dopey, probably loaded, kids were a little more aggressive than they should’ve been. But, when a 6’8”, 240 lb, world class athlete is concerned about some stumpy, drunk kid bumping into him, I think it’s time for all of us to worry about bigger and better things. To the KU players’ credit, none of them openly complained. But, the whole thing was blown way out of proportion. Welcome to 2015.
9) Before the move to football, our Big 12 tweet of the week courtesy of Ryan Heffernon:
10) The Sooners lost a recruit, four-star Arlington Lamar QB Shane Buechele, to the Longhorns. Ouch! OU was supposedly the front runner, considering Buechele has a brother that played baseball in Norman, and he has two sisters that attend OU. Buechele is rated the No. 2 passer in Texas, but at only 6’1”, with some wheels, draws comparisons to Oklahoma State’s J.W. Walsh. Either way, it’s no doubt a loss for Bob Stoops and the Sooners, and once again shows that the hard work on the recruiting trail is continuing to pay off for Charlie Strong and his staff.
11) After Oklahoma State lost running backs coach Jemal Singleton to Arkansas last week, it left OSU with three coaching vacancies, and plenty of concern. Coaching staff shake ups, losses, and moves are often overlooked in college football. But, when Oklahoma State loses Singleton to Arkansas for the same job (granted, with special teams duties) and offensive line coach Bob Connelly to the same position at USC, it is a bad look for the program. Potential recruits don’t like to see that kind of turnover, and neither do their high school coaches. It makes the recruiting process that much more difficult, because often it is the assistants building the relationships. While it won’t have any immediate impact on anything done in Stillwater, it’s something to keep an eye on.
12) Another week where my picks on Saturday went 3-2 against the spread. TCU and Texas Tech continue to kill me! I deserve it. That’s now 14-8-1 on the season. I’ll still gladly take it.