Thursday, January 31, 2008

Big XII Weekend Capsule: Week 4, Part 1

A wild Wednesday was the big story, as Kansas State jumped to the front of the Big XII with their upset win over #2 Kansas. Texas A&M also thrust itself back into the mix in the conference with a trouncing of the #10 Longhorns on their home floor. A few teams have fallen out of the conference race, but eight teams still remain in the thick of the conference race.

#22 Kansas State (15-4) (5-0) at Missouri (12-9) (2-4)

- With two games against Missouri and Nebraska, and one each against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, 11-0 in conference can be classified as definite possibility as opposed to good possibility. The win against the Jayhawks turns Kansas State into a team with the confidence to make a run during March. They also are a team I don't think anyone wants to see during March. If point guard, Jacob Pullen's 20 point outburst is a sign of maturity out of the freshman, then the Wildcats suddenly become a very dangerous team. Lost in all of the excitement of Wednesday night was Missouri's loss at home to Nebraska. It was confirmation that Missouri will have a slow and painful fall to the bottom of the Big XII. And this season will be hard to watch for Tigers fans.

Prediction: #22 Kansas State 87, Missouri 73

#25 Baylor (16-3) (4-1) at #10 Texas (16-4) (3-2)

- Both teams come off a game where their weak interior defense was exposed. Baylor had a week to think about their home loss to Oklahoma at the hands of the Griffin brothers, and a week to get ready to take on the Texas Longhorns. This game is full of intreaguing matchups as Damion James will face off against Kevin Rogers, DJ Augustin against Aaron Bruce, and Curtis Jerrells will try and stop AJ Abrams on one end, and score against Justin Mason on the other end. Baylor relies on their guard play to win games, and Curtis Jerrells has emerged as the go to player for the Bears. The Austin product has come close to beating the school that spurned him each of the last two years, and they have the talent this year to finish the job. The Longhorns come off an embarrasing defeat against the Aggies in College Station. Texas needs Damion James to reassert himself offensively and exploit mismatch problems against the Bears. The only positive out of the Texas A&M might be the play of Dexter Pittman, as the sophomore scored 14 points and pulled down 7 rebounds. Time will tell however, whether it was one game or a turning point.

Prediction: #10 Texas 75, #25 Baylor 74

Oklahoma State (10-10) (1-5) at Texas Tech (11-8) (2-3)

- Oklahoma State has managed to lose five straight in conference, most in close games. Their one win came against the Red Raiders in Stillwater. They have been able to play with anyone during the streak, but haven't been able to get over the hump late in close games. James Anderson has played well, but the Cowboys have relied too much on the outside shot. Terrell Harris needs to find his confidence and Ibrahim Thomas needs to find a way to stay on the court if this team is going to be successful. Texas Tech is winless on the road in conference and unbeaten at home. Lucky for them, they get to try for redemption in the rematch against Oklahoma State in the tropical oasis of Lubbock*. Martin Zeno has to play well for this team to win as he opens up everyone else on the floor. Freshman guard John Roberson continues to improve each game, and is a huge boost for the Red Raiders when he is playing confidently on his home floor.

Prediction: Texas Tech 64, Oklahoma State 57

Last Week: 5-1
Overall: 14-4

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