So despite it being March and Kansas playing as well as they have all season, we here at IBT have apparently forgot about our own blog. Sorry about that. But then again, sometimes less is more, and especially when you have a post up that proved fairly prophetic, perhaps not replacing it with something that's entirely wrong isn't a bad idea. But then again, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least share a few thoughts about what has transpired lately and what is to come.
As for Saturday, I could not have picked a better time to return to the Phog. Considering the lack of marquee games there this year, I couldn't be happier about the ones I have been able to attend (NAU, Arizona and KSU). Obviously, Arizona was the best game of the year, NAU was NAU, and Saturday was incredible. Even when I used to be able to go to nearly every game, I would always get chills during the opening video, but on Saturday they never went away (with the possible exception of the foul induced bore that was the last 6 minutes of the first half). Clearly I would have loved to be at every game this year, but the one I'll truly regret missing was Monday. After that game, I have never felt stronger about their chances to hang a new banner in the Fieldhouse. Sure, they could go down to College Station, lay an egg and I'll again be apprehensive about things, but in my opinion, the senior leadership on this team has never been more evident. Granted they won't have the same fan support the rest of the way, absolutely no one could have beaten them on Saturday or Monday. And that's what you want (and they had been missing) – the attitude that "there's no fucking way we're losing this game!"
I don't have a whole lot to say about Saturday, because A&M isn't giving me much to work with. How they can beat Tech by 44 points and then only put up 37 in Norman is truly unbelievable. Clearly, they are a much better team in College Station, but then again, how do you explain the Nebraska loss? So if anyone tells you they know how this game will go, punch them in the brain and tell them they're lying. Personally though, I don't see how they don't come out as fired up as they've been all year for a couple of reasons. 1) It's Kansas. And even if some teams don't want to admit it, they (and their fans) get more up for Kansas games than any other. 2) They NEED the win. Whether they lose @ Baylor tomorrow (my guess) or not, they'll desperately need this win for tournament consideration (or at least seeding). But let's not forget that Kansas is playing to win the Big XII and these seniors have never fallen short of that feat (albeit they didn't play a role in the 1st one).
As for the rest of the conference, who said at the beginning that this league was extremely middle-heavy and jumbled? OK, probably a lot of people. But you definitely saw it here as well. With less than a week to go, there are truly only two tournament locks, but six others have a feasible chance of getting in. Here's how I see it panning out…
1. KSU (19-10, 9-6) Remaining: @ ISU – tried playing their way out, but with a marketable player like Beasley, even if they lose to ISU and their first tourney game, they’re still sneaking in.
2. Baylor (20-8, 8-6) Remaining: v A&M, @ Tech - Success stories also have a way of finding their way in. Couple that with their current 8-6 record and I’ll give them the nod. As long as they win 1 of their last 2 and 1 in the tourney, they’ll be fine.
3. Oklahoma (19-10, 7-7) Remaining: @ OSU, v. Methzou – Injuries have killed this team, but they just don’t go away and that will get them good consideration with the committee. Winning in GIA without Blake Griffin seems tough, but as long as they beat Methzou, they’ll be in.
4. Texas A&M (21-8, 7-7) Remaining: @ Baylor, v. Kansas – Well they’ve got every chance to make it in, but can they do it? Truth be told, no one has a clue. Personally, I see them losing both, but winning 1 or 2 in the tourney and sneaking in…but I have no idea why.
5. OSU (16-12, 7-7) Remaining: v. OU, @ UT – Amazingly, a Sean Sutton coached team is playing semi-smart and even winning on the road. But it’s probably too little too late, which is unfortunate, because they’re playing well right now.
6. Texas Tech (16-13, 7-8) Remaining: Baylor – Personally, I think they’re done, but if they beat another quality bubble team in Baylor, finish 8-8 and win at least 1 in the tourney, they’ll be in the discussion. I’d say nothing short of the semis gets it done though.
So all in all, I ‘d say the league gets 6 bids, which is about right. And especially with 8 in the discussion, it’s a great improvement from last year’s 4 (5 in discussion), because before Maric dropped a steal last night, Nebraska was ready to tie/beat Texas in Austin and could have warranted discussion also. Needless to say, the Sprint Center should be awesome.
Here’s a few links before we go…
I’m sure you’ve seen it, but here’s the latest Bracketology. I hate you Joe Lunardi.
From Vegas Watch, the odds on national champions. It’s about what you’d expect, but certainly worth a look and you’re sure to disagree with a few.
In case you’re not planning to be in enough brackets already, here’s the entry at Storming the Floor. Not the best prizes, unfortunately. But that’s what happens in free pools.
Pretty good stuff here...