The Big 12 race is coming down to the wire with three games left in the regular season, and the Oklahoma State Cowboys still have designs on being the No. 1 seed for the conference tournament scheduled to begin less than two weeks from now in Kansas City.
Oklahoma State need some help for that to happen, but the most important business at hand for the Cowboys is winning their remaining three games to have a shot. The first of those three takes place Saturday in Stillwater against the Texas Longhorns; ESPN will broadcast the tip at Gallagher-Iba Arena a little past 4 PM (ET), part of a full-day of games on the network involving ranked programs.
The overnight college basketball odds listed the Cowboys as consensus 12-point favorites to win their 12th conference tilt and 22nd on the season. Early totals put the scoreboard hurdle at 127, but that was quickly bet up to 129.
Depending which rankings one gives the most weight, OSU is anywhere from ninth to 28th in national polls and indexes. The writers and Ken Pomeroy both have the Cowboys 15th, while the coaches list them at No. 18. It leaves Travis Ford's crew as a solid 5-seed currently for the NCAA Tournament set to get underway in a few weeks, with a No. 3 within reach assuming a perfect end to the schedule plus a strong showing in KC just prior to Selection Sunday.
Cowboys Seek First Season Sweep Of Texas In Nine Seasons
The Cowboys will be shooting for their third straight win, a streak that could be at 10-straight going into Saturday's tilt if not for a tough loss to Kansas in double overtime on this floor two weeks ago. Both wins since that setback have been covers for their backers, and the last three have failed to reach the total.
Oklahoma State made a short road trip to Ft. Worth for its most recent triumph, a 64-47 decision over TCU on Wednesday. The Cowboys were favored by 14 and took that advantage into the locker room, then wrapped the game and cover up in the first 5+ minutes of the second half when they held the Horned Frogs scoreless to take a commanding 20-point lead.
The only OSU player to score in double digits was La'Bryan Nash who netted a career-best 28, splitting it down the middle with 14 each half. The two usual suspects, Markel Brown and Marcus Smart, were limited to 16 points between them after entering the contest averaging nearly twice that many. Brown just needs 12 more points to reach 1,000 for his career, and the junior should continue climbing up those ranks with another year still to go. Wednesday's tilt was only the third time this season Brown was held under 11 points.
'Horns Eye Revenge For Earlier Loss In Austin
Oklahoma State has a shot to sweep the Longhorns for the first time in nine seasons after beating Texas in Austin three Saturdays ago. Favored by four, Brown and Smart combined for 40 points to lead the Cowboys to an easy 72-59 victory. Neither team shot particularly well that afternoon, but OSU dominated the glass and the freshman Smart helped make up for his seven turnovers with five steals.
The Longhorns are a different team since that defeat, however, after seeing their biggest offensive weapon finally fulfill his NCAA suspension. Myck Kabongo missed Texas' first 23 games while the 'Horns struggled to a 10-13 mark, and they have posted three wins in five games with their star sophomore on the floor. The 6-1 guard out of Toronto came up big in Wednesday's 92-86 overtime win at home over Oklahoma, posting a career-high 31 to help rally the Longhorns from a 15-point first half deficit.
Texas has controlled this series all-time, and especially during Big 12 play with a 26-13 record, but the Longhorns own just one conference road dubya this season (at TCU). I'm inclined to take Texas and the points, but feel better about the total. My NCAAB pick on Saturday will be OVER.
NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas-Oklahoma State Over 129 at Bookmaker
Season Record: 38-33 ($1.70)