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Big 12 Title Race: Kansas Controls Destiny to Conference Title

Jayhawks four wins away from No. 14

NCAA Basketball: West Virginia at Kansas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Another wild Saturday in the Big 12 could have played out very differently. Kansas trailed West Virginia by double digits midway through the second half, while Texas Tech had multiple opportunities to tie or take the lead in the final minute against Baylor.

Kansas rallied and Baylor’s defense held, and because of it, we’ve been given this: a tie for first between Kansas and Tech with the two teams meeting Saturday to help decide the outcome of the conference race.

Make sure you have popcorn ready, because this week should be fun.

KU’s Place in the Standings: Tied for First

It’s been an unusual season for Kansas, not only in terms of the roster structure and style of play, but in the way the season has played out. Yet the Jayhawks find themselves at 10-4 and with consecutive title No. 14 still in sight. Kansas can control its destiny with four games remaining, starting with hosting Oklahoma on Monday.

Biggest Competitor: Texas Tech

West Virginia and Kansas State are still alive at 8-6, but a lot would have to happen for those two to clinch even a share of the title. The logjam that clogged the top of the standings in January seems like a lifetime ago, and now we have reached a two-team race heading down the final stretch.

The biggest concern for Texas Tech has to be the health of point guard Keenan Evans. The school did not announce an update as of the time of writing, so it’s unclear the seriousness of the toe injury that sidelined him for the second half against Baylor. Evans is an all-conference player who is the engine of Tech’s offense. If he has to miss significant time, that greatly threatens the Red Raiders’ chances of dethroning Kansas.

Thankfully for Tech, the Red Raiders don’t play again until Wednesday when they travel to Oklahoma State, giving the team some time to evaluate. But Texas Tech’s remaining schedule is difficult enough without having to face it without its best player. After Oklahoma State comes the long-awaited rematch with Kansas, then the Red Raiders head to West Virginia and end the season at home against TCU.

Game of the Week: Kansas at Texas Tech on Saturday

Kansas has to take care of business at home against Oklahoma on Monday, which is a big game in its own right. But the rematch in Lubbock has to be the answer. Even if the Jayhawks stumble again against OU, OSU, or Texas, a win against the Red Raiders still offers the team a chance at a share of the title. Needless to say, there’s going to be a lot of eyes glued to ESPN on Saturday.

Streak Threat Level: Mild — Is History on KU’s Side?

Jesse Newell of the KC Star tweeted out an interesting stat on Sunday: No Big 12 team has swept Kansas during the regular season in Bill Self’s tenure as head coach. Three of Kansas’ remaining four games are against teams that have beaten the Jayhawks already this year (Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State).

If history continues and Bill Self once again takes revenge on opponents who get the better of Kansas once, the Jayhawks will win at least a share of the Big 12 championship. Kansas in a better spot than it was a week ago, and we’ll have an even clearer picture of how this all will play out next week at this time.