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

Big 12 Basketball Review – Week 15

In a thrilling game on Monday, Kansas fans took to Twitter to express displeasure in Juwan Staten’s game-winning layup to beat the Jayhawks in Morgantown.  This was not the only travel that went uncalled, and having seen Kansas in person twice in the last two years, the Jayhawks have gotten away with a few.  That’s just part of the men’s game though.  Nevermind that had Perry Ellis handled the most perfect pass I’ve seen in a college game this season better, Kansas would have won this game.

As we near the end of the regular season we have learned plenty about the conference.  To break it down, let’s look at the current standings.

1) Kansas – 11-3
The Jayhawks have a clear advantage at home, however all of their struggles are exploited when KU leaves Allen Fieldhouse.  Even so, the only three conference losses are at Iowa State, at Oklahoma State and at West Virginia.  Hilton, Gallagher-Iba and WVU Coliseum are the most difficult places to play for Kansas (mainly because Allen is their own home court).

2) Iowa State – 10-4
The Cyclones played a tough game at Oklahoma State last week and were able to pull it out.  Iowa State (with a few exceptions, namely at Texas Tech) has been able to do that most of the year.  The Cyclones seem to be a second-half surge team, like against Kansas, Oklahoma State and West Virginia.  It’s not necessarily that they dig themselves a hole, just that teams typically start off hot against them.

3) Oklahoma – 10-5
The Sooners are one of the better shooting teams in the Big 12.  While the Sooners live off of their perimeter offense, they also can adapt when the shots aren’t falling and start driving to the rim or dishing it to Ryan Spangler in the post.

4) West Virginia – 9-5
West Virginia has been very quiet.  The Mountaineers aren’t exciting to watch because they typically like to take teams out of rhythm.  On defense they constantly pressure and it forces their opponents to force opportunities in order to avoid the free throw line.

5) Baylor – 8-6
The Bears are one of the two streaky teams in the Big 12.  Baylor has shown signs of struggle, such as defending the perimeter.  But their versatile offense combined with the amoebic 2-3/3-2 zone really cause fits for the rest of the conference.

6) Oklahoma State – 7-8
The Cowboys aren’t streaky, just one-dimensional.  The Pokes can’t rebound and they live or die off of the 3.  Lately, that’s killed them.  Oklahoma State also has a bad habit of playing defense out of position, leading to foul trouble.

7) Texas – 6-8
Texas turned out to be immature this season.  Until the Longhorns grow up, they are going to be inconsistent at best.  One thing the Horns can do is run the floor with anybody.  Texas has arguably the best transition game in the Big 12, but are inconsistent in a half-court set.

8) Kansas State – 6-9
The other streaky Big 12 team.  Kansas State has the potential to be dangerous.  A lack of maturity on their roster and still being in the transitional phase between coaches helps understand their inconsistency.  Next year, look for K-State to be near the top half of the conference.

9) TCU – 3-11
The Horned Frogs are much improved from a year ago.  Three wins including Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Kansas State in Big 12 play and they played Kansas tough both times they met.  TCU could still make the tournament with a strong performance in their final four games and a solid run in the Big 12 Tournament in two weeks.

10) Texas Tech – 2-13
The Red Raiders are the conference’s lone truly bad team.  Texas Tech has pulled out two wins, but they look young.  Norense Odiase shows the potential of being an all-conference post, but is only a true freshman.  Give Tubby Smith some time and a couple of more recruits and the Raiders will be good to go.  But this year, not so much.

The Big 12 Championships start March 11 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.  Until then, teams have either three or four games remaining.  Expect Kansas to win their 11th straight Big 12 Championship, Iowa State to finish 2nd and Texas Tech to bring up the rear.  Time will only tell how 3-9 turn out.

 

Week 15 Results:

Monday:
No. 23 West Virginia 62, No. 8 Kansas 61

Tuesday:
No. 20 Baylor 54, Texas Tech 49
No. 17 Oklahoma 71, Texas 69

Wednesday:
TCU 69, Kansas State 55
No. 14 Iowa State 70, No. 22 Oklahoma State 65

Saturday:
No. 17 Oklahoma 79, Texas Tech 75 – OT
No. 20 Baylor 69, Kansas State 42
No. 14 Iowa State 85, Texas 77
No. 23 West Virginia 73, No. 22 Oklahoma State 63
No. 8 Kansas 81, TCU 72

Kurt’s Korner Week 15 Record: 7-3
Kurt’s Korner 2014-15 Record: 129-43

 

Week 16 Schedule and Picks:

Monday:
No. 8 Kansas over Kansas State

Tuesday:
No. 20 West Virginia over Texas

Wednesday:
TCU over Texas Tech
No. 19 Baylor over No. 12 Iowa State

Saturday:
No. 16 Oklahoma over TCU
No. 20 West Virginia over No. 19 Baylor
Oklahoma State over Texas Tech
No. 12 Iowa State over Kansas State
No. 8 Kansas over Texas

Big 12 Basketball Review – Week 14

Rico Gathers has helped Baylor stay alive in the Big 12 with a 6-6 record.  The Bears have an interesting schedule, with two games against Texas Tech and a trip to Austin among their six remaining games. (Rant Sports)

Rico Gathers has helped Baylor stay alive in the Big 12 with a 6-6 record. The Bears have an interesting schedule, with two games against Texas Tech and a trip to Austin among their six remaining games. (Rant Sports)

TCU notched their second conference win last week, Oklahoma State showed just how inconsistent they really are and Kansas proved that even through their struggles, the Big 12 crown goes through Lawrence.

First, looking at the conference standings with only a handful of games left, the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City looks interesting:

No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State
No. 8 Kansas State/No. 9 TCU vs. No. 1 Kansas
No. 7 Texas/No. 10 Texas Tech vs. No. 2 Iowa State
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Baylor

Oklahoma and Baylor would be an interesting matchup, with each having very different strengths.  Baylor is a little more skilled on defense, however Oklahoma has an exceptional perimeter game on both sides of the court.  Rico Gathers of Baylor and the Sooners’ Ryan Spangler would be a 1-on-1 matchup that I’d pay to see.

West Virginia and Oklahoma State play for the first time this year on Saturday in Stillwater.  With Oklahoma State having problems with consistency on defense and living or dying by the 3 on offense, this game is truly a toss-up.  If OSU is hitting shots then the Pokes should win.  However, if the Mountaineers are matching the Cowboys shot-for-shot or stopping the O-State perimeter attack, I don’t think it will be close.

Texas Tech is the lone truly bad team in the nation’s deepest conference.  I have a feeling that they’re a one-and-done in Kansas City.  Kansas State has found their rhythm lately and may be able to climb their way back in to the NCAA Tournament.  Maybe.

Overall, the Big 12 proves each week that without any guarantees, it is the nation’s toughest conference.

Week 14 Results:

Monday:
No. 21 Oklahoma State 74, No. 16 Baylor 65
No. 17 Oklahoma 94, No. 14 Iowa State 83

Tuesday:
No. 8 Kansas 73, Texas Tech 51

Wednesday:
No. 21 West Virginia 76, Kansas State 72
Texas 66, TCU 43

Saturday:
No. 8 Kansas 74, No. 16 Baylor 64
No. 14 Iowa State 79, No. 21 West Virginia 59
TCU 70, No. 21 Oklahoma State 55
Kansas State 59, No. 17 Oklahoma 56
Texas 56, Texas Tech 41

Kurt’s Korner Week 14 Record: 5-5
Kurt’s Korner 2014-15 Record: 122-40

Week 15 Schedule & Picks:

Monday:
No. 8 Kansas over No. 23 West Virginia

Tuesday:
No. 20 Baylor over Texas Tech
No. 17 Oklahoma over Texas

Wednesday:
Kansas State over TCU
No. 14 Iowa State over No. 22 Oklahoma State

Saturday:
No. 17 Oklahoma over Texas Tech
Kansas State over No. 20 Baylor
No. 14 Iowa State over Texas
No. 23 West Virginia over No. 22 Oklahoma State
No. 8 Kansas over TCU

Big 12 Basketball Review – Week 13

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Bill Self is 3-5 against Oklahoma State in Stillwater since arriving at Kansas following the Cowboys’ 67-62 win on Saturday.  The Pokes have stormed the court on Kansas twice in the last year now.  Oklahoma State has played very well lately, is tied in this week’s AP poll for No. 21 with West Virginia and if they can keep this play up, they should be able to creep in to the NCAA Tournament next month.  However, with Travis Ford’s NCAA Tournament experience and the lack of depth compared to other teams in the country the Cowboys are unlikely to make a run.

The Big 12 is proving to be the country’s most competitive conference day-in and day-out with the constant upsets.  In addition to OSU’s win over No. 8 Kansas, we have Texas Tech defeat Iowa State (prior to being demolished in Ames in the second meeting), Baylor blew out Texas, Kansas State has been up-and-down this year and West Virginia has been flying under the radar for a good part of this year.

There is still almost a month left before the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City.  In fact if the tournament started today the pairings would be:
No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 5 West Virginia
No. 8 Texas/No. 9 Texas Tech vs. No. 1 Kansas
No. 7 Kansas State/No. 10 TCU vs. No. 2 Iowa State
No. 3 Oklahoma vs. No. 6 Oklahoma State

Week 13 Results:

Monday:
No. 8 Kansas 89, No. 11 Iowa State 76

Tuesday:
No. 21 Oklahoma 71, No. 15 West Virginia 52

Wednesday:
Oklahoma State 65, No. 25 Texas 63 – OT
No. 19 Baylor 77, TCU 57
Texas Tech 64, Kansas State 47

Saturday:
No. 19 Baylor 87, No. 15 West Virginia 69
No. 11 Iowa State 75, Texas Tech 38
Oklahoma State 67, No. 8 Kansas 62
No. 21 Oklahoma 68, TCU 56
No. 25 Texas 61, Kansas State 57

Kurt’s Korner Week 13 Record: 4-6
Kurt’s Korner 2014-15 Record: 117-35

Week 14 Schedule and Picks:

Monday:
No. 16 Baylor over No. 21 Oklahoma State
No. 14 Iowa State over No. 17 Oklahoma

Tuesday:
No. 8 Kansas over Texas Tech

Wednesday:
No. 21 West Virginia over Kansas State
TCU over Texas

Saturday:
No. 8 Kansas over No. 16 Baylor
No. 21 West Virginia over No. 14 Iowa State
No. 21 Oklahoma State over TCU
Kansas State over No. 17 Oklahoma
Texas over Texas Tech

Big 12 Basketball Review – Week 12

No. 24 Oklahoma completed a sweep of in-state rival Oklahoma State on Saturday after coming from behind in front of a sold out Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. (Univ. of Oklahoma Athletics)

No. 24 Oklahoma completed a sweep of in-state rival Oklahoma State on Saturday after coming from behind in front of a sold out Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater. (Univ. of Oklahoma Athletics)

At the halfway mark in conference play, we have learned a lot about the Big 12 this season.  First, here are the current standings:

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

Who predicted that Texas would be so far down the standings at this point in conference play?  And after the non-conference season TCU had, who had them ninth?

The clear frontrunners to win the regular season title are the Iowa State, West Virginia and the usual suspect, Kansas.  Oklahoma State and Iowa State have a very blatant similarity, in that they both play very well at home but seem to lack the same energy and ball control when they’re on the road.  The Cowboys proved that sometimes that plagues them at home, after their first conference home loss of the year came in front of a sold out crowd in the second installment of Bedlam.

TCU has been surprising this season and has a chance to climb up from the ninth spot, although unlikely to earn a first day bye in March’s Big 12 Tournament.  The Horned Frogs looked very good on Wednesday against Kansas in Fort Worth.

Texas Tech is bad.  Just bad.  I’m not sure that the second round of conference play will prove otherwise.

Much of the rest of the conference’s play is indicative of their record this far into the season.

 

Week 12 Results:

Monday:
No. 15 Iowa State 89, No. 19 Texas 86

Tuesday:
No. 17 West Virginia 65, Kansas State 59
Oklahoma State 64, No. 20 Baylor 53

Wednesday:
No. 24 Oklahoma 81, Texas Tech 36
No. 9 Kansas 64, TCU 61

Saturday:
No. 17 West Virginia 77, Texas Tech 58
No. 15 Iowa State 83, TCU 66
No. 9 Kansas 68, Kansas State 57
No. 20 Baylor 83, No. 19 Texas 60
No. 24 Oklahoma 64, Oklahoma State 56

Kurt’s Korner Week 12 Record: 8-2
Kurt’s Korner 2014-15 Record: 113-29

 

Week 13 Schedule and Picks:

Monday:
Kansas over Iowa State

Tuesday:
West Virginia over Oklahoma

Wednesday:
Texas over Oklahoma State
Baylor over TCU
Kansas State over Texas Tech

Saturday:
West Virginia over Baylor
Iowa State over Texas Tech
Kansas over Oklahoma State
TCU over Oklahoma
Texas over Kansas State

Big 12 Basketball Review – Week 11

Toddrick Gotcher celebrates as unranked Texas Tech upset No. 12 Iowa State in Lubbock on Saturday.  (ESPN)

Toddrick Gotcher celebrates as unranked Texas Tech upset No. 12 Iowa State 78-73 in Lubbock on Saturday. Iowa State becomes the 3rd power to fall at the United Supermarkets Arena in the past two seasons. (ESPN)

While Texas Tech may be just flat out bad, their win on Saturday against 12th-ranked Iowa State proves just how deep the Big 12 really is.  While it’s true in college basketball that anyone can beat anyone on any given night, this fact isn’t more evident in any conference as it is in the Big 12.  The Red Raiders looked just bad at Oklahoma State on Wednesday, but they were quite impressive against Iowa State on Saturday.  After showing that they are capable of competing with anyone, now they just have to actually go out and do it.  I just don’t see the Red Raiders playing like they did on Saturday on a consistent basis.  For their sake, I hope I’m wrong.

Kansas State appears to be on the rise now as they have been playing some decent basketball lately.  With games this week against Kansas and West Virginia, they have a shot at going 2-0.  That will likely prove difficult due to the fact that both the Mountaineers and Jayhawks have more consistent guard play than the Wildcats.  Add in the fact that the Kansas game is in Lawrence and it just seems like the Wildcats will be lucky to split their games this week.

TCU is on the fringe of beating somebody big.  They only lost to West Virginia by one in Morgantown in overtime.  They brand of basketball that the Horned Frogs have been playing has been so much better than in the past thanks to Trent Johnson.  While I still feel that he isn’t the answer to turning that program into a perennial power, Johnson could have this team in the postseason this year.

 

Week 11 Results:

Monday:
No. 18 Texas 66, TCU 48
No. 14 Kansas 85, No. 20 Oklahoma 78

Tuesday:
No. 12 Iowa State 77, Kansas State 71

Wednesday:
No. 21 Baylor 81, Huston-Tillotson 61
Oklahoma State 63, Texas Tech 43

Saturday:
Kansas State 63, Oklahoma State 53
No. 17 West Virginia 86, TCU 85 – OT
No. 14 Kansas 75, No. 18 Texas 62
Texas Tech 78, No. 12 Iowa State 73
No. 21 Baylor 69, No. 20 Oklahoma 58

Kurt’s Korner Week 11 Record: 7-3
Kurt’s Korner 2014-15 Record: 105-27

 

Week 12 Picks

Monday:
No. 15 Iowa State over No. 19 Texas

Tuesday:
No. 17 West Virginia over Kansas State
No. 20 Baylor over Oklahoma State

Wednesday:
No. 24 Oklahoma over Texas Tech
No. 9 Kansas over TCU

Saturday:
No. 17 West Virginia over Texas Tech
No. 15 Iowa State over TCU
No. 9 Kansas over Kansas State
No. 19 Texas over No. 20 Baylor
No. 24 Oklahoma over Oklahoma State

2014 Big 12 Season Review and “Way-too-early” Big 12 Predictions

This year featured the inaugural College Football Playoff, which the Big 12 didn't receive a bid.  This is in large part thanks to the conference's inability to declare "One True Champion" and giving TCU and Baylor a split championship regardless of Baylor's head-to-head advantage. (Outsidetheboxscore.com)

This year featured the inaugural College Football Playoff, which the Big 12 didn’t receive a bid. This is in large part thanks to the conference’s inability to declare “One True Champion” and giving TCU and Baylor a split championship regardless of Baylor’s head-to-head advantage. (Outsidetheboxscore.com)

The 2014 college football season was arguably one of the most exciting in recent memory.  The lack of one true front-runner throughout the duration of the season helped, however the on-field product in the Power 5 conferences seemed to improve.

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)

Big 12 Co-Champion – No. 3 TCU (12-1, 8-1 – Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl Champions):
The TCU Horned Frogs had a record-setting season.  First off, they claimed a conference title in their fifth conference in the last 21 years according to the Kansas City Star.  Averaging just over 46 points per game, the machine that is Doug Meachum’s offense with Trevone Boykin under center was just incredible, especially in an 82-point performance against Texas Tech.  The idea of 10 offensive starters returning gets scarier when the one who replaces the lone graduation, played significant time in that spot and started at points.  Over on the defensive side, the Frogs let up less than 19 points per game with their lone flawed performance coming in the 4th quarter down in Waco in the “controversial” game at Baylor, where the Bears scored 24 unanswered to win.  The Frogs are easily the favorite to win the conference in 2015 and may be able to crack in to the playoff next year as well.

No. 5 Baylor lost the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic to No. 8 Michigan State after splitting the Big 12 Championship.  (USA Today)

No. 5 Baylor lost the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic to No. 8 Michigan State after splitting the Big 12 Championship. (USA Today)

Big 12 Co-Champion – No. 7 Baylor (11-2, 8-1 – Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic)
Baylor was explosive this year.  Thirty-six seconds into their Nov. 22 game against Oklahoma State, they were already up 7-0.  Two plays, 69 yards.  The Bears unfortunately lose a few key starters on both sides of the ball, but lately it seems like Baylor doesn’t rebuild, but rather reload.  Offensive Coordinator Phillip Montgomery is out after taking the head coaching job at Tulsa, but Kendall Briles (yes, Art’s son) has taken over the play-calling duties.  He did so against Michigan State and frankly, it wasn’t bad.  With the entire off-season to work with the Baylor offense, Briles and Briles should have Baylor back and clicking again in 2015.

Kansas State QB Jake Waters passed for 338 yards and 2 TDs in the Wildcats' Alamo Bowl loss to UCLA.  (Bleacher Report)

Kansas State QB Jake Waters passed for 338 yards and 2 TDs in the Wildcats’ Alamo Bowl loss to UCLA. (Bleacher Report)

3rd – No. 18 Kansas State (9-4, 7-2 – Valero Alamo Bowl)
It was a typical year for Bill Snyder’s Kansas State Wildcats.  Senior QB Jake Waters looked impressive for most of the season, regardless of “draft status.”  The Wildcats seem to be consistent regardless of who is under center.  The most noticeable difference in the last few years was transitioning from Daniel Sams to Jake Waters last year, causing Sams to transfer prior to this year.  The only time that a team was just better than K-State for all 60 minutes was Nov. 8 at TCU.  Looking at recent Wildcat teams, I don’t expect much different out of Kansas State next year.  Joe Hubener is going to have big shoes to fill in the eyes of Wildcat faithful, but judging off of Snyder’s track record with QB’s, I think he’ll be fine.

No. 15 Clemson toppled Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl.  After the game, Bob Stoops fired Josh Heupel and replaced him with East Carolina's Lincoln Riley at Offensive Coordinator. (Talking12.com)

No. 18 Clemson toppled Oklahoma in the Russell Athletic Bowl. After the game, Bob Stoops fired Josh Heupel and replaced him with East Carolina’s Lincoln Riley at Offensive Coordinator. (Fansided)

4th – Oklahoma (8-5, 5-4 – Russell Athletic Bowl)
Not a typical season for the Sooners.  First, only one of their four losses came on the road – TCU.  Second, I found the play calling from Oklahoma Offensive Coordinator Lincoln Riley interesting.  I have said time and time again throughout the season that I think Trevor Knight is a solid Quarterback, and I stand by that.  However, if the rumor that Stoops told Heupel to go away from an air raid offense to a zone read, why?  Being from the San Antonio area originally, I watched Knight play in high school.  Reagan HS ran a very pass-heavy offense and during Knight’s senior season, the Rattlers made a deep playoff run behind Knight’s arm.  With a more pass-heavy offensive coordinator now in Norman, I think the Sooners can finish higher next year.

West Virginia played a shootout of a bowl game in Memphis against the SEC's Texas A&M, one of the few, if not the only air raid team in the conference. (Bleacher Report)

West Virginia played a shootout of a bowl game in Memphis against the SEC’s Texas A&M, one of the few, if not the only air raid team in the conference. (Bleacher Report)

5th – West Virginia (7-6, 5-4 – Autozone Liberty Bowl)
The West Virginia Mountaineers had a very up-and-down season.  They started with a strong performance in their loss to Alabama in Atlanta and then avenged a loss from a season ago to Maryland, who in their first year in the Big Ten became bowl eligible.  West Virginia lost to Oklahoma after a rough 2nd half in Morgantown.  Then, a four-game win streak which included a 14-point upset of No. 4 Baylor, ended after a win in Stillwater to spoil Oklahoma State’s homecoming celebration.  Starting with a last-second loss to TCU at home, Dana Holgerson’s team also dropped games at unranked Texas and at home to No. 12 Kansas State.  West Virginia could have had a legitimate shot at winning their bowl game, had QB Clint Trickett not been forced to retire due to concussions.  With the offseason to work in Skylar Howard into the first team, the Mountaineers have the capability to be deadly next year.

Texas and Arkansas renewed an old Southwest Conference rivalry in this year's Advocare V100 Texas Bowl, with the Razorbacks knocking off Charlie Strong's Longhorns, 31-7.  (Bleacher Report)

Texas and Arkansas renewed an old Southwest Conference rivalry in this year’s Advocare V100 Texas Bowl, with the Razorbacks knocking off Charlie Strong’s Longhorns, 31-7. (Bleacher Report)

6th – Texas (6-7, 5-4 – Advocare V100 Texas Bowl)
In Charlie Strong’s debut season in Austin, the Longhorns at times just looked bad.  At other times, they didn’t look bad at all.  Needless to say that it was a season full of inconsistencies, which weren’t helped by David Ash’s retirement due to concussions in the middle of the season.  They looked great against Oklahoma State and West Virginia but just bad against TCU and Arkansas.  With the honeymoon period over at Texas, I’m curious to see how Texas comes back next year.  Texas has a shot for a reason similar to that of Oklahoma, it’s Texas.

Oklahoma State, who became bowl eligible in their regular season finale, was one of only two Big 12 teams to win their bowl game.  (USA Today)

Oklahoma State, who became bowl eligible in their regular season finale, was one of only two Big 12 teams to win their bowl game. (USA Today)

7th – Oklahoma State (7-6, 4-5 – Ticket City Cactus Bowl Champions)
The Oklahoma State Cowboys had a frustrating season.  Starting the season with a very impressive performance against defending national champion and 2014 playoff team, Florida State.  The Pokes were able to mostly contain Jameis Winston and the Seminole offense.  With JW Walsh’s injury in Week 2 against Missouri State, the OSU offense took a hit.  Things looked good with Daxx Garman for a while, as he didn’t throw his first pick until Sept. 25 against Texas Tech.  After Garman went down against Texas, it looked like things were glorious in Stillwater with the entrance of Mason Rudolph, a true freshman.  Even the dismissal of star Running Back Tyreek Hill following reports of domestic violence didn’t seem to cause a stutter on the offensive side.  If the Cowboys are able to replace the likes of Ryan Simmons on defense, watch out for next year’s veteran Pokes.

Texas Tech went on a massive slide in Kliff Kingsbury's second year coaching in Lubbock, missing bowl eligibility.  (SB Nation)

Texas Tech went on a massive slide in Kliff Kingsbury’s second year coaching in Lubbock, missing bowl eligibility. (SB Nation)

8th – Texas Tech (4-8, 2-7 – No Bowl Game)
Honestly, the highlight of Texas Tech’s season was the upset bid they had against No. 7 Baylor right up until the end.  After Baylor QB Bryce Petty left with an injury, Patrick Mahomes led the Red Raiders all the way back and they made it an interesting finish in Arlington.  With many on the Red Raider roster returning next year and many more returning from injuries, Texas Tech may be able to return to bowl eligibility next season.  The tough part that could prevent that are trips to Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and the newly nicknamed “BU-TT Bowl” in Arlington against Baylor.  Texas Tech is that one team that I just don’t know about for the 2015 season.

Kansas gave Charlie Weis his pink slip following a 23-0 home loss to Kansas early in the season.  Meet David Beaty, the Jayhawks' new head man.  (KansasCity.com)

Kansas gave Charlie Weis his pink slip following a 23-0 home loss to Texas early in the season. Meet David Beaty, the Jayhawks’ new head man. (KansasCity.com)

9th – Kansas (3-9, 1-8 – No Bowl Game)
Kansas had a typical season in Lawrence.  It’s hard for the Jayhawks to compete when they don’t have the tradition of the schools they compete against for recruits like Kansas State, Oklahoma and Missouri.  I honestly don’t know that firing Charlie Weis was the answer, but that is the direction that KU went and it gives David Beaty the chance to do something with a historically lacking program after serving as the Wide Receivers coach and Recruiting Coordinator at Texas A&M.  The latter should make more of an impact than his position, but he still has to compete with those same schools next year.  At least the Jayhawks won a conference game this year.  Progress?

Iowa State struggled in the 2014 season with their only wins coming against Toledo and Iowa.  However, some might credit the Cyclones with spoiling TCU's playoff hopes after TCU blew out Iowa State 55-3 in Fort Worth to end the season.  (USA Today/Gannett)

Iowa State struggled in the 2014 season with their only wins coming against Toledo and Iowa. However, some might credit the Cyclones with spoiling TCU’s playoff hopes after TCU blew out Iowa State 55-3 in Fort Worth to end the season. (USA Today/Gannett)

10th – Iowa State (2-10, 0-9 – No Bowl Game)
Iowa State has declined recently.  The Cyclones just can’t draw the recruits to be competitive and it’s showing on the field.  I firmly believe that Paul Rhodes could be one of the best coaches in the nation if he were able to get recruits to go to Ames, Iowa, and play for ISU.  However, in competing for recruits against the rest of the Big 12, Iowa, Missouri and Ohio State as well as other schools in the Big Ten such as Nebraska, that proves to be nearly impossible.  With the recruits other schools in the Big 12 are bringing in and the ones that Rhodes is able to get to Ames, that doesn’t seem to stop soon.  Hopefully the Cyclones can manage to win a few conference games, which would likely make it easier.

In comparison to ESPN’s Big 12 bloggers during the 2014 season, I like to think I had a fairly successful season pick-wise.  My 2014 record was 62-11 in Big 12 games (View a game-by-game breakdown here, Kurt’s Korner Football).  ESPN’s Jake Trotter and Brandon Chatmon both went 61-12 while Max Olson went 58-15 on the year.

Kurt’s Korner’s “Way-Too-Early” Big 12 Rankings for 2015:

1) TCU – The Horned Frogs return 16-of-22 starters from 2014, including 10 on offense.  With Boykin back under center for 2015 the TCU offense should be able to be just as potent.

2) Oklahoma State – The Cowboys found their rhythm with Mason Rudolph at QB.  Look for Rudolph to start over a healthy JW Walsh next year.

3) Baylor – Lately, Baylor has been able to compete every year.  With Oakman and some other key pieces coming back, this should be able to continue.

4) Oklahoma – With the air raid attack back in Norman, Trevor Knight and the Sooner offense should be fine.

5) Texas – In the second year under Charlie Strong and with Tyrone Swoopes at QB, the Longhorns should be a little more consistent than they were this year.  However, it will take another season or two to get back to the storied Texas program.

6) Kansas State – The Wildcats lose a few key pieces but return Glenn Gronkowski at Tight End.  Under Bill Snyder, it seems that the Wildcats are never going to be bad.

7) West Virginia – The Mountaineers may start clicking toward the end of the year unless Skylar Howard really develops during the offseason.

8) Texas Tech – The Red Raiders won’t likely have too many problems offensively, but rather on defense.  If Texas Tech could get some consistency at defensive coordinator, maybe they could compete for a Big 12 title.

9) Kansas – It’s just hard for me to think that David Beaty can really make a significant difference without experience as a major coordinator.

10) Iowa State – The Cyclones still lack the solid recruits that they need to compete with not just the Big 12, but much of the Power 5.