February 25 is the next big date on the Big 12 schedule.  That's when the Kansas Jayhawks and Missouri Tigers will meet at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, presumably with the No. 1 seed for the postseason conference tournament on the line.

That is, of course, assuming the Jayhawks and Tigers avoid a slipup between now and that showdown in Kansas.  Up next for the Jayhawks is just that potential with Bill Self and KU trekking to the Little Apple on Monday night for a matchup with in-state rival Kansas StateKansas' trip to Bramlage Coliseum last Valentine's Day came as the No. 1 team in the country, but Rock Chalk left with a loss to an unranked Wildcats that had been struggling, including a blowout loss to the Jayhawks on their home floor earlier in the season. 

Sound familiar?  Three hundred and sixty-four days later, this meeting shares eerie similarities.  Kansas isn't ranked No. 1, but should be up around fifth or sixth in the polls set to come out a few hours before this 9 PM (ET) tip on ESPN. Once again, Kansas State is struggling and will enter the game unranked and as home underdogs.  The overnight college basketball lines made the Jayhawks 3 point favorites with 137 for the total

The Big 12 was supposed to be a three team race this season, but Kansas and Missouri have each already beaten Baylor (Baylor play Iowa State tonight) twice to turn the conference into a two team tussle.  There should be a top regional seed available to either the Jayhawks or Tigers when Selection Sunday arrives in a month, but only if the eventual Big 12 winner can avoid falling in an upset along the way.

Losing on the road as 3 point chalk might not sound like it would be that big of an upset, but it would be, even more so than when Kansas was No. 1 and a 6 point favorite last Valentine's before being schooled by the Wildcats, 84-68.  In fact, it's been a big upset anytime the Jayhawks fall to K-State in this series.  Kansas has won 43 of the last 46 meetings, and 22 of 24 played at Bramlage Coliseum which has sometimes been called Phog Allen Fieldhouse West. 

Thomas RobinsonBill Self once again brings his Jayhawks into this game having already smoked the Wildcats in an earlier meeting at Lawrence; Kansas scored a 67-49 win over the Wildcats on Jan. 4 when the NCAA basketball odds closed Jayhawks -9.5. Last season, KU walloped K-State 90-66 as a 10 point home favorite before the rematch in Manhattan

The Jayhawks dominated the glass in the January win, doubling up the Wildcats in the rebound column, 48-24.  Seventeen of those boards came on the offensive end to give Kansas early second chances while building a 15 point halftime lead.  The extra effort pulling down missed shots went a long way to making up for 19 KU turnovers, eight by Tyshawn Taylor. 

Travis Releford (16 points, 11 rebounds) and Thomas Robinson (15 & 14) were the boxscore stars for the Jayhawks with their double-doubles.  But another key part of that contest was Jeff Withey's six blocks.  The seven-foot junior had a horrible game in a loss at Missouri a little more than week ago when he netted a big fat goose egg on the scoreboard in 23 totally ineffective minutes.  Withey bounced back in a big way this past week with two incredible performances, first a career high 25 in the 68-54 win at Baylor before an 18 point, 20 rebound, 7 block showing in last Saturday's 81-66 victory over Oklahoma State. 

While Withey was busy putting on a show against the Cowboys, Kansas State was laying an egg down in Austin to the young Longhorns.   Four point underdogs to Texas, the Wildcats slowly watched a 40-27 halftime lead disappear at the foul line where the 'Horns outscored Kansas State 35-8.  The Wildcats never even attempted a free throw in the second half, but Frank Martin never even mentioned the foul shot discrepancy after that game. 

What he did mention was Texas simply gave his club a beating and his guys never fought back.  That was very similar to the first meeting this season between Martin's Wildcats and Self's Jayhawks, when KU controlled the fight by outmuscling K-State inside. 

Taking a Chance: Martin has been starting two freshman lately, which can be a problem for any club other than Kentucky where John Calipari seems to be able to recruit a top 10 lineup of rookies year after year.  Forward Thomas Gipson, who was completely off his game Saturday at Texas, has been in the mix most of the season while Angel Rodriguez has only recently been starting games at point guard. Another guy who has often played like a freshman lately is senior Jamar Samuels. 

The Wildcats' inconsistency plus Withey really elevating his play to give KU a huge edge on the inside is why the Jayhawks are the play in this one.  My pick is Kansas -3.