A conference race that was up for grabs all season now has some clarity. A 74-72 road win against Texas Tech gave Kansas both revenge and at least a share of the Big 12 Title for the 14th straight year. The Jayhawks accomplished history with two games remaining in the regular season: one of those games being senior night against Texas tonight, before ending the season at Oklahoma State Saturday.
As we enter the final week of the regular season, the only question remaining is if Kansas will win the league outright. Win one of two, and the title is the Jayhawks’ and theirs alone. For the final time this season, let’s take a look at Kansas’ standing in the Big 12 race.
KU’s Place in the Standings: First
Two weeks ago, Kansas was 8-4 in the league and in second place coming off a tough road loss to Baylor. Fast forward and the Jayhawks haven’t lost since—including two wins against ranked teams—now sitting at 12-4 and holding a two-game lead over Texas Tech and West Virginia (10-6). One of those two teams will be eliminated from contention on Monday as the Red Raiders travel to Morgantown in a battle for second place.
Biggest Competitor: Themselves
The answer could be the winner of the Texas Tech-West Virginia game, but I went with Kansas for a simple reason: The Jayhawks are in charge of their own destiny. Regardless if the Red Raiders or Mountaineers win out, as long as the Jayhawks take care of business and win at least one of their final two games, Kansas will be the outright champs. It would take dropping another game in Allen Fieldhouse on Devonte’ and Svi’s senior night, and then losing in Stillwater—causing Bill Self to be swept by a Big 12 opponent for the first time—for another team to even have a shot at a piece of the title. The only way Kansas shares is if it gets in its own way.
Game of the Week: Texas Tech at West Virginia
Given my reasoning above, I could have selected Texas at Kansas as the game of the week as it could allow KU to keep the crown for itself. But Tech against West Virginia is the more interesting game in terms of implications for postseason play. The winner of this one is in strong position to take second place in the conference, and the two seed in the Big 12 Tournament. Texas Tech is also on a three-game losing streak, and a win against a ranked team can help Tech maintain a top-four seed in the NCAA Tournament.
Streak Threat Level: Nonexistent
History has been made, and Kansas already had an opportunity to celebrate with the Big 12 championship trophy. So the doubting and asking if this is the year will have to wait until January 2019. Kansas’ motivation can now shift to getting Svi and Devonte’ a final win in Allen Fieldhouse on senior night, and then look ahead to the NCAA Tournament and maintaining its position as a one seed.