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Top Five Takeaways From Saturday’s Big 12 Basketball Games

NCAA Basketball: Kansas State at Cincinnati

Here are five takeaways from Big 12 Conference men’s and women’s basketball on Saturday, as most of the conference was in action.

So what happened? Kansas State missed a big opportunity. Kansas’ loss to Baylor means something entirely new for the Jayhawks. Kansas’ win over Oklahoma may have locked the women in the NCAA Tournament. Double byes are getting spoken for and we nearly have the seeds set for the Big 12 women’s tournament.

Here are five thoughts on the day.

 

Missed Opportunities

When Pete Mundo and I spoke earlier this week during our Big 12 basketball podcast we talked about Kansas State’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament. We agreed that if the Wildcats could win two of their remaining three regular-season games, it would greatly improve their chances.

That started with a Saturday game against Cincinnati. Now, Cincinnati’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament might be done. But that doesn’t mean the Bearcats can’t screw up someone else’s chances.

And the Bearcats did, winning 74-72.

Tylor Perry went off once again for the Wildcats, scoring 26 points and draining six 3-pointers. John Newman III led Cincinnati with 18 points in a game where the Bearcats didn’t have Dan Skillings Jr. and CJ Fredrick.

But this goes beyond who did what. With Kansas and Iowa State next week, Kansas State needed this win. The Wildcats needed it bad. And they didn’t get it.

Now Kansas State’s road is much more difficult. If the Wildcats miss the NCAA Tournament, this is one of those games they’ll point to as a reason why.

What To Do With Kansas?

Kansas lost to Baylor, 82-74, on Saturday. Kevin McCullar Jr. finally got back on the floor and scored 20 points in 32 minutes. He played like he was trying to make up for lost time.

This was one of those games where both teams played at a high level. Each shot 55% from the floor and 75% from the free-throw line. What got Kansas was the 3-point shooting. Kansas was 4-for-13 and Baylor was 7-for-17. When you consider it was an eight-point win, that was the difference.

RayJ Dennis had a double-double, with 19 points and 10 assists. Jayden Nunn was perfect from the 3-point line en route to 18 points.

Kansas is now 9-7 in Big 12 play. Kansas has never lost seven games in a Big 12 season. The last time it lost seven or more conference games was in 1988-89, when the Jayhawks went 6-8 in the Big Eight. That was Roy Williams’ first season and the Jayhawks failed to make the NCAA Tournament at 19-12.

 

I don’t think the Jayhawks are going to miss the NCAA Tournament. But I think the committee has to ask itself a hard question when it’s time to fill out the bracket:

Is Kansas a Top 16 seed? Even with McCullar back, I’m not sure. Baylor? I’m starting to think they should be.

But, with one more week left and the Big 12 Tournament, a lot can change. And to be fair, the margins are small right now if you’re not Houston and Iowa State.  

Jayhawk Women Surge to KC

The Kansas women’s rally from complete irrelevance to a potential NCAA Tournament berth continued with an 83-74 win over Oklahoma on Saturday.

It was senior night, but it was freshman S’mya Nichols who led the way with 29 points. Holly Kersgieter, one of those seniors, added 26 points.

Beating OU is an odd bookend to Kansas’ rally. On Jan. 27 Kansas was 10-10 overall and 3-6 in Big 12 play after a 60-55 loss to the Sooners.

Since then, the Jayhawks have won 9 of their last 10, including two wins over Top 25-ranked teams in their last three wins (Kansas State, OU).

It’s made a difference. Kansas has gone from out of the NCAA Tournament to being one of the last four teams in per ESPN’s Bracketology — and that was before beating Oklahoma.

The job isn’t over yet. Kansas probably needs at least one more win in Kansas City. Two, which would get Kansas to 20 wins, would be ideal. It will be the difference between six or seven Big 12 teams in the NCAA Tournament.

 

Bye, Bye, Bye (Double Bye)

Houston and Iowa State entered the day in first place and second place, respectively.

By the end of the day that didn’t change. Both the Cougars and the Cyclones won road games, beating Oklahoma and UCF, respectively. Winning a road game is a big deal in this conference.

The Cyclones won one of the early games, 60-52. It was close, but the Cyclones went on an 11-2 run to end the game. Tre King put together a nice game for Iowa State, scoring 16 points and grabbing six rebounds.

Houston played one of the evening game and beat the Sooners, 87-85. It was the Kelvin Sampson game, as the Houston coach returned to the Lloyd Noble Center, where he coached the Sooners for several seasons. Sampson and the Cougars snuck out with a win.

J’Wan Roberts gave Houston a great game with 20 points.

With those wins, the two teams have clinched two of the double byes in the Big 12 Tournament.

Big 12 Women’s Tournament Seeding

One more game left, and that’s Oklahoma State at Baylor tomorrow. How is the seeding shaping up?

No. 1 Oklahoma: The Sooners were locked in, even before losing to Kansas.

No. 2 Texas: Locked in before their game with BYU, thanks to their win over Kansas State.

No. 3 Kansas State: The Wildcats locked up the No. 3 spot by beating Texas Tech.

No. 4-6 TBA: Now the fun stars. West Virginia and Iowa State are both 12-6. Baylor is 11-6. If Baylor wins:

 

Collective head-to-head is the first tiebreaker. In this case, Iowa State and Baylor are both 2-1 and WVU is 1-3. Next you have to break the tie between ISU and BU due to the collective head-to-head.

Guess what? Iowa State gets the No. 4 seed, thanks to its head-to-head win over Baylor.

Baylor should be No. 5, since it swept WVU in the regular season. That would make WVU No. 6.

If Baylor loses:

ISU and WVU split head-to-head. Next tiebreaker is each team’s winning percentage versus the team occupying the highest position in the final regular-season standings, and then continuing down through the standings until one team gains an advantage.

So … Oklahoma is No. 1. ISU beat OU and WVU did not. So in that case, ISU would be No. 4, WVU would be No. 5 and Baylor would be No. 6.

No. 7 Kansas (probably): If Baylor wins on Sunday, KU is No. 7. If Baylor loses, start with head-to-head and they’re tied. Next it’s each teams’ record against Oklahoma. KU split and Baylor lost its only meeting with OU, so in that situation Kansas should be No. 6 and Baylor No. 7.

No. 8 Oklahoma State: No matter what happens on Sunday, OSU will be No. 8.

No. 9 TCU: The Horned Frogs get the seed by sweeping BYU head-to-head.

No. 10 BYU: The Cougars get this seed thanks to the tiebreaker.

Nos. 11-13: Three teams were tied at 5-13 — Cincinnati, Houston and Texas Tech.

This one is super interesting:

Cincinnati: Lost to Houston, swept Texas Tech (2-1)

Houston: Beat Cincinnati, swept by Texas Tech (1-2)

Texas Tech: swept Houston, swept by Cincinnati (2-2)

I think this means that Cincinnati is No. 11, Texas Tech is No. 12 and Houston is No. 13, based on winning percentage.

No. 14 UCF: The Knights had the worst record in the Big 12 and get the last seed.

One thing we can be certain of? Cincinnati, Houston, Texas Tech and UCF will play in the first two games of the tournament on Thursday.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.

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