Although slots four through ten are no longer separated by just a game as they were this time last week, the league is still a complete mess in the middle as the season winds to a close. Thanks to a complete tanking by Kansas State — losers of four straight and five out of six — the Baylor Bears actually control their own destiny in regards to the 3-seed in Kansas City. And with a late-season push, even the Oklahoma State Cowboys are within striking distance of that fourth and final bye in the conference tournament.
Texas Longhorns (11-3)
Remaining games: vs. Nebraska (Tuesday), vs. Oklahoma State (Sunday)
Outlook: The loss to Tech puts the Longhorns in a tie with Kansas once again, but they hold the tiebreaker for the #1 seed in Kansas City thanks to the victory over the Jayhawks last month. The crowds for this week’s games could be abysmal, with the Nebraska tip at 6:30 P.M. and the Oklahoma State game being played during Spring Break.
Kansas Jayhawks (11-3)
Remaining games: vs. Texas Tech (Tonight), at Texas A&M (Saturday)
Outlook: Unless the Longhorns stumble, the best that Kansas can hope for is a split title and the 2-seed in the post-season tournament. But Kansas must match Texas stride-for-stride down the homestretch, and their schedule is admittedly more difficult. Tech has a very slim shot at the NCAAs, but a road win in Lawrence would propel them to the top of the bubble discussion. And with A&M fading fast, their backs will be against the wall when Kansas comes to town on Sunday. KU cannot afford to overlook either one of these two teams.
Baylor Bears (8-6)
Remaining games: vs. Texas A&M (Wednesday), at Texas Tech (Saturday)
Outlook: Thanks to the head-to-head win over K-State, the Bears would claim the 3-seed if they win their remaining two games. But a stumble against A&M or Tech opens the door for the four teams sitting just a game back at 7-7, so Scott Drew’s guard-tastic team has to stay on top of its game this final week.
Kansas State Wildcats (8-6)
Remaining games: vs. Colorado (Tuesday), at Iowa State (Saturday)
Outlook: While Baylor does hold the tiebreaker, the Wildcats have the more manageable schedule this week. The home game against Colorado should finally snap the KSU slide, but this team has struggled all season long on the road and Hilton Coliseum will be a tough place to win on Senior Night. A split this week could drop the ‘Cats all the way from first place at the beginning of February to an opening-round game next Thursday in KC.
Texas A&M Aggies (7-7)
Remaining games: at Baylor (Wednesday), vs. Kansas (Saturday)
Outlook: While the K-State slide might seem monumental, the Aggies are the only team in the country this year who have fallen from the Top 10 to sweating things out on the bubble. A&M managed less than a point a minute in Norman on Saturday, and that simply won’t get the job done against the high-powered offenses of Baylor and Kansas. If Texas A&M wants to feel secure about its place in the NCAAs, they really have to steal that road game in Waco on Wednesday night, one that Longhorn Road Trip will be watching live from the Ferrell Center.
Oklahoma Sooners (7-7)
Remaining games: at Oklahoma State (Wednesday), vs. Missouri (Saturday)
Outlook: Of the four southern teams knotted at 7-7, Oklahoma has the easiest schedule left. The road game against Bedlam rival OSU won’t be easy, but a 9-7 finish and a potential 4-seed is within the grasp of the Sooners.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-7)
Remaining games: vs. Oklahoma (Wednesday), at Texas (Sunday)
Outlook: Raise your hand if you thought OSU would be earning fringe bubble talk with a week left to go in the season. Anyone? Fry? Bueller? The Pokes have a bitch of a finish in Austin on Sunday, but home court in the Bedlam series could put them above .500 in league play for what feels like the first time since Grover Cleveland was in office.
Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-7)
Remaining games: at Kansas (Tonight), vs. Baylor (Saturday)
Outlook: Pat Knight already has two Top 25 upsets on his nine-game bio, but both of those came in the friendly confines of the United Spirit Arena. This difficult final stretch will test the Red Raiders, and they could easily drop both games and find themselves playing in the dreaded 8-9 game next week.
Nebraska Cornhuskers (6-8)
Remaining games: at Texas (Tuesday), vs. Colorado (Sunday)
Outlook: After a promising non-conference start, Nebraska fizzled in Big 12 play. Winning three of their last four has them in the mix, but a tough road date with the Longhorns could quickly kill that momentum. The home game against Colorado on Sunday should provide an easy win, setting the Huskers up for potential home games in the NIT.
Missouri Tigers (5-9)
Remaining games: vs. Iowa State (Wednesday), at Oklahoma (Saturday)
Outlook: A possible split to finish the season for the Tigers, who have to be happy with even five conference wins after their entire team decided to have a brawl in a nightclub. If only they’d decided to have their Ultimate Fighting Championship prior to the game with Texas…
Iowa State Cyclones (4-10)
Remaining games: at Missouri (Wednesday), vs. Kansas State (Saturday)
Outlook: With K-State struggling on the road, the Cyclones could put a nice capper on a disappointing season by pulling off the home upset on Jiri Hubalek’s senior day. While the season has generally been a wash, the young talent that Coach McDermott has on-board could mean that great things will be happening in Ames in the near future.
Colorado Buffaloes (3-11)
Remaining games: at Kansas State (Tuesday), at Nebraska (Sunday)
Outlook: Richard Roby will finally exhaust his eligibility. It’s about damned time.