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Big 12 Title Race: Kansas Drops Out of First Place

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Texas Tech looks to end the Jayhawks’ streak.

NCAA Basketball: Kansas at Baylor Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start out with the obvious: That was a disappointing performance by the Jayhawks on Saturday. Kansas couldn’t shoot, was careless with the ball, and couldn’t stay out of foul trouble.

The funk the team is in right now cost the Jayhawks the lead in the Big 12, at least for the moment. And while there are plenty of negatives to point out, let’s focus on the positives.

Both West Virginia and Oklahoma lost on Saturday, meaning Kansas is in sole possession of second place. OU’s (6-6) loss removes another serious competitor from the list and basically makes this a three-team race (Texas Tech 9-3, Kansas 8-4, and West Virginia 7-5). Svi and the rest of the team are in quite the slump shooting from 3, this team’s best offensive trait, and you have to think this team is too good for that to continue long-term. Finally, we’ll get to this in more detail later, but Texas Tech has one of the toughest remaining schedules in the conference.

So it’s been a rough few weeks, but it’s not over yet.

KU’s Place in the Standings: Second

The biggest takeaway from the past two Saturday losses: No more early afternoon games on CBS. Nothing good has come from those. In all seriousness, Kansas hasn’t shot better than 36% from three since the Kansas State game and shot 19% on Saturday. Svi’s black eye surely caused his poor shooting, even if he says otherwise. But I’m sticking with the sample size of the season (39% from 3-point range on the season and 37% in conference play) saying this team will get back on track offensively.

The bigger question comes on the defensive end, and whether this team can rebound and guard the perimeter. We’ll find out as soon as Tuesday when Kansas travels to Ames.

Biggest Competitor: Texas Tech

Who else could it be but the team currently in the best position to end the streak? Texas Tech had two decisive victories in the past week and hasn’t lost since Jan. 20. The Red Raiders are on an impressive run that’s about to be tested. Tech hits the road Tuesday, traveling to face an Oklahoma team that has lost three in a row but doesn’t lose many at home and still has the frontrunner for national player if the year.

After that, the Red Raiders’ remaining schedule looks like this: at Baylor, at Oklahoma State, home against Kansas, at West Virginia, home against TCU. If Tech makes it through that gauntlet without another loss or two, the Red Raiders will have earned their title.

Game of the Week: West Virginia at Kansas on Saturday

A case could be made for Texas Tech at Oklahoma, but for Kansas to win title No. 14, it has to win at home. College Gameday will be on site and Cole Aldrich’s number will be retired at halftime. The atmosphere should be as strong inside Allen Fieldhouse as it will have been all year, and a win not only keeps Kansas in the race, but puts another game’s distance between the Jayhawks and Mountaineers.

Streak Threat Level: Medium – Time is Running Out

A lot of Kansas fans’ eyes will be on Texas Tech games the remainder of the season. But the Jayhawks have to take care of their own business and right the ship. Win out, and a share of the title is the minimum outcome. Kansas can theoretically drop one more game and still clinch a share, but winning out leaves no doubt. The issue is that with just six games remaining, the margin for error and number of opportunities to get back on track has become slim.