Big 12 Saturday: Hunting for Big 12 At-Large Bids

In light of recent struggles from Missouri and Texas A&M the Big 12 only has two real locks for the NCAA Tournament at this stage: Texas and Kansas--who are both in the running for top seeds.  Texas A&M probably should join that category, but the Aggies have lost three out of four (granted, two were to Texas).  Missouri is also in the middle of a two game skid that put its conference record below .500.  At this point both Missouri and A&M are still safe, barring an epic collapse.  On the flip side Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Iowa State are safe from bubble anxiety.  That leaves us with the other five teams from the conference fighting for wins (who will be the focus of this weekend's preview).

Kansas St. Wildcats at Iowa St. Cyclones (12:30 PM, Big 12 Network): the Wildcats desperately need this win.  They have a couple of decent wins over Virginia Tech and at Washington State.  They don't have any horrendous losses (though I'm sure Wildcat fans would've loved to avoid the loss at home to Colorado), but at three and five in conference play there isn't a hole lot of room to mess around for Frank Martin's squad.  The Cyclones are looking more and more like the team we all thought they'd be coming into the season, so this should be a good confidence booster (and road win) for the Wildcats if they execute.

Oklahoma Sooners at Oklahoma St. Cowboys (12:30 PM, Big 12 Network): if you had the Sooners notching a four game winning streak in conference play, please take over my weekly picks.  Yes, three of the wins are at home, but Jeff Capel's squad is finally playing with some confidence.  As for Oklahoma State, it got a much needed win over Missouri but had dropped five of its previous six before that game.  The Cowboys' early success is starting to look like a mirage, and this is a must-win game to avoid having a second loss to a cellar dweller.

Baylor Bears at Texas A&M Aggies (1:00 PM, ESPN): as I mentioned earlier A&M has lost three of its last four, but Baylor still needs this game more.  The Bears have zero good wins this year (and losses at Oklahoma and Iowa State to boot), but this would definitely qualify.  It would also prove the Bears can win on the road.  At some point Baylor's sheer talent has got to pay dividends, right?  (No)  I'd be shocked if the Bears pull this one off partially because I don't think they're that good (and lack a leader) and partially because I think the Aggies are going to be out for blood.

Kansas Jayhawks at Nebraska Cornhuskers (3:00 PM, Big 12 Network): this could be the most interesting game of the day.  The Huskers gave Kansas everything it could handle in Lawrence, and the Jayhawks have struggled on the road (apart from their total dismantlement of Baylor) in conference play.  Nebraska is my sleeper pick to grab an NCAA at-large bid (I can't believe I just typed that sentence), especially if they can pull of the upset here.  The Huskers have a good win over A&M and only one really unfortunate loss (to Davidson).  They also have tremendous balance.  The Jayhawks are deeper and more talented, but they aren't invincible.  Look for Nebraska to try and play a slow game with physical defense to try and keep the Jayhawks off balance.

Colorado Buffaloes at Missouri Tigers (6:30 PM, MSN): the Tigers look to avenge a tough loss in Boulder.  They can start by defending Alec Burks a little better.  Colorado got off to a torrid start in league play, but a four game losing streak knocked them back a few pegs.  Colorado is still in decent shape to pick up an at-large bid with a solid win over Missouri, but the Buffs have a couple losses they'd like to get rid of (at San Francisco and at Oklahoma for starters).  A win here would give Colorado a great resume-building road win, but it'll probably need another stellar night out of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins to execute the win.

Texas Tech Red Raiders at Texas Longhorns (8:00 PM, ESPNU): I'm pretty sure the Red Raiders would be happy to drive out of Austin with a 20 point loss...

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