SOUTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS: Breaking down the Big 12 basketball race, each team's chances
Southern Illinois University Athletics recently issued the following announcement.
Let's take a trip back to March 6, 2004. Usher ruled the charts with "Yeah!" Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was the freshly crowned Best Picture Oscar winner in an 11-for-11 sweep.
And Kansas basketball didn't finish on top of the Big 12 standings.
On that day, Oklahoma State routed Texas A&M 70-41 to win the conference outright. It was so long ago, Texas A&M, Colorado, Missouri and Nebraska aren't even in the league anymore. Hello to "new" members TCU and West Virginia.
Since that Oklahoma State solo title, Kansas has won at least a share of 14 consecutive regular-season conference titles, an NCAA record. However, that streak might finally end this season. Might.
Kansas rival K-State is currently in first in the conference at 11-3, but that lead is only one game.and Kansas State also still has to travel to Lawrence.
Still, it looks like this could be the year the streak ends.
As we approach the end of the regular season, we break down the leading Big 12 championship contenders by looking at projections, players, history and schedules — and how it could end.
The state of the Big 12 basketball title race
Record: 21-6 overall, 11-3 Big 12
Remaining games: 4 (Feb. 25 at Kansas; March 2 vs. Baylor; March 4 at TCU; March 9 vs. Oklahoma)
KenPom projection: 13-5 (solo champion)
K-State dominated Oklahoma State 85-46 on Saturday to maintain poll position within the conference race.
With Texas Tech handling Kansas Saturday, the Wildcats' lead remains at one game — over the Red Raiders, alone in second, now.
Two of the remaining four games are on the road, but one is the Big One: Kansas on Monday, Feb. 25. If K-State wins that one, that would go a long, long way to end Kansas' run, barring a K-State collapse.
The problem? The Wildcats haven't defeated Kansas in Lawrence since 2006, when KU's title streak was only an infant and not a teenager.
Some good news, however: Kansas State also doesn't have to play Texas Tech again this season, as the two teams already split.
Record: 22-5 overall, 10-4 Big 12
Remaining games: 4 (Feb. 27 vs. Oklahoma State; March 2 at TCU; March 4 vs. Texas; March 9 at Iowa State)
KenPom projection: 12-6
Lost in the whirlwind of a Kansas-or-Kansas State was the fact that Texas Tech is right there, too. Now they're more than "just there" after dismantling Kansas 91-62 on Saturday.
The Red Raiders will bring their championship-caliber defense every game. The question is if Jarrett Culver and Co. can score enough.
That hasn't been a problem of late though, as the Red Raiders have routed Kansas and short-handed Baylor (86-61) in back-to-back games. That's a big step toward the program winning its first regular-season conference title since 1996.when Texas Tech was in the Southwest Conference.
Record: 20-7 overall, 9-5 Big 12
Remaining games: 4 (Feb. 25 vs. Kansas State; March 2 at Oklahoma State; March 5 at Oklahoma; March 9 vs. Baylor)
KenPom projection: 12-6
Kansas is only 2-7 on the road this season, a troubling number as the Jayhawks can't rely on Allen Fieldhouse the rest of the way. Of course, they do get K-State at home on Monday night. However, KU's brutal loss at Lubbock on Saturday is a major dent in its pursuit of a 15th straight title. If Kansas now goes 0-2 against K-State, uh oh.
The Jayhawks stand in a third place tie with Baylor at 9-5 in conference play now, two games behind the first-place Wildcats.
KU is also likely going to lack depth going forward, so the growth of freshmen Ochai Agbaji and Devon Dotson will be key.
Record: 18-9 overall, 9-5 Big 12
Remaining games: 4 (Feb. 27 vs. Texas; March 2 at Kansas State; March 6 vs. Oklahoma State; March 9 at Kansas)
KenPom projection: 11-7
Though the Bears are only two games out of first, stats say Baylor is more likely to play the role of spoiler the last few weeks. Much of that is more because of the schedule than any problems with Baylor itself.
Just take a look at what's ahead. The Bears lost to Texas Tech last Saturday, and though they still beat Iowa State on the road, the Bears must travel to both K-State and Kansas to close out the regular season.
However, that crucial road win against top-25 Iowa State keeps the Bears in the race.
Record: 19-8 overall, 8-6 Big 12
Remaining games: 4 (Feb. 25 vs. Oklahoma; March 2 at Texas; March 6 at West Virginia; March 9 vs. Texas Tech)
KenPom projection: 11-7
Iowa State's title hopes appear to be fading after dropping three games out with four games left on its schedule. The Cyclones lost to TCU 75-72 on the road Saturday.
Original source can be found here.