Note from the publisher: Austin Narber is our newest contributor at CycloneFanatic.com. From now until the end of the season, Austin will provide this basketball fan’s weekend viewing guide for you Cyclone Fanatic’s. It’s less about the Cyclones and more about everything else going on in the world of college hoops. You can read more of Austin’s work over at Permanent Redshirt.
We can all agree it will be near impossible for this weekend to top what transpired in Stillwater on Monday night. But if there’s anything you can count on, it’s that some of the best college basketball is played during the final month of the regular season. The home stretch, the three-quarter pole — whatever you’d like to call it — lies ahead, and it kicks off with a nice slate of Big 12 games on Saturday. Perhaps there’s a quadruple overtime thriller in the works…
Big 12 Game of the Weekend: (15) Texas at Kansas State (12:30 p.m., Big 12 Network)
Texas rides the nation’s most talked about seven-game win streak into Manhattan, boasting a 5-1 true road record on the season. It was ugly on Tuesday, as the Longhorns escaped with a 59-54 victory at TCU, sans point guard Javan Felix (concussion). They’ll get a Kansas State team which, while perfect at home since their season-opening loss to Northern Colorado, has lost three of four after starting 4-1 in conference play. The Wildcats have had a week off since losing at West Virginia, which may prove to be key in preparing for a formidable group of big men for Texas. At 6-foot-9, D.J. Johnson (13.9 minutes off the bench) is K-State’s only player taller than 6’7. With Felix’s status still up in the air, look for the Longhorns (fourth nationally in blocks) to capitalize in the post game with Cameron Ridley, Jonathan Holmes, Prince Ibeh and Connor Lammert. A loss would mildly affect Texas’ place in the Big 12 standings, but on the flip side this is as important as it gets for the Wildcats, with a drop to 5-5 and 8th place forthcoming if they fail to protect their home floor.
Big 12 Sneaky Good Game of the Week: (19) Oklahoma State at Texas Tech (8:30 p.m., ESPNU)
According to kenpom.com, Texas Tech isn’t going to win another game the rest of the season. That may or may not be true, but it appears — with Oklahoma, Iowa State and Kansas also looming ahead on the schedule — this might be the Red Raiders’ best chance for a while. Oklahoma State’s recent struggles are certainly well-documented, after dropping four of five (the last one in dramatically delicious fashion). The losses of Stevie Clark and Michael Cobbins have proven to be damaging, and this could be just the kind of "kick them while they’re down" game that benefits Texas Tech, especially on their home floor. The Raiders are 2-3 in Lubbock in conference play this season, a near overtime victory over West Virginia from 3-2. Fourth-year man Jaye Crockett might be the most talented player on the floor not named Smart or Nash. He’s been in double-digits in all but three games this season. Additionally, it will be interesting to see how the Cowboys plan to deal with seven-footer Dejan Kravic. At 6-foot-8, Kamari Murphy is going to have his work cut out with Kravic down low. Look for this one to be a barn-burner with a lot of perimeter shooting. Texas Tech has a much better offense than most give them credit for.
Others Around the Country
(10) Michigan at (17) Iowa | Saturday, 1 p.m., ESPN: The Hawkeyes haven’t won in Iowa City since Jan. 19 and need to stop the bleeding now. It’s difficult to tell what the implications might be, as the Big Ten is a complete and utter enigma, but this one is easily the game of the week nationally. Iowa will be out to avenge last month’s eight-point loss to the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. Any match-up of offenses as efficient as these two has to be one to clear your schedule for. Roy Devyn Marble and Nik Stauskas are an absolute delight to watch.
(7) Cincinnati at SMU | 6:30 p.m., ESPNU: To clear up any confusion, this is an American Athletic Conference game between two really good teams that no one seems to be talking about. Larry Brown’s Mustangs are primed to get over the hump and into the Top 25 with a win, and the Bearcats (22-2, 11-0) have been an unstoppable force of late. First to 60 points might win it, but these are two squads loaded with talent (pay close attention to Sean Kilpatrick) that should make even a defensive battle fun to watch.
(4) Wichita State at Northern Iowa | 8:00 p.m., ESPN2: It’s hard to think of a bigger game that’s ever been played at the McLeod Center, and it doesn’t need much setting up. The Shockers are perfect, but UNI has had this one circled for a long, long time. Is this one of Ben Jacobsen’s stronger teams? Absolutely not. But they probably should have beaten Iowa State in Des Moines and have proven in the past that peskiness and a smart, efficient offense can win basketball games. Nice to see the Panthers getting some ESPN love, too. This has all the ingredients to be a good one and may be the final hurdle for Wichita State to clear en route to an undefeated season. Cleanthony Early vs. Seth Tuttle will be the matchup of the night.