Oklahoma State (19-10, 7-9) most likely has earned a spot in the NCAA Basketball Tournamene with its exciting win over 10-time defending conference champion Kansas on Saturday. But the Cowboys, picked in the preseason by the Big 12 coaches as the co-favoirite to win the conference crown, cannot affortdto let their guard down when Kansas State comes calling to Gallagher-Iba Areana on Monday night.
Both teams have something to lose in this game, which should make for an exciting matcup. Kansas State knocked off the Cowboys in the Big 12 conference opener for both teams back in early January. The Wildcats (20-9, 10-6) have already all but locked up a spot in the NCAA Tournament three weeks from now, but a loss to Oklahoma State could hurt their seeding come Selection Sunday in two weeks. And as far as the Cowboys’ are concerned, they are far from a guaranteed spot in the NCAA Tournament this seaon and would like to hedge their bet with another win against a quality opponent.
As in every game Kansas State plays, the Wildcats would prefer to keep the score in the 60s, but as they showed on Saturday, they are capable of playing with high-scoring teams. Oklahoma State would like to avenge its conference-opening loss at Kansas State and, at the same time, pull within one game of breaking even in conference play.
The Cowboys have played well since the return of sophomore team leader Marcus Smart. Last season’s Big 12 Player of the Year scored 21 points in the Pokes’ 72-65 win over Kansas over the weekend.
My pick: Oklahoma State 71, Kansas State 65 - OSU has more to lose in this game than Kansas State does, and it is the last time the home fans will see the Cowboys in Stillwater this season.