The Tale of Two Oklahoma Basketball Teams

The Big 12 conference is well-represented in the tournament this year, with seven of the 10 teams playing in March.

One of those three teams not dancing in March is the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The Cowboys are under a new coach this season after their one-year coach Brad Underwood left to coach the Illinois Fighting Illini.

Upperclassmen on the team were looking for a chance the redeem themselves after last year’s heartbreaking loss to Michigan in the tournament.

Oklahoma State finished sixth in the Big 12 with a record of 20-14 and beat Kansas twice during the regular season, but that was not enough to secure themselves a spot in the tournament.

Their in state rival the Oklahoma Sooners are in the tournament as a 10 seed. This morning the Sooners lost to Rhode Island in overtime which bears the question, should the Cowboys have been in the tournament instead of the Sooners?

The Sooners season can be described by two words, Trae Young. Young has lead the team in scoring and averages 27 points per game as well as 9 assists. Young is an obvious choice to declare for the draft after his season ended tonight in Pittsburgh.

The Cowboys know what it is like to play against Trae Young. This season they met three times, twice in the regular season and once in the Big 12 tournament. The Sooners won the first matchup but would drop the next two games to the Cowboys.

The most recent showdown between these teams was on March 7, and ESPN golden boy Trae Young under-performed scoring only 22 points going 7/21 from the field. So, should have the Cowboys been in and not Oklahoma?

Based strictly on performance in the Big 12, yes. The Cowboys deserved the opportunity to see how far they could have gone in March but the season as a whole, the Sooners were a ranked team dominating the Big 12 in the beginning of the season. The Sooners at times looked like they could knock Kansas from their pedestal and claim the Big 12 title.

Once tournament play began the story quickly changed for the Sooners. The Cowboys began to win games they should not have, like a win against sixth ranked Texas Tech.

The Cowboys had one final chance to prove themselves to the committee in the Big 12 tournament. A win against the Sooners was a great start but that energy could not carry over against the Kansas Jayhawks. Loosing 82 to 68 to the Jayhawks, it is easy to argue if the Cowboys could have won that game they go from first four out to last four in.

The Cowboys are dancing in March, but in the NIT as a two seed. The Cowboys won their first matchup against Florida Gulf Coast and play Stanford on Monday.

It is hard to predict what the Cowboys would have done if they made the tournament, but March is the time for upsets.

 

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Anatomy of a Dynasty

A dynasty can simply be described as a team or individual that dominates their sport for an extended period of time.

In the beginning stages of a dynasty, it is hard to see if a team may become something better than just the average, but there are teams currently in basketball who have become dynasties.

At the beginning of the college basketball season it always seems you know the teams that will be good; Kansas, Duke, Kentucky and North Carolina are always ranked in college basketball preseason polls. How do teams each year compile a star roster, that wins games, and reaches the national championship game season after season? The simple answer is recruiting.

Creating and displaying the fact that your team can win games is enough for a recruit to picture himself at center court holding up the trophy in March.

Confetti only rains down on one champion and everyone wants to be part of that team. The key? You’re a team, compiled of many players with various skill sets all working together to win each game.

How do you become that team? These four schools have the answer.

Kansas

Last Saturday, Kansas proved its dominate track by securing at least a share of the Big 12 title. With Texas Tech’s loss to West Virginia last night, Kansas once again will be the lone Big 12 regular season champion, a title they are used to. The Jayhawks have won their league 14 years in a row, setting a new NCAA record.

Kansas always has strong guard play from a shorter than average guy who runs the team, as well as a strong inside presence. This year those two spots are filled by Graham and Azubuike.

The Jayhawks are currently a projected number one seed and have a real chance to win the tournament this year, if they fit all the pieces together come March.

Duke

Coach K can do many things well, but his top skill is recruiting. Duke has the number one, two and three recruits coming to their court next season.

At the beginning of the season Duke’s hope of remaining a top contender in the ACC was starting to slip away, just like many other teams on this list. By the time conference play was upon them the Blue Devils had come to play.

Duke is a team full of one-and-done players, those who play to their fullest potential in college for one season before moving onto the draft. This style of play would normally not work for a basketball team, unless you became such a contender in the national championship game each season top recruits dream of playing on your team. That is exactly what has happened at Duke. Call it reputation but Duke has secured themselves as a dynasty. If you’re a big-time player, you want to have an offer to play at Duke, and that is exactly what Duke wants you to think or else their game plan would fail.

Kentucky

You love to hate Kentucky for many reasons but a main one is the platoon style play. First coined and used effectively by coach Calipari, the Wildcats implement a style of play that is hard to prepare for and makes matchups difficult.

It is called platoon style, a simple yet difficult way to play basketball. Other teams in the NCAA have developed their own version of platoon play on a smaller scale but none compare to Kentucky. Platoon play is players are divided into two “platoons” these platoons are made up of five players who play each of the five positions and work well with each other. When the first platoon is tired the second will come in. A group of five completely different players all fully rested coming off the bench to supply a spark for the team.

The platoon style makes Kentucky a tough team to game plan for because you are taking on ten players that alternate at position. To perfectly execute this style of play you must have skilled players and a determination to win.

North Carolina

One of the common things all of these teams have, besides being a dynasty, is their coaches have seen it all, and Roy Williams is no exception. Leaving his post at Kansas to join the Tar heels left a hole in many Kansas fans hearts, later to be filled by current coach Bill Self, Williams has experience coaching winning teams.

His style of play is similar to that of Kansas with talented guards and a quality rebounding team. Second chance baskets can help any good team be great.

North Carolina this season looks to do what they did last year, bring home the trophy. This year that path is more tangled with many talented teams this year it is hard to predict who will win.

Any of these dynasty teams are a safe bet to bring home the trophy this year.

Who will win the Big 12 title?

In a college basketball season filled with upsets and top contenders falling, many conference titles are still a toss-up.

With two weeks left till the Big 12 tournament, the regular-season title remains up for grabs. The top contenders to grab this title are some of the usual suspects in the West Virginia Mountaineers and Kansas Jayhawks. The dark horse of the group who has a great opportunity to steal the title this season is the Texas Tech Red Raiders.

Texas Tech

The Red Raiders in preseason polls were ranked to finish in the bottom half of the Big 12. Star guard Keenan Evans greatly impacted just how talented the Red Raiders could be. Evans averages almost 18 points a game and is using his senior energy to bring the fight to the court.

Texas Tech has one of the more interesting rosters in college basketball. Most of the players on their team are either freshman or seniors. Many contribute this to the fact that Texas Tech changed coaches in 2016 from Tubby Smith to current coach Chris Beard. Evans senior talent can be seen on the court as he coaches the freshman and hopes to lead this team to a Big 12 regular season conference for the first time since joining the Big 12 in 1997.

Texas Tech has a must win game on Saturday against Kansas. If they wish to secure a share of the Big 12 title they must beat Kansas, since their loose on Wednesday to Oklahoma State. 

https://twitter.com/TexasTechMBB/status/965398303654457344

West Virginia

The Mountaineers currently have the toughest chance of winning the title, a lot of things have to go right for them. Mathematically the Mountaineers could not win the title outright or share a piece but the Mountaineers are still a team with a lot under the hood.

This season was the Mountaineers best chance to take down their rival Kansas and win the Big 12 regular season conference title. Coach Bob Huggins is not only know for his tracksuits and wooden stool but also his ability to coach. Huggins does not have much to prove he is a talented coach, except the fact he seems to be the only coach who can beat the Jayhawks at home or on the road. This season not even their reliability against Kansas could bring them up to the major spotlight. West Virginia lost both their games this season to Kansas, and yes the last time these two teams met Kansas went 35-of-37 from the free throw line. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, all that shows up is a notch in the loss column.

Currently the Mountaineers are two games behind the Big 12 leader Kansas, while they may not have an opportunity to win the regular season title they are a big competitor come postseason tournament time. Joe Lunardi currently has the Mountaineers as a four seed in the South.

Kansas

If you don’t know what the Jayhawks have been doing in the Big 12 then you have been living under a rock. The Jayhawks have complied 13-straight Big 12 regular season titles and are going for their 14th on Saturday night against Texas Tech. If the Jayhawks win their 14th straight title that would be the new record.

The Jayhawks currently sit alone atop the Big 12, which is a scenario they are used to, but the season did not start that way. Having the most at home losses ever in a season, coach Bill Self had to rally the troops and reconvene after looking like they could slip out of regular season title contention.

The Jayhawks are almost guaranteed at least a share of the Big 12 title, their fate lies in the hands of the Red Raiders to whether or not they will share the title.

For all the promise and depth the Big 12 showed throughout the season it still comes down to a dark horse and a Jayhawk.