It’s time to finally settle things in the Big 12 men’s basketball standings. The problem is, with as many as seven out of 10 teams, all with 20 or more wins on the season, likely to receive bids to the NCAA Tournament, there is a big bunch up in the middle of the conference race. And, to be perfectly honest, that is what has made this season in Big 12 basketball one for the ages.
With but one game left in the Big 12 regular season, the top and bottom of the league standings are set in cement, but most everything in between is still very much in flux and dependent on the outcome of this weekend’s regular-season finales.
If the season had ended on Wednesday, Kansas and Oklahoma would play the winners of the two play-in games as the NO. 1 and No. 2 seeds for next week’s Big 12 Championship Tournament. In the quarterfinal round, Kansas would play the winner of the Texas Tech-West Virginia game between the No. 8 and 9 seeds, and Oklahoma would draw the winner of the matchup between Oklahoma State and TCU.
So if everything were to hold as it stands going into the final weekend of the regular season, we could be looking at a probable quarterfinal lineup of games that would include No. 1 Kansas facing No. 8 West Virginia, No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Kansas State, No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State in Bedlam Part III this season and No. 3 Texas going up against No. 6 Baylor.
Only, the way things have gone all season in the Big 12, things aren’t likely to stay the same as they are now after Saturday’s games. The final weekend of the Big 12 regular season includes No. 6 Baylor being hosted by No. 5 Kansas State, and another key matchup is set to take place in Ames, Iowa, where No. 7 Oklahoma State visits No. 4 Iowa State.
If Oklahoma State were to somehow get out of Hilton coliseum with a victory, though, and Baylor becomes the ninth straight Big 12 team to lose this season at Kansas State, Baylor and OSU would switch places in the final league seedings, and the Cowboys would receive the first-round bye instead of Baylor. The Bears would then have to play on the first day of the conference tournament facing TCU.
Depending 0n the outcome of second-place Oklahoma’s game at TCU (9-20, 0-17) as well as third-place Texas (22-8, 11-6) at Texas Tech, it is possible for Iowa State or Kansas State to finish as high as second place in the conference standings when the dust finally settles on Saturday and the curtain comes down on the regular season
Here are the possible outcomes should either Oklahoma or Texas lose over the weekend:
- Were OU to lose to TCU and Texas defeats Texas Tech, the Longhorns would grab the second seed for the Big 12 postseason tournament and the Sooners could drop to third or, conceivably, all the way to the No. 5 seed
- A Texas loss and an Oklahoma win would clinch second place for the Sooners and drop the Longhorns to somewhere between third and fifth place depending on how Iowa State and Kansas State do in their home finales on Saturday.
- If Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State and Kansas State all fulfill their favorite roles over the weekend, everything would remain as it is now.
So at least four of the five Big 12 games scheduled on Saturday could have a substantial impact on the final Big 12 standings and the seedings for next week’s Big 12 Tournament. That’s the way it has gone all season in the Big 12, only this weekend all things become final. Or as final as things can be at this exciting stage of the college basketball season.
Here are my picks on the final weekend of the regular season in Big 12 basketball, and my projection for the final conference standings and Big 12 Tournament seedings:
Baylor 65 @ Kansas State 78 - Visiting teams have fared very poorly at Bramlage Coliseum this season, and Baylor should become victim No. 16 on the season. The emotional level will be high because of Senior Day in an already loud arena, one of the hardest places to play in the country.
Oklahoma State 77 @ Iowa State 82 – This should be a very close game, but like Kansas State, it is a rare day indeed when the Cyclones lose at home, and especially in a game in which the they possibly have more to lose than the visiting seventh-place Cowboys.
Oklahoma 74 @ TCU 66 – Oklahoma lost at TCU in its final regular-season game last season. A similar fate this season would be even more disappointing and a potentially cost the Sooners a drop of three places in the final conference standings.
Texas 78 @ Texas Tech 68 – The Red Raiders will be looking to redeem themselves after Wednesday’s terrible loss at Kansas, but Texas has something to play for in this game and there shouldn’t be any letdown on the Longhorns’ part, which is not particularly good news for the hometown team.
Kansas 84 @ West Virginia 79 – The Jayhawks could easily lose this game, especially if West Virginia were to play as well as they did earlier on the road at Kansas. Bottom line, though, is I believe that Kansas’ talent and depth is too good for the Mountaineers, even without seven-foot Jayhawk center Joel Embiid.
Projected Final Big 12 Men’s Basketball 2013-14 Final Standings/Seedings
(Final season, conference records in parentheses)
- Kansas Jayhawks (23-7, 15-3)
- Oklahoma Sooners (23-8, 12-6)
- Texas Longhorns (23-8, 12-6)
- Iowa State Cyclones (23-7, 11-7)
- Kansas State Wildcats (21-10, 11-7)
- Baylor Bears (20-11, 8-10)
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-11, 8-10)
- West Virginia Mountaineers (16-15, 8-10)
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (13-18, 5-13)
- TCU Horned Frogs (9-21, 0-18)
Projected NCAA Tournament Teams From the Big 12
Iowa State Cyclones
Kansas State Wildcats
Oklahoma State Cowboys*
*Only teams in Big 12 history to receive an NCAA Tournament bid with a conference record below .500.