Race for second in Big 12 is heating up for K-State, others

03/03/2014 2:00 PM

03/03/2014 2:13 PM

As the Big 12 season enters its final week, and Kansas State prepares to play at Oklahoma State Monday night, the most fascinating race is for second place.

K-State, Iowa State, Texas and Oklahoma are all tied with 10 conference victories. All four teams have two games remaining, and all four teams could finish second as easily as they could finish fifth.

A breakdown:

Kansas State Wildcats

Remaining Games:

at Oklahoma State, vs. Baylor.

Why they could finish second:

The Wildcats won their last road game and have already beaten Oklahoma State this season. Winning in Stillwater, though difficult, is hardly impossible. And they should be favored against Baylor at home, where they have won 15 straight. K-State also benefits from tie-breakers, by virtue of its victory over Kansas. Texas also beat the Jayhawks, but it is hurt by losing twice to Oklahoma. That could come in handy when its time to seed the Big 12 Tournament.

Why they could finish fifth:

Oklahoma State has been on a roll since Marcus Smart returned from his three-game suspension, and K-State is 2-6 on the road. There’s a reason the Cowboys are favored by 8.5 points in Stillwater. Baylor has also been playing well since it downed K-State in Waco. Beating the Bears at Bramlage Coliseum isn’t a given. The Wildcats face arguably the toughest schedule of this four-team group.

Iowa State Cyclones

Remaining games:

at Baylor, vs. Oklahoma State.

Why they could finish second:

The Cyclones have already beaten the two teams left on their schedule. If they knock off Baylor in Waco, they will be heavy favorites against Oklahoma State on senior day.

Why they could finish fifth:

As good as Melvin Ejim and Georges Niang are, they form an undersized front court. That could make for a difficult matchup against Baylor, which has plenty of size inside. And Oklahoma State will be desperate for a victory to improve their NCAA Tournament resume at Hilton Coliseum. Iowa State could lose its final two games.

Oklahoma Sooners

Remaining games:

vs. West Virginia, at TCU.

Why they could finish second:

Oklahoma just got done destroying Kansas State and Texas in Norman. If the Sooners continue to play that well at home, West Virginia will be no match for them. Then, the final game is practically a gimme at TCU. Oklahoma will be heavily favored in its final two games.

Why they could finish fifth:

Oklahoma lost at home to Texas Tech last month, so it’s conceivable West Virginia could mount a challenge. It’s also possible TCU is so desperate to avoid an 0-18 conference record that it plays well and pushes Oklahoma in Fort Worth.

Texas Longhorns

Remaining games:

vs. TCU, at Texas Tech.

Why they could finish second:

The Longhorns face the softest remaining schedule of this group. They should have no trouble with TCU at home, and Texas Tech has lost five straight. If Texas doesn’t finish Big 12 play 12-6, it will be a surprise.

Why they could finish fifth: Texas has the look of a team that has already peaked and is on the way down. It could face some problems in Lubbock, where Texas Tech is no pushover. Texas also has no tie-breakers.

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