The first week of Big 12 men’s basketball saw the league finally lose games for the first time in 20 days. Here are three takeaways from the first week of the league slate.
Don’t forget about our new feature for men’s basketball — Daily Fantasy Lineups. Every night a Big 12 team is part of the Draft Kings pool, I’ll provide my picks for the game, along with my complete lineup. The hope is that by Big 12 play I’m able to put together a full Big 12 lineup during conference games. Here was my lineup for Saturday’s openers.
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More of THAT Gabe
I think many of us thought that Tre King would pick up the slack left by the injury to Aljaz Kunc. And the transfer may still. After all he’s played only two games this season.
But Gabe Kalscheur dropped in 23 points on Baylor in the Cyclones’ 15-point win over the Bears in just his second start this season. It was Kalscheur, not King, that slipped into the starting lineup. And Kalscheur delivered.
That boosted his season average to 10.7 points per game. In fact, if you look at Kalscheur’s history, both at Iowa State and Minnesota, you see a player that tends to hover around 10 to 12 points per game, on average.
But, every once in a while he goes off. Remember those 30 points he dropped on Memphis in the NIT Tip-off final last season? He only hit 20 or more points one more time that season, and it was against Texas.
He’s done it this season, too. Witness the 23 points he dropped on Villanova out in Oregon at the Phil Knight Invitational.
The problem is that he’s not been able to remain consistently in double digits. Until …
The last four games Kalscheur has scored 10 or more points — 12 against Iowa, 15 against McNeese State, 11 against Western Michigan and now 23 against Baylor. The last time he did that was a four-game stretch for Minnesota in 2019-20.
This is the most consistent Kalscheur has scored in double figures in nearly four years. It comes at the perfect time. I felt the transfer of Tyrese Hunter and the departure of Izaiah Brockington would open up the floor for Kalscheur to be a higher-level scorer.
Maybe it took Kunc’s injury, too. But going into the mid-week game Kalscheur can make if five straight. Iowa State needs it.
Who To Worry About After One Game?
One game shouldn’t invite overreaction, especially in this conference. Before Saturday, a Big 12 team hadn’t lost a game since Dec. 11. Twenty days isn’t a bad run.
I was at Texas Tech-TCU on Saturday, but I was keeping up with each game. Five teams had to lose, and here’s my ‘worry scale,’ from least worried to most worried:
West Virginia: I’m really impressed with what Bob Huggins has done there with a team that is basically either entirely new or incredibly young. Kansas State is a really tough out. The Mountaineers played well overall.
Baylor: I won’t push the panic button yet, but the Bears need more out of their interior game. The guard rotation is one of the best in the college game. But they need the Flo Thamba that crashed the boards in the final weeks of last season.
Texas Tech: The big concern here is the 23 turnovers the Red Raiders committed against TCU. The Horned Frogs sped them up and made them pay in the second half. The Horned Frogs also rendered Kevin Obanor inert. Even TCU coach Jamie Dixon was surprised by that.
Oklahoma: It was a rivalry game for the Sooners, so I expected them to be amped up. They played that way. The balanced scoring was what you want. But the Sooners need a second consistent rebounder. It can’t just be Tanner Groves.
Oklahoma State: I know Kansas paid a lot of attention to Avery Anderson III, and rightly so. But forwards Moussa Cisse and Kailb Boone didn’t have the kind of games they needed to, either. OSU has the potential to be a really good team with that starting five. But those three have to be there every night.
Let’s Talk About NET, Baby
See what I did there?
So, after the first round of Big 12 men’s basketball games all 10 teams remained in the Top 50 of NCAA NET, which is the primary tool the NCAA Tournament committee will use to select the field.
As many pointed out leading up to Saturday’s openers, because every Big 12 team was in the Top 50, every game shaped up as either a Quad 1 or Quad 2 game. So, that’s why no one moved out of the Top 50. To wit:
Oklahoma lost by a point to Texas and held at No. 49.
Even though Kansas beat Oklahoma State, it lost one placement from No. 5 to No. 6.
Iowa State jumped 14 spots from No. 40 to No. 26 after beating Baylor, while the Bears only dropped six spots (from No. 18 to No. 24)
West Virginia went on the road and lost to Kansas State and lost two spots (No. 11 to No. 13). Kansas State gained four spots (No. 33 to No. 29).
NET is updated daily, so there will be fluctuations even when the Big 12 is dark. But I’ll keep up with it and you can keep up with those updates at my Twitter account (@PostinsPostcard).
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard