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Big 12 Notebook

February 26, 2003 Conference Notes No Comments



Big 12 Conference Notebook

by Mitch Schneider

No SuRPrIse here

In the latest RPI poll, two Big 12 squads sit atop the entire 318-team list.

Oklahoma (19-4) and Texas (18-5) occupy the No. 1 and 2 positions, respectively, giving whole new meaning to the Red River Rivalry.

The Sooners grabbed the top spot a week after beating Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas in succession. Kelvin Samson’s bunch has won nine of ten, and is now tied with the Jayhawks for first place in the Big 12 standings (10-2).

The Longhorns, who owned the top spot in the last RPI poll, had won four straight before falling to Oklahoma State, 82-77, last Saturday. Despite its loss over the weekend, Texas (9-3) is the last team to have defeated the Sooners, and is only a game behind Oklahoma and Kansas in the conference standings.

While OU and Texas are all but assured a spot in the upcoming NCAA Tournament, both schools are fighting for No. 1 seeds. Their high positions in the RPI poll will certainly help their causes, though the RPI is one of only a number of factors the Tournament Committee looks at to determine its top seeds (strength of schedule, road record, quality wins, etc.).

Unfortunately for fans in Austin, the NCAA Committee doesn’t acknowledge the “party school factor.”

Who’s hot, who’s not

Sorry to drag up this old sports cliche, but a number of Big 12 teams have been hot or cold as of late. With the conference season winding down and Selection Sunday only weeks away, here’s a quick look at some of the teams that are presently on fire, or in dire need of a warm blanket.

Hot

Oklahoma and Texas: As mentioned before, these two teams are sitting pretty in both the RPI and conference standings, and both have enjoyed a top ten ranking for the majority of the 2003 season. Oklahoma and Texas will likely sweep the rest of their remaining schedules, that is, until they face each other in Norman (Mar. 8) the last regular-season game this year.

Texas Tech: Just when you thought Bob Knight’s Red Raiders (16-8) were down for the ten count, Texas Tech does the unthinkable and pulls off a season-saving, 62-57, win at Oklahoma State. This huge road victory gives Tech new life in the race to get an at-large bid for the NCAA Tourney, while giving the Red Raiders some much needed momentum heading down the home stretch of the Big 12 season.

Colorado: The Buffs’ 21-point victory over Missouri last Saturday means CU has now beaten three ranked opponents (Kansas, Texas) by an average of almost 12 points per game. Colorado (16-9) has won ten straight at home, tying a school record, and is just two victories shy of reaching the 18-win mark for just the ninth time in 100 seasons of basketball.

Not

Oklahoma State: After leading the nation with a 15-game winning streak, the Cowboys have dropped five of their last eight, including an embarrassing 74-72 loss to Baylor. O-kie State did manage to knock off Texas last weekend, but are clearly in trouble following its impressive run earlier this year.

Missouri: Missouri, once a fairly solid lock to receive at an-large bid for March Madness, has fallen on hard times. After getting slammed by Colorado last Saturday, the Tigers have fallen out of the national rankings, having gone just 2-2 in their last four outings. To make matters worse for Quin Snyder’s crew, Mizzou still has to play Oklahoma and Kansas this season.

Nebraska: The Huskers have dropped nine straight, are last in the Big 12 standings (1-11), and find themselves behind Drexel, Mercer and Ball State in the latest RPI poll (with all due respect to those three schools). During Nebraska’s recent fall, NU has lost each game by an average of 15.2 points, and has yet to post a road win in 2003.

Nothing like that Rocky Mountain Bl-air

Colorado swingman Blair Wilson is coming off one heckuva week.

After posting his first career double-double at Kansas (21 points, 10 rebounds), the junior poured in a career-high 26 points three nights later against Missouri.

Against the Tigers, Wilson knocked down six three-pointers to go along with his five boards and four steals, and has now converted 12 of 22 (55%) shots behind the arc in CU’s last three games.

For his recent efforts, Wilson was named Big 12 Player of the Week.

Presently, the Colorado-native is a leading candidate to take home the conference’s Most Improved Player award, as he is averaging 13.8 points and 3.4 rebounds per game. Wilson has also been deadly from downtown, having hit at least one trey in 38 of his last 40 games.

The Blair Wilson Project: now playing at selected arenas across the Big 12.

Intriguing match-ups of the week:

Wednesday, February 26 – Oklahoma at Missouri
Saturday, March 1 – Oklahoma State at Kansas
Monday, March 3 – Kansas at Texas Tech

     

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