Big 12 Conference Call: February 9 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on February 9th, 2013

Welcome to another edition of our Big 12 Conference Call! This week has been some kind of something hasn’t it? We have seen TCU take down Kansas in perhaps the biggest upset in the Big 12 era as well as Baylor and Oklahoma’s attempts to play themselves off the tournament bubble. There are bigger questions that loom too. Who has the inside track for Big 12 Coach of the Year? And, if Kansas continues to slide, who will win the Big 12? Today, we’ll hit on those topics and more. 

1. Kory predicted the Jayhawks to fall to Oklahoma State on Saturday and we all know what happened at TCU on Wednesday. Is their Big 12 title hopes in jeopardy?

2. If Kansas doesn’t win the Big 12 title, who will sit atop the conference standings at the end of the year?

3. Imagine yourself on this year’s NCAA Tournament Committee and you’re forced to choose Baylor or Oklahoma to put in the field of 68. Which team would you go with and why?

4. Who do you like to win Big 12 Coach of the Year?

5. Which of the three Texas schools will have the highest finish — UT, Tech or TCU?

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An unreal night in the Metroplex. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

It was an unbelievable night in the Metroplex. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

1. Kory predicted the Jayhawks to fall to Oklahoma State on Saturday and we all know what happened at TCU on Wednesday. Is their Big 12 title hopes in jeopardy?

KC: Absolutely. With the way Kansas had been playing in January, the loss to Oklahoma State was coming. The Cowboys have plenty of talent and nobody was going to go undefeated in the Big 12 this season, anyway. But the loss to TCU -ranked lower in kempom than the likes of Quinnipiac and Yale- is the worst Kansas loss since before Larry Brown was coaching in the 80’s. Point guards Elijah Johnson and Naadir Tharpe shot a combined 5-for-27 with three assists against the Horned Frogs. In his last eight games, Johnson has more turnovers (28) than assists (25). If that doesn’t trouble you, nothing will.

NK: Most definitely. Kory hit the nail on the head — a slip up was bound to happen. To be truthful, I didn’t see one of this magnitude. Their loss to TCU Wednesday has gone down as easily the biggest upset in the Big 12 era in my opinion. The Jayhawks could only win in spite of their point guard problems for so long. And now in a time where a team like Kansas is supposed to separate themselves from the rest of their conference mates, they find themselves in a tighter league race. At least it’s better for the fans of other teams.

DS: They’re in a heck of a lot more jeopardy than they were a week ago, that’s for sure. And yet the Jayhawks still sit tied atop the league with Kansas State, and they own the tiebreaker with that win in Manhattan. So forget the TCU debacle. With half of the Big 12 schedule left to play, Bill Self once again has his team in position to win a regular season title. Kansas has serious issues on the offensive end, and it’s hard to envision this team doing a ton of damage in March, but it’s still the class of the Big 12. With Self’s track record, I’m expecting to see vintage Kansas show up against the Wildcats on Big Monday. But that game in Norman is a tough one this weekend.

2. If Kansas doesn’t win the Big 12 title, who will sit atop the conference standings at the end of the year?

KC: Oklahoma State and Iowa State are within a game of Kansas while the Wildcats are tied for first. Oklahoma State has five games left they should win and four tossups: Oklahoma, Kansas, Kansas State, at Iowa State. Iowa State has four games they should win and five tossups: At Kansas State, at Baylor, Kansas, at Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State. Kansas State has five tossups as well: Iowa State, at Kansas, Baylor twice, and at Oklahoma State. If Kansas State wins in Lawrence on Saturday, they will be the favorites. If not, I’ll go with Oklahoma State. They have the most talent out of the three teams mentioned and three of their four tossups are at home.

NK: My money’s on the Cowboys. We saw flashes of their best in Puerto Rico and now we’re seeing it again. I like them more than K-State for the fact that OK State has one of four guys (Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, Markel Brown and Phil Forte) that can go off on any night while the Wildcats are counting on Rodney McGruder to be the spark against quality opponents. They’re hot at the right time.

DS: Kansas State, and I say that without hesitation. Oklahoma State won at Allen Fieldhouse, but it’s hard to gauge the Cowboys’ rollercoaster of a regular season. If the Wildcats can find a way to win at the Phog on Monday, they’ll be the front-runner. Until then, they’re still playing catchup after losing to KU at home.

3. Imagine yourself on this year’s NCAA Tournament Committee and you’re forced to choose Baylor or Oklahoma to put in the field of 68. Which team would you go with and why?

KC: Both teams have been bad against the RPI top 50 (Baylor 3-6, Oklahoma 2-5) but the Sooners are 6-2 against the RPI 51-100 while Baylor is 2-1. The Bears also have that bad loss to Charleston, a team in the 151-200 RPI range, so I’d have to give Oklahoma the edge.

NK: This is tough. I believe Baylor to be the more talented of the two but they have too many bad losses at home for my liking. On the other hand, Oklahoma did beat the Bears on their home floor. But here’s two reasons why I’m giving the slight edge to Baylor. They fared better in the non-conference with wins vs BYU and at Kentucky. Secondly, look at how each squad did in losses to RPI Top 50 teams. Oklahoma lost to its five opponents by a combined 68 points (13.6 point loss on average) while Baylor lost its six games by a combined 39 points (6.5 point loss on average). After Saturday, Oklahoma has an easier road to an at-large bid while the Bears will have to contend with Kansas, Kansas State (twice) and Iowa State in their next eight games. We’ll see how it shakes out.

DS: I’m putting Oklahoma in the field, simply because it won at Baylor. They’ve got almost identical resumes, but that game is the difference.

4. Who do you like to win Big 12 Coach of the Year?

KC: Fred Hoiberg. He is on pace to reach consecutive NCAA Tournaments at Iowa State for the first time since 2000 and 2001. He has revitalized a program that had reached only one NCAA Tournament in the nine years before he took over, reeling in talented transfers to quickly compete in the Big 12 while quietly recruiting solid high school talent like freshman and former four-star forward Georges Niang. Next year’s class features two four-star players as well, Matt Thomas and Monte Morris.

NK: I’m giving it to Fred Hoiberg and this one would be more improbable than the one he shared with Bill Self last season. He’s coaching a team that lost 52% of last year’s scoring and yet here they are, currently sitting in 3rd place in the Big 12. Remember when people doubted the hire because he never coached before? I wonder where they went.

DS: Has to be Lon Kruger. I always hate the Coach of the Year award, which is essentially the “coach whose team had the most surprising season” award, but Kruger deserves it. By mixing his returning veterans with a few freshmen and Amath M’Baye, he’s completely transformed the culture of Oklahoma basketball in fewer than two seasons. This senior class has never had a winning season at Oklahoma, until now. That’s impressive.

Is Fred Hoiberg looking at his 2nd Big 12 Coach of the Year award in 3 years? (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

Is Fred Hoiberg looking at his 2nd Big 12 Coach of the Year award in 3 years? (Brian Ray/The Gazette)

5. Which of the three Texas schools will have the highest finish — UT, Tech or TCU?

KC: The return of Myck Kabongo should give the Longhorns the edge in this battle of futility. What a strange year in the Big 12, though. Texas is in a fight to finish ahead of Texas Tech and TCU while the Horned Frogs have a better win than anything the Longhorns can lay claim to.

NK: Texas Tech. The Longhorns have more problems that Kabongo’s return is going to fix. Plus look at the guy running the point for UT now. Javan Felix is better than most backup point guards in America. He’s averaging five assists per game just like Kabongo did in his freshman campaign. Tech is getting more from Jordan Tolbert in the last few weeks after learning of his dad’s passing back in October. Wreck ‘em Tech.

DS: Texas. Myck Kabongo will be good for something when he comes back. It won’t save the Longhorns, but it’ll separate them from the cellar.

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