Big 12 Review – Week 1

During the game at Minnesota, TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom ended up kicking with a video playing of a chipmunk at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (SB Nation)

During the game at Minnesota, TCU kicker Jaden Oberkrom ended up kicking with a video playing of a chipmunk at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (SB Nation)

Week One of the 2015 college football season is in the books.  TCU is still my favorite to win the conference.

“Baylor looked best, they scored 28 points in the first quarter,” one might say.

And to that, I counter they let up 14 and SMU is a rebuilding program.  Chad Morris is a nice guy and seems to be the guy to restore that program but let’s not get ahead of ourselves on where that Mustang program is.

I still think Baylor is severely over-hyped.

TCU started off shaky on the road, but they came around late and looked better as the game progressed.  Trevone Boykin still managed 246 passing yards in the Horned Frogs’ win Thursday.

Oklahoma State started shaky but came back to retake the lead and beat Central Michigan on the road.  The Pokes are now 5-0 all-time against the MAC and last week was their first MAC game since 1994.

Patrick Mahomes was IMPRESSIVE against a good Sam Houston State team.  SHSU had more wins in the last four years than any other Division 1 school in Texas entering the season.  However, Texas Tech’s defense was bad.  David Gibbs even went so far as to say “nobody played good.”

Baker Mayfield was impressive for Oklahoma, but the Sooners were just playing Akron.  Texas looked like most people expected against Notre Dame.  Iowa State won, Kansas almost won and Kansas State broke the internet.

I don’t know if it’s related, but Texas followed by doing something that I find to be one of the dumbest things in college football.

I marched for five years (four in high school and one in college) and I still have yet to figure out what sense this makes.

Especially when they’re an in-state “rival.”

Sorry, Tech.

As for this week, I’m curious to see what happens in the Big 12’s road tests in San Antonio and (more importantly) Knoxville.

 

Week 1 Results

Oklahoma State 24, Central Michigan 13

No. 2 TCU 23, Minnesota 17

No. 4 Baylor 56, SMU 21

South Dakota State 41, Kansas 38

Texas Tech 59, Sam Houston State 45

No. 19 Oklahoma 41, Akron 3

Kansas State 34, South Dakota 0

No. 11 Notre Dame 38, Texas 3

West Virginia 44, Georgia Southern 0

Iowa State 31, Northern Iowa 7

Kurt’s Korner Week 1 Record: 9-1

 

Week 2 Picks

Kansas State over UTSA

West Virginia over Liberty

Texas Tech over UTEP

No. 2 TCU over Stephen F. Austin

Iowa State over Iowa

No. 23 Tennessee over No. 19 Oklahoma

No. 4 Baylor over Lamar

Texas over Rice

Oklahoma State over Central Arkansas

Kansas over Memphis

2015 Big 12 football preview

TCU dominated the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in their New Year's Six bowl game against No. 9 Ole Miss after dropping from No. 3 to No. 6 in the CFP rankings following a 55-3 thumping of Iowa State to end the regular season. (Bleacher Report)

TCU dominated the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl in their New Year’s Six bowl game against No. 9 Ole Miss after dropping from No. 3 to No. 6 in the CFP rankings following a 55-3 thumping of Iowa State to end the regular season. (Bleacher Report)

What a great way for the Big 12 to start the College Football Playoff era, right?

The 2014 season was likely one Bob Bowlsby would soon like to forget.  Sure, the TCU-Baylor game was arguably the Game of Year – at least the regular season – however, that loss cost the Horned Frogs a trip into the playoff. A 14-point loss in West Virginia would cost the Bears theirs just a week later.

The funniest part – depending on how you might look at it – TCU was No. 3 in the CFP Top 25 entering their season finale against Iowa State which they won 55-3 at home. The next day, TCU had dropped.

Three spots.

I’m fairly young, but I can’t remember seeing a team who won by 52 drop in the rankings, especially three spots.  I doubt it will happen again.

Ever.

Throw in that Bob Stoops decided to send Oklahoma State to a bowl game and you’ve got a weird 2014 season.

But that’s why we love the mess that is college football.

Regardless, the conference has been under some heat because its two best teams were left out (No.’s 5 and 6 in the rankings). Many have presented it as the Big 12 being the only Power Five conference without a conference championship game.

Bowlsby, of course, is adamant that isn’t the case.

Welcome back the same 10 schools this season, no additions and not much changed.

Except no more co-champions.  I guess the slogan is true, now.

I will break down each team, in the order I predict the final conference standings will be come December with game-by-game picks.

1) No. 2 TCU – 2014: 12-1; 8-1 – Peach Bowl Champions
TCU brings back almost everybody including their biggest weapon, Trevone Boykin who is arguably the preseason Heisman favorite.  The Horned Frogs were one dreadful collapse from making the College Football Playoff.  With Baylor, Texas and West Virginia at home this year, there likely isn’t much that can stop the machine in Fort Worth.  However, either the Mountaineers or Baylor are capable of toppling TCU in Fort Worth and the Oklahoma schools have the best chance when TCU hits the road.  Possibly the scariest part of this team is the offense, which put up 82 points against Texas Tech last year.  If they blow out Minnesota on the road to start the season off, the rest of the conference could possibly be playing for second place.

  • at Minnesota – W
  • vs. Stephen F. Austin – W
  • vs. SMU – W
  • at Texas Tech – W
  • vs. Texas – W
  • at Kansas State – W
  • at Iowa State – W
  • vs. West Virginia – W
  • at Oklahoma State – W
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at Oklahoma – W
  • vs. Baylor – W

2) Oklahoma State – 2014: 7-6; 4-5 – Cactus Bowl Champions
The Cowboys were young in 2014 and losing J.W. Walsh to injury Week 2 definitely didn’t help cases.  Now responsible for grooming two Big Ten QBs – Wes Lunt (Illinois) and Daxx Garman (Maryland) – it appears to be young Mason Rudolph’s turn to lead the Pokes.  The offensive line has had time to mold and should be much better than a year ago.  The biggest question could be at running back, with the dismissal of Tyreek Hill who recently pleaded guilty to a domestic abuse charge.  The Cowboys seem to be best in odd-numbered years (2011 – conference champions; 2013 – one play from conference champions).  In a weak conference, mark Nov. 7 on your calendar.  The game against TCU could be the second sell-out in Boone Pickens Stadium history and the Big 12 Championship Game by default.  However, expect the Cowboys to drop a game at either Texas or West Virginia and don’t be surprised if they drop one either at Iowa State or at home to Baylor or Oklahoma.

  • at Central Michigan – W
  • vs. Central Arkansas – W
  • vs. UTSA – W
  • at Texas – W
  • vs. Kansas State – W
  • at West Virginia – L
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at Texas Tech – W
  • vs. TCU – L
  • at Iowa State – W
  • vs. Baylor – W
  • vs. Oklahoma – L

3) No. 4 Baylor – 2014: 11-2; 8-1 – Cotton Bowl
Ah, Baylor, seemingly the nation’s favorite Big 12 school.  Honestly, I was cheering for Texas Tech to pull off the upset last year in the BU-TT Bowl (which is a name I seriously think needs to catch on).  With Bryce Petty now playing for the New York Jets, I’m curious to see how the Baylor QB situation plays out.  Seth Russell gets the start on opening night, but that could change.  Shawn Oakman is supposed to be this enormous specimen, but a source who met Oakman at Big 12 Media Days said Oakman’s size is severely over-hyped.  Fittingly enough, so is Baylor.  I would not be surprised to see Baylor lose a game like Texas Tech this year.  Another possible L for the Bears is West Virginia.  The Big 12 is a weak conference and Baylor’s hype could become evidence of that.

  • at SMU – W
  • vs. Lamar – W
  • vs. Rice – W
  • vs. Texas Tech (in Arlington, Texas) – L
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. West Virginia – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas State – W
  • vs. Oklahoma – W
  • at Oklahoma State – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. Texas – W

4) No. 19 Oklahoma – 2014: 8-5; 5-4 – Russell Athletic Bowl
The Sooners were a let-down last year.  There’s no other way to say it.  Trevor Knight showed potential.  After the season, the Sooners hired former Texas Tech QB and East Carolina offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, to take over for Josh Heupel.  Riley’s play-calling suits the way Trevor Knight played in high school, which is why the Sooners went after Knight in the first place.  Now, instead, they’re going with Baker Mayfield.  I firmly expect Knight to take over as starter before the midpoint of the season.  I wouldn’t be surprised if OU were to lose Bedlam for consecutive years for the first time since 2001 and 2002.  The Red River Rivalry may even fall in the Longhorns’ favor, depending upon Mayfield/Knight and the Sooner running backs.  One thing I said that received mixed reactions in Stillwater, “I think Stoops may be reaching the end of his stay in Norman.”

  • vs. Akron – W
  • at Tennessee – L
  • vs. Tulsa – W
  • vs. West Virginia – L
  • vs. Texas (in Dallas, Texas) – W
  • at Kansas State – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Baylor – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • at Oklahoma State – W

5) West Virginia – 2014: 7-6; 5-4 – Liberty Bowl
West Virginia is, arguably, the most underrated team in the Big 12 entering the 2015 season.  The Mountaineers’ air-raid attack has improved each year under coach Dana Holgersen.  Last year, the Mountaineers made it back to a bowl game and lost a game which was…interesting, to say the least.  In 2014, West Virginia was great in late-game scenarios against both Baylor and Texas Tech, keeping the Bears at bay in Morgantown and making a come back to beat Tech in Lubbock.  Now, Skyler Howard has the full-time starting position after Clint Trickett’s retirement/graduation.  Howard’s performance in the Liberty Bowl, without much time for preparation, let alone first-team reps, was pretty impressive.  Any time the Mountaineers lose a big-time wide receiver another seems to pop out of the ground, which could help WVU be better than most expect in 2015.

  • vs. Georgia Southern – W
  • vs. Liberty – W
  • vs. Maryland – W
  • at Oklahoma – W
  • vs. Oklahoma State – W
  • at Baylor – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – L
  • vs. Texas – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas State – W

6) Kansas State – 2014: 9-4; 7-2 – Alamo Bowl
The Wildcats will be bowl eligible.  That’s just the Bill Snyder way.  They lost everybody except little Gronk.  According to the Wichita Eagle, though, the Wildcats have yet to announce a starting quarterback for Saturday’s opener against South Dakota.  It seems like, every year, it doesn’t matter what anyone says about K-State, they’re fine.  They’ll play everyone tough and even “shock” a few teams.  But, is it really a shock?  Bill Snyder is without a doubt one of the greatest college football coaches of all time.  Although, it does appear to be a rebuilding year in Manhattan.

  • vs. South Dakota – W
  • at UTSA – W
  • vs. Louisiana Tech – W
  • at Oklahoma State – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • vs. Oklahoma – W
  • at Texas – W
  • vs. Baylor – L
  • at Texas Tech – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • vs. West Virginia – L

7) Texas Tech – 2014: 4-8; 2-7
After my initial tweet a while back, I had to move the Raiders.  As much as I don’t want to say it, this is coach Kliff Kingsbury’s last shot at a good year or he will likely lose his job.  Kingsbury’s offenses are exhilarating, incredible and awesome to watch.  However, his defenses typically just flat suck.  Granted, they’ve gone through an average of one defensive coordinator per year for the last six years and just hired No. 7 in January.  Although, David Gibbs served as Houston’s interim head coach last year, which (hopefully) should help.  I’m hoping the defensive line improved dramatically, but a source tells me it’s still bad.  Actually, they said it looks like a 4A high school defensive line in Texas.  A trip to Fayetteville during Week 3 (on ESPN2, mind you) could lead us to say, “Hey, Tech ain’t too terrible,” or it could just be brutal (much like last year’s Arkansas game).  Six or seven wins isn’t an unreasonable expectation for the Red Raiders.  Eight?  No, especially because they play a team Week 1 with more wins in the last four years than any other Division 1 program in Texas.  Although, it’s an FCS game, it’s not a sure-fire win.  Sorry, Tech fans.

  • vs. Sam Houston State – W
  • vs. UTEP – W
  • at Arkansas – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • vs. Baylor (in Arlington, Texas) – W
  • vs. Iowa State – W
  • at Kansas – W
  • at Oklahoma – L
  • vs. Oklahoma State – L
  • at West Virginia – W
  • vs. Kansas State – L
  • at Texas – L

8) Texas – 2014: 6-7; 5-4 – Texas Bowl
This will likely be one of if not the worst Texas team in a very long time.  The Longhorns will be lucky to win six games.  I firmly expect them to go, at best, 5-7.  But, they’ll give Oklahoma a run for its money.  The Longhorns area a very unstable team and I don’t see that changing in 2015.  However, it isn’t fair to knock this against Charlie Strong.  This year should count only for him.  If Strong can get this team to be bowl eligible, then Texas will be a force to be reckoned with starting in 2016.

  • at Notre Dame – L
  • vs. Rice – W
  • vs. Cal – W
  • vs. Oklahoma State – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas, Texas) – L
  • vs. Kansas State – L
  • at Iowa State – W
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at West Virginia – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – W
  • at Baylor – L

9) Iowa State – 2014: 2-10; 0-9
Iowa State will not finish last in the Big 12.  Write it down, circle it, put a star by it, it will not happen.  Granted, it’s only (to me) because of the changing of the guard in Lawrence.  I don’t see the Cyclones being any better than last year.  I also don’t see them being any worse.  Paul Rhodes is still a good coach but it’s ridiculously hard to get recruits to go to Ames, Iowa.  I actually feel bad for him, because if he were at a program that could draw recruits, he’d have the record of a winning coach.  I’m curious about Iowa State’s quarterback situation, with Sam Richardson having 19 games as a starter.  If Richardson improved, the Cyclones are going to scare some people.

  • vs. Northern Iowa – L
  • vs. Iowa – W
  • at Toledo – W
  • vs. Kansas – W
  • at Texas Tech – L
  • vs. TCU – L
  • at Baylor – L
  • vs. Texas – L
  • at Oklahoma – L
  • vs. Oklahoma State – L
  • at Kansas State – L
  • at West Virginia – L

10) Kansas – 2014: 3-9; 1-8
I know they have a new coach, but Kansas will likely look bad this year.  If anyone knows how I can make the money that Charlie Weis is rumored to be making from Kansas, let me know, because I’d love to pay off my loans.  Clint Bowen stays on the staff as the defensive coordinator, after almost beating Oklahoma State as the interim head coach in 2014.  David Beaty is the new man in charge, but don’t look for changes yet.  Although, he’s made a splash in recruiting already, those benefits won’t be seen until at least 2016.  It’s going to be rough for anyone sporting the Jayhawk on their apparel.  On a side note, whose idea was it to schedule Oklahoma for the homecoming game?  Not a good one, there.

  • vs. South Dakota State – L
  • vs. Memphis – W
  • at Rutgers – L
  • at Iowa State – L
  • vs. Baylor – L
  • vs. Texas Tech – L
  • at Oklahoma State – L
  • vs. Oklahoma – L
  • at Texas – L
  • at TCU – L
  • vs. West Virginia – L
  • vs. Kansas State – L

College football is a beautiful creature.  And it’s finally back.

Lots of work to be done in San Antonio

The “Race for Seis” ended Saturday night at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, at least for 2015.  Unfortunately I didn’t get to watch it, as I was attending Game 2 on the 2015 Bedlam Baseball Series at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in downtown OKC.  Oklahoma State clinched it’s fifth straight series win, beating the Sooners 8-1.

Bright side.

On the last night of the season, the Spurs could have clinched the No. 2 seed and a first round date with Dallas for the second consecutive year.  I, and most other die-hards, knew Pop would rest the “Fantastic Four” for at least most of the second half.

The Spurs lost to New Orleans and wound up in the worst possible position entering the night – 6th.  Paired up with the second most explosive offense in the West – the LA Clippers.

The first five or six games of the series went about as expected.  Then, Game 7.  Keep in mind, I didn’t get to watch the game live, but I saw highlights from Bleacher Report.

Game 1: San Antonio 92 @ LA Clippers 107
Game 2: San Antonio 111 @ LA Clippers 107/OT
Game 3: LA Clippers 73 @ San Antonio 100
Game 4: LA Clippers 114 @ San Antonio 105
Game 5: San Antonio 111 @ LA Clippers 107
Game 6: LA Clippers 102 @ San Antonio 96
Game 7: San Antonio 109 @ LA Clippers 111

The most frustrating part of the whole series is that San Antonio didn’t come out of the gate well in six of the games.  The winning team eclipsed the century mark in each game and offense was very inconsistent from various Spurs.  Being able to play poorly and still only come two points from advancing shows how good the Spurs really are.  The troubles lie off the floor, however.

Contract Issues

The Spurs have only five players under contract for the 2015-16 season, according to basketball-reference.com:

  • Tiago Splitter ($8.5M)
  • Tony Parker ($13.4M)
  • Patty Mills ($3.6M)
  • Boris Diaw ($7M)
  • Kyle Anderson ($1.1M; Rookie Contract)

Kawhi Leonard is no longer a potential star in the league – he is one.  Four years removed from the draft night which left many fans scratching their heads wondering what a Kawhi is, the wing has made two NBA Finals appearances winning Finals MVP in 2014.  Still, no All-Star Game appearances thanks to the small market that is San Antonio and the lack of appeal to the nation in fundamental basketball.

Leonard said two things in regard to his contract making me wonder if he knows where he’s playing.  He said he wants a max deal, which the Tim Duncan-esque weapon clearly deserves, but he also said he wants to play his whole career in San Antonio.  Um, one problem.

The Spurs don’t give max deals.  Case and point, 2005, when Manu Ginobili was the hottest free agent on the market.

Leonard and Duncan are eerily similar – calm, productive, emotionless, incredibly skilled and make everyone around them better.  With the massive rise in salary cap, not signing Leonard after winning a ring may come back to bite R.C. Buford in the rear.

Peter Holt by no means has the deepest pockets in the league, but he forked up over $50 million for Tony Parker, $36 million for Tiago Splitter and let’s not forget the massive contract Ginobili had which ended following the 2013 NBA Finals loss.

Tim Duncan could in theory retire, and I’ve seen posts on Twitter from many Thunder, Mavericks and let’s face it, fans of any team.  Duncan doesn’t seem to age.  Reggie Miller pointed out during the Clippers series that Duncan can’t walk right because his knee is so messed up, but Duncan is playing as well as he ever has.

But, nobody knows how many years Duncan has left.  Would I be surprised to see him sign small, short-term deals to stay in basketball but leave plenty of space?  I’m not really sure.

I don’t anticipate Duncan demanding he get Lebron James money, because that’s not Tim.  However, the sure-fire first-ballot Hall-of-Famer is more than deserving of it.

Manu Ginobili is capable of being inducted in the Hall of Fame, but it won’t be on the first ballot.  Ginobili could do the same as Duncan – retire or sign a small deal to keep him around.

Matt Bonner, Aron Baynes, Danny Green are all free agents.  With a productive last couple years, Baynes could be an under-the-radar commodity.

Keep all of those names in mind and add one.  A big one.

LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Portland All-Star post has been quoted as saying San Antonio is at or near the top of his destination wishlist.  Gee, he’s not ring-chasing, is he?

With San Antonio going after him hard, the Spurs are trying to beat the Knicks, Bulls and Lakers in a way they traditionally haven’t – free agency.

Many of the 30 teams will be vying for the honor to pay Aldridge a ridiculous amount of money in hopes that he will be the rim protector they all have been hoping for.  The Spurs also have the 26th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, per SB Nation.

Frank Kaminsky from Wisconsin could potentially be on the board at that point.  When that was pointed out to me, I forgot a key.  Aron Baynes is a free agent.

It isn’t like the Spurs to draft domestic talent, let alone keep it for Opening Night.  That’s why many were surprised when Anderson made the Opening Night roster, regardless that he was arguably the best passer in the Pac 12 in his final year at UCLA.

But, Buford is catching up in the game.  It seems that the 2013 Finals loss is sitting worse with him than anyone in the organization not named Popovich, Duncan or, deservedly, Ginobili.

The loss in 2015 is conflicting, because the team looked like crap at times, but against key opponents had good records:

  • Dallas – 2-2
  • Houston – 3-1
  • New Orleans – 1-3
  • Memphis – 2-2
  • Oklahoma City – 2-1
  • Golden State – 2-1
  • Cleveland – 1-1

The key to decide who all the Spurs go after in this year’s incredible free agent class and fairly average draft, is Aron Baynes.

And that may be the biggest surprise of the whole thing.

Big 12 Basketball Review – Weekend 1

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger became the first coach to lead four schools to the Sweet Sixteen after the Sooners beat Dayton 72-66 on Sunday. (Tulsa World)

Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger became the first coach to lead four schools to the Sweet Sixteen after the Sooners beat Dayton 72-66 on Sunday. (Tulsa World)

Seven Big 12 teams were selected for the NCAA Tournament and in the first weekend, five were eliminated.

Many, myself included, took the Big 12’s depth for granted and selected XII teams to make runs that in hind sight were not likely.  Ever.

For instance, the first game on Thursday put Big 12 Champion Iowa State against Conference USA champion UAB in Louisville, Kentucky.  Jerod Haase’s Blazers came out hot against a good Iowa State team who had beat Kansas in a thriller just days before.  I had Iowa State in the Elite Eight against Duke.  UAB had other plans.

The Blazers knocked off the Cyclones 60-59, which would coincidentally be the final score for the next game in the same arena, SMU vs. UCLA.

The second game was down in Jacksonville, Florida, and featured an explosive Sun Belt team in Georgia State against the XII’s Baylor Bears.  A 3-vs.-14 game, as was Iowa State vs. UAB.  The Bears were hot at times but Georgia State was able to make the last run.  RJ Hunter hit a beautiful three at the end to give GSU the lead and eventually the win.  Two tries, both as the 2-seed and the Big 12 is sitting at 0-2 in the tournament just two games in to the Second Round.

I can’t be the only one who expected Texas to beat Butler, but nonetheless Butler’s depth affected the Longhorns and the XII is 0-3 after the first day.  Four games on Friday gave the Big 12 opportunities for wins, three of which came true.

Second-seeded Kansas beat New Mexico State, West Virginia edged Buffalo in a game which many predicted to one of the typical 5-vs.-12 upsets, Oklahoma survived Albany and then Oregon beat Oklahoma State.  Kansas was upset by 7-seed Wichita State, an in-state “rival” who Kansas has zero interest in scheduling, in Omaha on Sunday.  Otherwise, West Virginia is headed to Cleveland to face Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen and Oklahoma is headed to Syracuse, New York, to face their own 7-seed, Michigan State.

Michigan State beat Virginia in a game that essentially came down to Tom Izzo vs. Tony Bennett.  Of course, Izzo won.  Izzo is a shoo-in first ballot Hall of Famer.  However, the same will not likely ring true on Friday.  The inside-out attack that Oklahoma has with Ryan Spangler (as long as he isn’t missing easy layups) and Big 12 Player of the Year Buddy Hield, the Sooners have the upper hand.  I picked them originally to go to the Elite Eight, and I’m sticking with the Sooners on Friday against MSU.

West Virginia coach Bob Huggins made a good point Sunday night following the Mountaineers’ win over Maryland in Columbus.  The previous two times that West Virginia won a tournament game, they ended up playing Kentucky down the line.  In 2010 the Mountaineers beat the Wildcats in the Elite Eight for their second ever Final Four appearance and a year later the Wildcats got revenge in the Second Round (now called the Third Round because the NCAA has to be difficult).

This year isn’t like 2010.  Or 2011.  In fact, in my lifetime I have yet to see a team as deep, skilled and cohesive as this year’s Kentucky roster.  One could argue that Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles are the three best big men in the nation, especially after Frank Kaminsky and Jahlil Okafor left to be desired in their first two NCAA Tournament games this year (at least I felt they left to be desired).

West Virginia lacks the size to compete with these three, listed at 7′, 6-11 and 6-10 respectively.  West Virginia’s press helps them compete against a lot of teams.  It won’t Thursday.

Sweet Sixteen/Elite Eight Picks

Midwest Region – Cleveland, Ohio – Thursday and Saturday
No. 3 Notre Dame over No. 7 Wichita State – 6:15 p.m. C.T. on CBS
No. 1 Kentucky over No. 5 West Virginia – 30 minutes later
No. 1 Kentucky over No. 3 Notre Dame

West Region – Los Angeles, California – Thursday and Saturday
No. 1 Wisconsin over No. 4 North Carolina – 6:47 p.m. C.T. on TBS
No. 2 Arizona over No. 6 Xavier – 30 minutes later
No. 1 Wisconsin over No. 2 Arizona (OT)

East Region – Syracuse, New York – Friday and Sunday
No. 4 Louisville over No. 8 N.C. State – 6:37 p.m. C.T. on TBS
No. 3 Oklahoma over No. 7 Michigan State – 30 minutes later
No. 4 Louisville over No. 3 Oklahoma

South Region – Houston, Texas – Friday and Sunday
No. 11 UCLA over No. 2 Gonzaga – 6:15 p.m. C.T. on CBS
No. 1 Duke over No. 5 Utah – 30 minutes later
No. 1 Duke over No. 11 UCLA

NCAA Tournament Preview

Kentucky is clearly the nation’s best, deepest team.  However, the Big 12 got seven teams into the dance.

Oklahoma (3), Iowa State (3), Baylor (3), Oklahoma State (9), Kansas (2), Texas (11) and West Virginia (5) are in the field of 68.  The Sooners are the lone XII team in the East Region, featuring No. 1 seed Villanova and played in Syracuse, matched up with Albany in the round of 64 on Friday in Columbus, Ohio.  Albany reached the tourney on a miraculous 3 in the America East title game by Peter Hooley against Stony Brook.

Continuing through the XII, Iowa State is the conference’s lone team in the South Region with Duke atop, played in Houston.  The Cyclones will face UAB in the “second” round in Louisville on Thursday.  The Cyclones have a favorable draw and the capability to make a deep run into the tournament.

The West Region features Wisconsin sitting atop and will be played in Los Angeles.  Oklahoma State will face 8-seed Oregon on Friday in Omaha in the second round.  The Pokes aren’t likely to make a run, it’s a Travis Ford team in the postseason.  On the bottom half is Baylor who will face Georgia State.  The Bears are a talented team, but not anything special.

Three Big 12 teams will play in the Midwest Region which features the top overall seed, Kentucky, and is set for Cleveland.  Kansas sits as the No. 2 seed and gets a red-hot New Mexico State team in the second round in Omaha on Friday.  Texas is the 11-seed and got paired with a solid Butler team.  West Virginia sits at No. 5, arguably the most dangerous seed, to play a Buffalo team making their NCAA Tournament debut.  The Mountaineers are among the nation’s most dictating teams and can beat a lot of the teams in the tournament.  Unfortunately WVU gets Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen.

Below I have broken down the tournament with anything you may want to know.

First Four Picks
No. 16 Manhattan over No. 16 Hampton – Tues. – Winner plays Kentucky
No. 11 BYU over No. 11 Ole Miss – Tues. – Winner plays Xavier
No. 16 North Florida over No. 16 Robert Morris – Wed. – Winner plays Duke
No. 11 Boise State over No. 11 Dayton – Wed. – Winner plays Providence

Round of 64 Upset Picks

East Region:
No. 9 LSU over No. 8 NC State
No. 11 Boise State/Dayton over No. 6 Providence

South Region:
No. 11 UCLA over No. 6 SMU

West Region:
No. 10 Ohio State over No. 7 VCU

Midwest Region:
No. 11 Texas over No. 6 Butler
No. 9 Purdue over No. 8 Cincinnati

Advancing to the Round of 32
Midwest Region
No. 1 Kentucky vs. No. 9 Purdue
No. 5 West Virginia vs. No. 4 Maryland
No. 11 Texas vs. No. 3 Notre Dame
No. 7 Wichita State vs. No. 2 Kansas

West Region
No. 1 Wisconsin vs. No. 8 Oregon
No. 5 Arkansas vs. No. 4 North Carolina
No. 6 Xavier vs. No. 3 Baylor
No. 10 Ohio State vs. No. 2 Arizona

East Region
No. 1 Villanova vs. No. 9 LSU
No. 5 Northern Iowa vs. No. 4 Louisville
No. 11 Boise State-Dayton winner vs. No. 3 Oklahoma
No. 7 Michigan State vs. No. 2 Virginia

South Region
No. 1 Duke vs. No. 8 San Diego State
No. 5 Utah vs. No. 4 Georgetown
No. 11 UCLA vs. No. 3 Iowa State
No. 10 Davidson vs. No. 2 Gonzaga

Sweet Sixteen
Midwest Region
No. 1 Kentucky over No. 5 West Virginia
No. 3 Notre Dame over No. 7 Wichita State

West Region
No. 1 Wisconsin over No. 4 North Carolina
No. 2 Arizona over No. 3 Baylor

East Region
No. 4 Louisville over No. 1 Villanova
No. 3 Oklahoma over No. 2 Virginia

South Region
No. 1 Duke over No. 5 Utah
No. 3 Iowa State over No. 10 Davidson

Final Four & National Championship Picks

Kentucky over Wisconsin
Duke over Louisville

Kentucky over Duke

The tournament is set up beautifully for competitive games, although, in the end a lot of the higher seeds have shown great resiliency over the year.

Hopefully it delivers.

Big 12 Basketball Review – Week 17

Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield made a tip-in with 0.2 seconds against No. 9 Kansas on Senior Day. The Sooners are the No. 3 seed in next week’s Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship in Kansas City. (Washington Post)

I know I normally don’t post until Monday, however with the seeds being set for the Big 12 Championships in Kansas City, I felt it would be good to post tonight.

Speaking of tournament seeding: Texas, Kansas State, TCU and Texas Tech (in order from 7-10) will all have to play on Wednesday in the first round.  The rest of the bracket (in order) looks as follows:

4) Baylor vs. 5) West Virginia
1) Kansas vs. 8) Kansas State/9) TCU
2) Iowa State vs. 7) Texas/10) Texas Tech
3) Oklahoma vs. 6) Oklahoma State

We’ve seen that all of these teams are at any time, capable of beating any of the others.  Trent Johnson said of OSU, 6th in the Big 12, that he didn’t know what Joe Lunardi was talking about on Wednesday after the Cowboys beat the Horned Frogs in Stillwater.

The Longhorns were bitten by the injury bug but seem to be finding their rhythm with wins against Baylor and Kansas State this week.  Kansas is an average team when away from Allen Fieldhouse.  Before I give my picks for this week’s Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, let’s look at whether I was close to right at the beginning of the season at the final standings:

Rank) Team (Prediction) – Prediction for Big 12 Tournament
1) Kansas (Kansas) – L to WVU in Semifinals
2) Iowa State (Texas) – L to Oklahoma in Semifinals
3) Oklahoma (Iowa State) – Conference Tournament Champions
4) Baylor (Kansas State) – L to WVU in Quarterfinals
5) West Virginia (Oklahoma) – L to Oklahoma in Finals
6) Oklahoma State (Baylor) – L to Oklahoma in Quarterfinals
7) Texas (West Virginia) – L to Iowa State in Quarterfinals
8) Kansas State (Oklahoma State) – L to TCU in First Round
9) TCU (Texas Tech) – L to Kansas in Quarterfinals
10) Texas Tech (TCU) – L to Texas in First Round

 

Week 17 Results:

Monday:
No. 17 Iowa State 77, No. 15 Oklahoma 70
Texas 61, No. 14 Baylor 59 – OT

Tuesday:
No. 9 Kansas 76, No. 20 West Virginia 69 – OT

Wednesday:
Oklahoma State 82, TCU 70

Friday:
No. 14 Baylor 77, Texas Tech 74

Saturday:
No. 20 West Virginia 81, Oklahoma State 72
Texas 62, Kansas State 49
No. 15 Oklahoma 75, No. 9 Kansas 73
No. 17 Iowa State 89, TCU 76

Kurt’s Korner Week 17 Record: 6-3
Kurt’s Korner 2014-15 Record: 140-50

Big 12 Basketball Review – Week 16

Norense Odiase (left) and Toddrick Gotcher (center) of Texas Tech celebrate the Red Raiders' 63-62 win over Oklahoma State at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock.  The win is TTU's second straight over the Pokes in Lubbock. (Tulsa World)

Norense Odiase (left) and Toddrick Gotcher (center) of Texas Tech celebrate the Red Raiders’ 63-62 win over Oklahoma State at United Supermarkets Arena in Lubbock. The win is TTU’s second straight over the Pokes in Lubbock. (Tulsa World)

It looks as if the best that the Big 12 is going to do in the postseason is six teams into the NCAA, two into the NIT and one possibly to the CIT.

After Oklahoma State lost to Texas Tech on Saturday in Lubbock, the Cowboys essentially knocked themselves out of the NCAA Tournament.  Kansas State still has a shot at getting out of the bubble and into the field, due to the Big 12’s depth and the Wildcats’ favorable resume which includes wins over Texas A&M and Kansas.  After Saturday the Big 12 Tournament would look like:

Kansas State and Texas Tech each have just one game left, and they both head to Central Texas for those (Texas and Baylor respectively).  Kansas State and Texas each need to win if they want to make it out of the bubble and into the NCAA tournament, but each may need a solid run through next week’s Big 12 Tournament as well.

Oklahoma State needs to make a run next week and get wins over both TCU and West Virginia this week in order to make the dance.  Unfortunately, the Horned Frogs already showed they are more than capable of matching up against the Cowboys.  Playing on Senior Night in Stillwater will give OSU a slight edge, but not much to account for much, especially considering that Oklahoma State is playing their worst basketball of the season.  I’m taking TCU for the sweep, giving the Pokes arguable the weirdest tourney resume in the nation.

 

Week 16 Results

Monday:
Kansas State 70, No. 8 Kansas 63

Tuesday:
No. 20 West Virginia 71, Texas 64

Wednesday:
TCU 71, Texas Tech 54
No. 19 Baylor 79, No. 12 Iowa State 70

Saturday:
No. 16 Oklahoma 67, TCU 60
No. 19 Baylor 78, No. 20 West Virginia 66
Texas Tech 63, Oklahoma State 62
Kansas State 70, No. 12 Iowa State 69
No. 8 Kansas 69, Texas 64

Kurt’s Korner Week 16 Record: 5-4
Kurt’s Korner 2014-15 Record: 134-47

 

Week 17 Picks & Schedule

Monday:
No. 15 Oklahoma over No. 17 Iowa State
No. 14 Baylor over Texas

Tuesday:
No. 9 Kansas over No. 20 West Virginia

Wednesday:
TCU over Oklahoma State

Friday:
No. 14 Baylor over Texas Tech

Saturday:
Texas over Kansas State
No. 15 Oklahoma over No. 9 Kansas
No. 20 West Virginia over Oklahoma State
No. 17 Iowa State over TCU