Courtesy of Kansas State's depressing loss in Lincoln against the Nebraska Cornhuskers, our ability to win the conference championship is almost entirely up in our hands. Only Texas, who we do not play again, stands in the way of us and a 51st conference championship. The Longhorns and, of course, our five remaining conference games.
And while the team in Austin, who is playing better than anybody in the country as I type this, has its own destiny in its hands, we can force the issue with a 5-0 finish in our remaining games.
Three of them are on the road, away from the friendly confines of Allen Field House, while two of them are at home. Here they all are, the final five 'steps', if you will, standing between us and an all-time awesome 51st conference championship.
While the Cowboys have struggled all season long, struggling to maintain a .500 winning percentage and only just winning their first road game of the season (of Sean Sutton's career, even, as the head honcho of the Cowboys) last Saturday at A&M. Of course, as I just mentioned, they did beat the Aggies in Reed Arena this past Saturday, and get an entire week of rest just like our Jayhawks.
Ken Pomeroy gives us a 90% chance of winning in Stillwater, a place that has been an incredibly difficult place for both the Kansas Jayhawks, recently, and former Cowboy Bill Self, forever. Self is 3-5 against the Pokes all time, but all three of those wins came recently with Kansas, with a 3-2 record as the Jayhawks head man and an 0-3 record as anyone else's coach.
All in all, I will side with the 90% and KenPom, and the better basketball team. And the better coach. So, basically I am predicting against a pretty big upset. The limb I am going out on is pretty darn thick.
The Cyclones played decent in the first half the first time we matched up, in Allen Field House, keeping it close before a really nice second half run spurted the Hawks ahead for good. And, that was the longest sentence of all-time. But, while we finally were able to comfortably pull away from the Clone at home, a trip up to Hilton Coliseum, the hardest place in the entire world, essentially, as far as the Jayhawks are concerned. And yet again, a run-on sentence. Something about these stupid Cyclones brings out these long ass sentences, thoughts that never seem to end while the words continue to pile up endlessly, allowing for less and less to fit into the confines of a paragraph. And, there we go again.
But these long, run-on, drawn-out sentences serve a purpose, believe it or not. The Cyclones are a team that could, incredibly easily, lull us to sleep before a hot shooting night by Wesley Johnson or Craig Brackins provides the final, suffocating, pillow-on-the-face blow. So while I don't think that we will lose in the incredibly hostile confines of Hilton Coliseum, I am predicting an equally frightening nail-biter as last year's 68-64 escape up in Ames. Oh, and by the way, Pomeroy says our chances in Ames are greater than those in Stillwater, 95% compared to 90%. So, while Pomeroy is effectively stating a loss in Ames would be a bigger surprise than one in Stillwater, I completely disagree. A loss on Saturday would largely shock me, while a step back Wednesday night would be much more reasonable, if you only consider recent history and such. I hate Ames.
There is so much to say about this game, there is effectively nothing to fit into a tiny little blurb. Let me just put it this way, I absolutely, 100%, without-a-doubt, guarantee and promise that we win on March 1st, the first chance for home revenge after a road disappointment in Manhattan since well before I was born. So, let's just say that this game will receive more than enough blogspace once we get to the point, but for now let's table it. So much at stake, and so much that I just guaranteed.
In case anyone, at all, was interested, KenPom thinks we have an 83% chance of winning the game against the Powercats, his 6th ranked team.
The final Big Monday of the season involves Kansas, one of the four times this season that the Jayhawks will be one of the two teams featured on ESPN following a Big East game that always runs late. And, considering there are only eight total slots available over the course of the year, the fact that we are there in half of them showcases our traditional domination of the conference. Of course, that is changing with the emergence of Texas, an emergence that doesn't figure to fade away any time soon, and the potential dynasties being built in College Station, Waco and (gulp) even Manhattan.
Pat Knight will be looking to pick up his first marquee win of his short collegiate coaching career, after taking over a handful of games ago following his dad's impromptu retirement, and a win in Allen Field House, a place his dad historically struggled, over a Top 5 Kansas team would be a mighty fine way to start out a career. Unfortunately, it ain't going to quite work out this season, sorry. Pomeroy gives us a almost-lead-pipe-lock 97% chance of winning the game, and I certainly think we make it past the Red Raiders without dropping a game at home.
Originally thought of as our toughest game of the season, at least to me, that status was maintained as KU grad, former KU guard and ex-Wichita State head honcho Mark Tugeron and his teams' 15-1 start. Then, the Aggies proceeded to plummet to the bottom of the Big 12 standings, almost. And while the Ags eventually righted the ship and are well on their way to the Field of 65, the game has become a small fraction of what it could have potentially become.
While originally thought that to be a determining factor in the conference race, it is now mostly a seeding-war between two NCAA Tournament-bound teams, along with the first meeting between Mark Turgeon and the Kansas Jayhawks. So, instead of heavy conference championship implications, it simply provides a chance for former Jayhawk Turgeon to take on Kansas. Pomeroy gives us a low 74% chance of winning, a figure I expect us to uphold with a solid, road victory in Aggieland.
Nothing all that insightful in there, just a quick look-see of what we have standing between us and a 30-2 (14-2) regular season and an almost guaranteed #1 seed, and forcing the Longhorns to win out to win the conference title.
Again, another run-on sentence...