Big 12 Bubble Watch: Texas is Here to Stay

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 23rd, 2014

Want a good laugh? Take a look at our Big 12 Bubble Watch from six weeks ago. Look at how gaudy those early season records were! Sigh, we were only kids then. But now is a lot different. Kansas appears headed for another Big 12 championship while early favorites Baylor and Iowa State are struggling to find themselves in conference play. Kansas State has turned around what could have been a disaster of a season following a co-Big 12 title last year. Oklahoma State is very much in the conversation for dethroning the Jayhawks and Rick Barnes’ Texas Longhorns continue to surprise us game after game.

(Ed. Note: While it was unclear in December who would win the Big 12, at least now we have a good enough sample size to project a team to take the conference’s automatic bid. For this particular scenario, that Big 12 champion is Kansas. Not considered in this Bubble Watch were TCU, Texas Tech and West Virginia.) 

Rick Barnes has coached himself back into the Texas job this season. I'm sure I could have phrased that better. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Rick Barnes has coached himself back into the Texas job this season. I’m sure I could have phrased that better. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

In Very Good Shape

Oklahoma State: 15-3 (3-2); RPI: 12, SOS: 38

Analysis: It seemed like the world would come crashing down when Michael Cobbins went down with a season-ending Achilles injury and the Stevie Clark situation(s) flared up, but it wasn’t so. Marcus Smart is still doing Marcus Smart things and did you know Phil Forte is connecting on half of his three-pointers this season (53-for-106)? Seriously. Oklahoma State managed to be a few possessions from winning at both Kansas State and Kansas (and for that matter, a few possessions from losing at West Virginia). While having Memphis and Colorado as good non-conference wins, nice RPI and SOS numbers, no bad losses, and the rough part of their schedule still to come, Travis Ford’s team has plenty of chances to add to its portfolio.

Iowa State: 14-3 (2-3); RPI: 10, SOS: 11

Analysis: Surprised to see these guys here? The Cyclones’ struggles have been well-documented and their chances at a Big 12 regular season title are dwindling, but there is still a lot going right for this team. Remember that win over Michigan in mid-November? Its luster started to fade but the Mitch McGary-less Wolverines have re-entered the Big Ten title race with consecutive wins at Wisconsin and against Iowa. Speaking of the Hawkeyes, Iowa State beat them last month as well. At this point in the season, the difference between the Cyclones and Baylor is their head-to-head match-up in Ames where Fred Hoiberg’s team took them out with ease. What will be interesting to see from the Cyclones now will be how they deal with DeAndre Kane’s minutes. He’s played 35 minutes or more in every Big 12 game while battling an ankle injury. Will Hoiberg try to work Bubu Palo, who was placed back on the team by a county judge, into the rotation to supplant Kane? We shall see.

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Who Won The Week? Indiana, Arkansas, and a Team Led by the Nephew of an NBA Hall of Famer…

Posted by Kenny Ocker @KennyOcker on January 17th, 2014

Who Won the Week? is a regular column that will outline and discuss three winners and losers from the previous week. The author of this column is Kenny Ocker (@KennyOcker), a Spokane-based sportswriter best known for his willingness to drive (or bike!) anywhere to watch a basketball game. But he’s not biking anywhere with a sub-zero wind chill.

WINNER: Indiana

The Indiana faithful certainly had something to cheer about this week. Could the Hoosiers be on the upswing? (Getty)

The Indiana faithful certainly had something to cheer about this week. Could the Hoosiers be on the upswing? (Getty)

The Hoosiers were off to a poor start in Big Ten play, falling at Illinois in overtime and then getting blown out at Assembly Hall by Michigan State. The second week of conference play proved to be far better in Bloomington. Led by freshman forward Noah Vonleh’s 19 points and six rebounds, the Hoosiers went into State College and beat Penn State 79-76 on Saturday. And when I say “led by,” I mean “Vonleh was the only Hoosier to make more than half of his shots, and his teammates combined to go 16-of-49 from the field.” A road win is a road win, after all, and when it’s your first win in conference, it’s nothing to complain about. But what really won the week for Indiana was its performance against heretofore undefeated Wisconsin on Tuesday night. The Badgers, one of four teams in the nation undefeated to that point, came into Assembly Hall riding a 12-game winning streak against the Hoosiers. Yeah, that’s over. Yogi Ferrell made sure of that. The sophomore guard lit up the nets for 25 points while also dishing four assists, leading his team to an instant resume-building win, downing the Badgers 75-72. Considering that Indiana’s best win to that point was over an 11-7 Washington team, the Hoosiers picked a mighty fine time to show up huge. Because of their skimpy resume, though, the Hoosiers will likely have to go at least 10-8 in conference, if not 11-7, to get an NCAA Tournament at-large bid come March. This week’s turnaround from a slow start will give them a much better opportunity to get to that point, and to get a ticket to the Big Dance.

(Related winners: Undefeated-in-conference Michigan State and Michigan, who have the conference lead to themselves now. Related losers: Penn State, which is a painful 0-5 in conference so far; Wisconsin; Wisconsin forward Duje Dukan, who got one rebound in 11 minutes, ruining his chance at 11 trillion in the box score.)

LOSER: Iowa State

So much for that 14-0 start in Ames. A pesky trip to Norman undid that. And then the familiar hoodoo against Kansas reared its head again. And now the Cyclones are 14-2. Somewhere in the middle, star guard and Marshall transfer DeAndre Kane got hurt, although you wouldn’t know it by his performances. Iowa State went into Oklahoma’s gym and decided that letting Ryan Spangler grab every rebound he possibly could (15, including seven on the offensive glass) would be a fantastic idea. Spangler turned that into 16 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 shooting from the free throw line. The Cyclones also forgot to guard guard Buddy Hield, who had 22 points and hit six three-pointers. That’s a really good way to blow a game in which Kane had 23 points and nine rebounds before rolling his ankle late, and the Robin to his Batman, Melvin Ejim, having 21 points and six rebounds of his own.

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Award Tour: Doug McDermott Strengthens Grip on POY

Posted by Jameson Fleming on January 17th, 2014

AwardTour

Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

As usual, there are many candidates knocking on the door of the Player of the Year race. Florida’s Casey Prather dropped out temporarily after missing the last two games with an injury. He’ll likely be back in the rankings at some point as he’s Julius Randle’s top competition for SEC Player of the Year. After a few rough games, UMass’ Chaz Williams is back on track thanks to a 26-point, eight-assist performance in the Minutemen’s thrilling win against George Mason. Andrew Wiggins is inching closer to the rankings after a monster double-double game against Iowa State, with 17 points and 19 rebounds against the Cyclones. Michigan State’s Gary Harris and Keith Appling have also picked up the slack for the injured Adreian Payne as Sparty continues to roll on.

It's a safe bet that these three guys will be in the mix for POY honors.

It’s a safe bet that these three guys will be in the mix for POY honors.

Player of the Year

10. Russ Smith – Louisville. Last Week: 10
2013-14 stats: 18.1 PPG, 4.9 APG, 113.4 oRTG

Russ Smith hasn’t put together a complete game in a while and that trend continued Thursday night against Houston. He hasn’t scored fewer than 18 points since December 17, but his turnovers are out of control. He has committed 19 miscues in his last four games including five more against the Cougars. He’s logged at least four turnovers in seven of Louisville’s last eight games after doing so well with just three times in the Cardinals’ first 10 games. With Chane Behanan’s dismissal and Chris Jones’ recent struggles (10+ points in just one of Louisville’s last nine games), Smith’s production has to remain elite WITHOUT turnovers for Louisville to be considered a national title threat.

9. Lamar Patterson – Pittsburgh. Last Week: Not Ranked
2013-14 stats:  17.6 PPG, 4.6 APG, 123.4 oRTG

It’s a gamble to add Lamar Patterson to the Player of the Year rankings considering Pitt basically hasn’t played anyone all season. The Panthers’ first major challenge comes Saturday in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. This weekend will be Patterson’s chance to show he has in fact emerged as one of the best players in the country. He’s currently tearing it up in Oakland to the tune of 58 percent from two, 43 percent from three, and a studly 123.4 offensive rating on a 27.5 percent usage rate. He’s the main reason Jamie Dixon’s squad is the second best team in the ACC.

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Big 12 M5: 01.16.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 16th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. The Big 12 is one of the two best conferences in the country, so it comes as no surprise that a handful of players from the league made The Sporting News’ midseason All-American teams, which were released on Wednesday. Marcus Smart cracked TSN‘s first team, while Andrew Wiggins and DeAndre Kane made the second and third teams, respectively. The absence of Joel Embiid is a testament to the quality of the top-shelf individual talents around college basketball, but with half a season left, there’s plenty of time for the heralded phenom to make himself a bigger part of the discussion.
  2. With this June’s NBA Draft being hyped as perhaps the best since 2003, NBA scouts are constantly on the move from venue to venue to get a close look at the next wave of pros. DraftExpress gave us a peek behind the curtain of how scouts take in college games, surveying personnel and executives on their experiences and how they develop relationships with prospect-laden programs. It’s a fascinating look at which schools are most accommodating to scouts and which ones leave more to be desired, as well as the prolonged effects of something as seemingly small as being given a sub-optimal seat at a college game. As far as the Big 12 is concerned, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State were cited as having the most welcoming support staffs for pro personnel, while the setups and Oklahoma State and Texas drew ire for a relative lack of hospitality.
  3. In by far the biggest upset of conference play so far, Texas Tech topped Baylor in Lubbock last night, 82-72. What was most surprising about the Red Raiders’ effort was that the team wasn’t the least bit fazed by the Bears’ zone, attacking the paint with alacrity and getting offensive rebounds when their initial shots didn’t fall. Baylor made a few small runs in the second half, but never got it close. Dejan Kravic led the way with a great all-around game, posting 14 rebounds, nine boards and six assists off the bench. Baylor was never as good as its 12th-ranked spot in the ESPN poll suggested, but this is a bad loss for the Bears, even on the road. The conference as a whole benefits, since the victory catapulted Texas Tech from 103rd to 90th in Ken Pomeroy’s rankings. The Big 12 now has nine of its ten teams in KenPom’s top 100.
  4. In recent years, alternate uniforms have played a key role in generating buzz for schools, whether it’s among the fan bases or on the recruiting trail. Kansas has sported two distinct throwback threads this season, and during Bill Self‘s weekly radio show, the head coach announced that Kansas’ alternate uniforms will be kept in the rotation for next season. The announcement is somewhat surprising, given the Jayhawks’ reputation as a blue-blooded program with a very distinct yet classic look that doesn’t change very often, but in the currently competitive landscape, teams have to keep up with one another. As long as the Jayhawks continue to win in the new unis, it’s tough to foresee much resentment from the fans.
  5. Jeff Haley of Burnt Orange Nation breaks down advanced metrics about as well as anyone, and he has some interesting insights about Texas‘ last two games and about the Big 12 in general. One nugget that seems to be flying under the radar is about the Longhorns’ strength on the glass, which has allowed them to pull out some games they otherwise wouldn’t have won. Rick Barnes‘ team is one to keep an eye on as we advance into the heart of conference play, and they’ll likely need a scalp or two from the top tier of the conference to crack the NCAA Tournament field this year.
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Three Thoughts on Kansas’ Big Win Over Iowa State Monday Night

Posted by Taylor Erickson on January 14th, 2014

Monday night’s tilt between Kansas and Iowa State entered Monday night as one of the most anticipated Big 12 games to date, in large part due to the fierce competition that developed between the two fan bases last season, stemming from two classic meetings that both required overtime to settle the score. Iowa State came into this game with a huge question mark at point guard following an ankle injury on Saturday to standout DeAndre Kane, but it appeared to have little impact as he showed up and played big, going for 21 points, eight rebounds, three assists and four steals.

Joel Embiid dominated in the second half against Iowa State.

Joel Embiid dominated in the second half against Iowa State.

Instead, the storyline from Monday night revolves around the talented Kansas freshmen, namely Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid, both of whom played phenomenally in helping secure a huge win in one of the most difficult environments in college basketball. Listen, many expected Kansas to turn the corner over Christmas break like so many previous teams had done, but the home loss to San Diego State a couple weeks ago had some questioning whether Bill Self would be able to build a complete team with so many freshman playing key minutes. Since that time, Kansas has jumped out to a 3-0 start in Big 12 play and appears to clicking at just the right time, while in the midst of one of the toughest stretches in the schedule. Here are three thoughts on Bill Self’s biggest win this season, and how it impacts the league race moving forward.

  1. Joel Embiid was flat-out dominant for a stretch in the second half. Coming off a Kansas State game Saturday where Embiid picked up a silly flagrant two foul late in the game that earned him an ejection, Embiid once again found himself in a tussle early with Kane that resulted in a flagrant one foul. The second boneheaded play by Embiid in as many games resulted in a seat on the bench for a portion of the first half, and limited him from having much of a first half impact. In the second half, however, Embiid took over the game for a sequence, finding an open Frank Mason out of a double-team, followed by two baskets on the offensive end of the floor, and a block-and-rip-away on Iowa State forward Dustin Hogue. After the game, Cyclones’ head coach Fred Hoiberg called Embiid the “best player” in the nation. While that still might be a bit of a stretch, when the athletic seven-footer is on top of his game, he presents Kansas with a weapon that few teams in college basketball have. Going forward, you can bet other Big 12 squads will try to get in Embiid’s head to bait him into retaliatory actions, and Embiid will have to be prepared to deal with such chippiness for the remainder of the season. It’s much better for opponents if he’s not in the game.  Read the rest of this entry »
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Big 12 Game Of The Week Preview: Kansas vs. Iowa State

Posted by Taylor Erickson and Brian Goodman on January 13th, 2014

If the thrilling battles between Kansas and Iowa State at Hilton Coliseum over the last few seasons are any indication, the Jayhawks might have found themselves a rivalry replacement in the wake of Missouri’s departure to the SEC. Whether you want to talk about Fred Hoiberg‘s rapid rise among the coaching ranks, Bill Self finding himself face-to-face with an amped-up Cyclones fan, or several controversial calls, the reality is that this match-up has never failed to deliver over the past few seasons. The latest installment comes tonight as the Cyclones may need to rely on Hilton Magic with its star player DeAndre Kane banged up or otherwise unavailable (he is listed as a game-time decision). Big 12 microsite writers Brian Goodman (@bsgoodman) and Taylor Erickson (@tc_erickson) take a look at the key storylines going into tonight’s headliner.

Can Iowa State win without DeAndre Kane? We may find out tonight. (USA Today)

Can Iowa State win without DeAndre Kane? We may find out tonight. (USA TODAY Sports)

Taylor Erickson: Brian, I’ve got to start with perhaps the biggest story line from Saturday’s action in college basketball – the status of DeAndre Kane. Early reports suggested that Kane suffered a lateral sprain and would give it a go tonight against Kansas. If Kane can’t go or isn’t at 100 percent, how big of an impact does this have on this match-up?

Brian Goodman: It’s crazy to think that before the season, no one was really sure what Kane would provide to Fred Hoiberg; but now, he’s viewed as one of the best players in college basketball and has played such an integral part of the Cyclones’ attack that his availability could tip the scales in either direction. If he can play at anywhere close to full strength, Iowa State fans will breathe a big sigh of relief because a healthy Kane can really exploit one of the biggest question marks for Kansas (the backcourt’s shaky defense). Naadir Tharpe and Wayne Selden have been terrific offensively lately, but they still have a long ways to go to satisfy Bill Self in terms of stopping players on the other end. If Kane is limited, though, look for Hoiberg to turn to Monte Morris, who isn’t the all-around threat of Kane but can create for others and score a little bit himself. It’s also worth pointing out that it’s been exactly one month since Morris committed his last turnover at home. As I mentioned earlier, there’s the matter of Kansas’ backcourt showing some defensive lapses. Regardless of whether Kane can go tonight, what do you make of the Jayhawks’ chances to contain Iowa State’s attack?

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Big 12 M5: 01.13.14 Edition

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 13th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. Across the nation, all eyes are on DeAndre Kane‘s status for tonight’s marquee match-up between Iowa State and Kansas. As of now, Kane is a gametime decision even though X-rays on his ankle turned out negative. That very few among the media thought Kane would be this big a factor when the season started is pretty telling of just how important he’s been for the Cyclones. Should ISU go down, we’re confident that Fred Hoiberg won’t let Kane’s health be an excuse, as the Cyclones will still have plenty of options if Kane can’t go. Look for a more detailed preview here later today.
  2. After a rocky start to the campaign, Kansas freshman Wayne Selden seems to be turning a corner, and a mindset of treating conference play as a new season of sorts appears to be at the heart of his increase in productivity. His performance in Saturday’s win over Kansas State was an eye opener, as he poured in 20 points to go with four rebounds and three assists. Selden’s emergence as a backcourt weapon has been a welcome storyline to a Kansas backcourt that has at times struggled to get everyone going at once.
  3. When a team loses a close game, as West Virginia did to Oklahoma State on Saturday, it can be easy to point to a possession here or there as the determining factor. Mountaineer guard Eron Harris got down on himself for trying to force a few plays down the stretch. While it’s admirable that the sophomore took responsibility, the best he can do is to put it behind him and move on to the next chance, especially as a tournament bid slips more out of reach with each passing loss.
  4. Late stops proved crucial for Oklahoma as they put an end to Iowa State’ unbeaten start on Saturday. The Sooners’ defense has left a lot to be desired, so to see it step up when it really needed to had to have been relief for head coach Lon Kruger. Saturday’s win was a big step in Oklahoma’s quest for a tournament bid, and the Sooners will look to keep it up tomorrow against a Kansas State team that has struggled offensively for most of the year.
  5. Following Kansas State‘s loss at Allen Fieldhouse over the weekend, Bruce Weber is already anxious to see how his team responds. Weber admitted that while his younger players are promising, they were rattled by the raucous crowd in Lawrence when the Jayhawks sprung a 13-3 run midway through the first half and cruised from there. For all the Weber naysayers, of which there are plenty, it’s worth pointing out that aside from Thomas Gipson, the Wildcats’ best players as of late have been those recruited by the second-year coach.
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Four Takeaways From Oklahoma Ending Iowa State’s Unbeaten Season

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 12th, 2014

Oklahoma came into its game against Iowa State with a bad taste in its mouth. The Sooners led for much of the first half against Kansas on Wednesday, but a late spurt from the Jayhawks just before halftime gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Cyclones came in as one of five teams with an undefeated record and had convincingly taken care of Baylor earlier in the week. Here are four things we learned from Iowa State’s visit to Oklahoma on Saturday.

OU's Cam Clark came into the Iowa State game leading the Big 12 in scoring. He only had 12...and the Sooners still won. (Tim Heitman/USA Today Sports)

OU’s Cam Clark came into the Iowa State game leading the Big 12 in scoring. He only had 12… and the Sooners still won. (Tim Heitman/USA TODAY Sports)

  1. Oklahoma Picked Their Poison and Chose Wisely: It’s easy to feel overwhelmed against a team like Iowa State. They can shoot, rebound, run the floor well and don’t turn the ball over much. So the game plan for Lon Kruger was to “surrender” the paint in favor of guarding the perimeter with all their might, and it worked. The Sooners, ranked 234th in Division I in two-point field goal percentage defense, according to KenPom, worked with their small lineup and allowed Melvin Ejim, Georges Niang, DeAndre Kane and Dustin Hogue to get plenty of good shots in the paint, which they made. But ISU misfired on 20-of-26 attempts from three-point land. Will other Big 12 opponents take note of this strategy? Read the rest of this entry »
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Award Tour: Doug McDermott, Steve Fisher Lead POY, COY Races

Posted by Jameson Fleming on January 10th, 2014

AwardTour

Jameson Fleming is an RTC columnist who also works for CBSSports.com as the site’s social media editor. You can follow him on Twitter @JamesonFleming.

When you scroll down in a few moments, you’ll notice Michigan State is not represented in these Player of the Year rankings. It’s not for a lack of a star player. The Spartans are arguably the best team in the country and are many pundits’ midseason pick to win the national title. The difficulty Michigan State faces when it comes to having a Player of the Year candidate is who do you pick? Adreian Payne has been the dominant force in a frontcourt that lacks a second or third dependable option. Gary Harris is arguably the team’s best defender and the best pure scorer. Keith Appling is statistically one of, if not the best, point guards in the country. As Big Ten play rolls on, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Harris emerge as the team’s top player, as he averages over 19 points per game in the Michigan State’s six toughest contest.

Player of the Year

10. Russ Smith – Louisville. Last Week: 6
2013-14 stats: 17.8 PPG, 4.8 APG, 113.4 oRTG

Russ Smith continues to fall in the rankings after a mediocre performance against Memphis. The Tigers held Smith without a field goal until late in the first half. Smith also missed a shot at a critical point in the game and committed five turnovers.

9. Casey Prather – Florida. Last Week: 9
2013-14 stats: 17 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 121.5 oRTG

Casey Prather is a Surprise NPOY Candidate This Season (msn.foxsports.com).

Casey Prather is a Surprise NPOY Candidate This Season (msn.foxsports.com).

Casey Prather’s breakout season has him contending with Julius Randle for SEC Player of the Year. In Florida’s SEC opener, Prather was an impact defender and contributed 13 points in 18 minutes. He’s scored in double-figures in every Gators’ game this season.

8.  Joseph Young – Oregon. Last Week: 8
2013-14 stats: 19.1 PPG, 1.4 SPG, 137.4 oRTG

Joseph Young is on a short leash with these rankings after he was a non-factor against Utah and struggled in Oregon’s first loss against Colorado. He contributed next to nothing besides his 25 points in two games and committed five turnovers.

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Otskey’s Observations: Episode VII

Posted by Brian Otskey on January 8th, 2014

Each week throughout the season, RTC columnist Brian Otskey (@botskey) will run down his observations from the previous week of college basketball. 

Baylor Fails To Live Up To The Hype

When I saw the national polls come out this week I was stunned to see Baylor ranked No. 7. Yes, the Bears were 12-1 heading into last night’s Big 12 opener at Iowa State, but I was surprised more pollsters were not able to see through their smoke and mirrors. I rated Baylor No. 19 in the latest RTC Top 25 and thought it was generous given its resume. Of the team’s 12 wins, just three have been quality: Two came in Dallas against Colorado and Kentucky (certainly very fine wins) and one in Maui against Dayton. In other words, Baylor had yet to beat a great team away from home and last night’s game was actually its first true road contest of the season. Scott Drew’s team didn’t exactly validate its lofty ranking after being torched in the second half at Hilton Coliseum last night. BU’s interior defense, normally a strength, was horrendous against the Cyclones, particularly in transition. It almost seems as if Baylor was unprepared for Iowa State’s up-tempo style of basketball. Baylor is not a bad team by any stretch but there just isn’t enough consistency from game to game to warrant such a high ranking. The Bears do a lot of things well and a handful of things poorly. That keeps their ceiling low, despite a ton of talent on the roster.

Kenny Chery and Baylor have some shortcomings to address

Kenny Chery and Baylor have some shortcomings to address

Iowa State is For Real, But Just How Good are the Cyclones?

Speaking of Iowa State, how about the job Fred Hoiberg has done in Ames? In only his fourth year he has made his alma mater relevant in leading it to a top 10 ranking this week. The Cyclones are legitimate and DeAndre Kane is a big reason why. The Marshall transfer is making the most of his one year in Ames as one of the country’s best all-around players. After a season-high 30 points against Baylor last night, Kane seems to be getting even better. Hoiberg really can’t ask for much more from a senior who can run the team, rebound and score efficiently. Iowa State is obviously terrific at home but I would like to see this team perform on the road against better competition before I fully buy in. Don’t get me wrong, the Cyclones are a sure fire top 20 team in my view. However, their toughest road test to date was against a 9-7 BYU team in Provo. With five of their next nine games on the road, the Cyclones will be challenged in a big way against the likes of Kansas and Oklahoma State, as well as upstarts Texas and Oklahoma. While I believe Iowa State is very good, we will know a heck of a lot more about it when the calendar flips to February.

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Big 12 M5: 01.08.14 Edition

Posted by Nate Kotisso on January 8th, 2014

morning5_big12

  1. Just how good is Iowa State? That’s the question Rob Dauster over at College Basketball Talk is asking after the Cyclones pulled away from Baylor in the second half to win the battle of top 10 teams, 87-72. DeAndre Kane had his best game on the biggest stage of the season to date: 30 points, eight rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Dauster believes the Cyclones are a very good team but not a top 10 team. His points are valid — the Michigan and BYU wins don’t have the same cachet now as they did in November, and their best wins (Iowa and Baylor) came at the impregnable Hilton Coliseum. Regardless of what anyone thinks about them, the Cyclones are now one of only five undefeated teams in college basketball along with Arizona, Syracuse, Wisconsin and Wichita State.
  2. When a team commits 18 turnovers in a conference game, it usually spells doom for the road team. Kansas State was that road team on Tuesday night and still somehow emerged with an 18-point win over TCU, 65-47. The difference for the Wildcats was winning the rebounding edge over the Horned Frogs by 16 boards. “They are not a good rebounding team,” forward Thomas Gipson said. “They play hard and everything, but we really wanted to emphasize our rebounding against them. I feel like we did a good job with that.” Now Kansas State’s winning streak is at 10 games, its longest since the Elite Eight season of 2009-10. Their buddies from Lawrence will be their next opponent on Saturday.
  3. Jerry Palm’s latest bracketology has seven Big 12 teams in the field of 68. Think about that: 70 percent of an entire conference is projected to make the NCAA Tournament. What a number, considering that the Big East’s 11 bids in 2011 accounted for 68.8 percent of that conference. According to Palm, Kansas State and Texas were selected as First Four teams headed to Dayton, Ohio. If they were picked as two of the final teams in, I wouldn’t be so sure if I’d take both. While Kansasa State has recorded its best wins (Ole Miss, Gonzaga, George Washington, and Oklahoma State) within the state of Kansas, those wins are collectively better than Texas’, which pretty much starts and ends with North Carolina in Chapel Hill. But that’s why the season doesn’t end on January 8. Who knows, maybe at season’s end the Big 12 will have seven resumes that are worthy of NCAA Tournament bids.
  4. On Monday, Kansas State’s Marcus Foster picked up Big 12 Newcomer of the Week honors, but the accolades don’t stop there. In a collaboration between the Wayman Tisdale Award and CBSSports.com, Foster has won the Wayman Tisdale National Freshman of the Week for his play against George Washington and Oklahoma State. This is certainly a breath of fresh air when you consider that the award seemed like it’d be passed around between Jabari Parker, Aaron Gordon, Tyler Ennis, Andrew Wiggins and the Kentucky freshmen. Hooray for three-star recruits!
  5. West Virginia has missed some opportunities to rack up important wins in non-league play but leading scorer Eron Harris is encouraged by the team’s 2-0 start in the Big 12. Yes, those two wins came against Texas Tech and TCU both of which have worse overall records than the Mountaineers. It doesn’t seem to make a difference to Harris. “I don’t care what team you’re playing in the Big 12, it’s a tough conference,” Harris told MetroNews. “It’s significant.” Their first non-Texas opponent will come Saturday when WVU takes on Oklahoma State in Morgantown. We’ll see if things really are different.
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Four Takeaways From Iowa State’s Win Over Baylor

Posted by Brian Goodman on January 7th, 2014

If you are just now turning your attention to college basketball, you can thank the Big 12 scheduling committee for throwing you a bone. One day after both teams moved into the top ten of the AP Poll (not ours, which as you saw tonight was more accurate), Baylor met Iowa State in Ames, with the Cyclones pulling away in the second half for a resounding 87-72 win in Hilton Coliseum. If you didn’t catch it, however, we have you covered with four key takeaways:

DeAndre Kane and the Cyclones didn't need Hilton Magic to take care of Baylor. (USA Today)

DeAndre Kane and the Cyclones didn’t need Hilton Magic to take care of Baylor. (USA Today)

  1. Welcome to the national spotlight, DeAndre Kane: The graduate transfer from Marshall has been terrific all season, but he completely outdid himself Tuesday night scoring 30 points, grabbing eight rebounds, and dishing out nine assists. Oh, he also had five steals. Kane excelled at picking his spots to drive right to the hoop, stop on a dime and pass, or pull up from three as well as regularly beating the Bears down the floor in transition. With conference play revving up in earnest, he is going to start gathering a lot of headlines, so be sure to tune in when the Cyclones hit the floor over the next two months. Read the rest of this entry »
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