Kansas travels to Stillwater for its regular season finale with not much to play for. A 1 seed probably isn’t terribly important this year with how many similar teams are on the 3, 4, and 5 lines, and of course the 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament is all wrapped up.
Oklahoma State, meanwhile, sits fairly far off the bubble, but another win against Kansas could get them at least into the conversation. In the first matchup, Oklahoma State took advantage of a Kansas team that frankly expected to win with minimal effort, and while the Jayhawks made a run in the second half, the Cowboys killed them on the offensive glass so badly that it was impossible to come back from.
The Cowboys aren’t a great offensive rebounding team, but I think it’s mostly by choice. They rank 39th nationally and 5th in the Big 12, but have turned it on in games that require it. Kansas has been better at first shot defense as of late, but it’s hard to see them keeping the Cowboys off the glass if they really want rebounds. They’ll need to score that way, because they are 8th in turnover percentage, 6th in 3-point shooting, and 8th in 2-point shooting. Unless they have a repeat of their 12-27 effort from three, it’s tough to see Oklahoma State having enough offense to win, but the rebounding obviously helps.
Defensively, OSU ranks 9th in the league, allowing 1.12 points per trip in Big 12 play. Kansas scored above that in the first matchup, and that was without having a hot shooting day from three. OSU has maybe gotten a bit unlucky from three, as teams shoot 41 percent from deep despite the Cowboys mostly limiting good looks. However, the Cowboys don’t have the size inside to handle Udoka Azubuike, so expect a good day from the big man.
Players to Watch
Cameron McGriff, 6-7 sophomore forward
McGriff had a career high 20 points in the first matchup, and he currently leads the conference in free throw rate. He also shoots 86 percent from the line. He’s a decent offensive rebounder as well.
Jeffrey Carroll, 6-6 senior wing
As predicted, his numbers have taken a dip without Jawun Evans, but he’s still one of the main guys Kansas needs to keep an eye out for. He’s not great at creating his own shot, but he’s still a good catch and shoot guy when open.
Keys to the Game
- Rebounding - I harped on it a lot in the intro, but if Kansas keeps the Cowboys off the glass, it’s tough seeing them having enough offense to win
- Fouls - Mostly where Azubuike is concerned. Oklahoma State has no one playing 15 mpg who is over 6-9, so this could be a huge game for the big guy
- Effort - Kansas didn’t bring it in the first matchup, and they don’t really have much to play for in this one either, so we’ll see what sort of effort they bring.
Kansas doesn’t have a lot to play for, but Bill Self will probably still treat it as a must win. It would be nice to see Devonte Graham get some rest, but it might just be for a minute or two at the end of the game. This seems weird to say given that Oklahoma State already won the first matchup, but if Kansas brings even its C+ game, it’s hard to see them losing. I’ll pick the Jayhawks 81-76.