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For What It's Worth---Big three weekend primer

Published On: Feb 21 2014 09:13:19 PM CST
Updated On: Mar 01 2014 12:02:20 AM CST
FWIW Graphic

“We won the Big 12, when I think we shot 42 percent for the year. All our guys in their minds said, ‘If we're not great defensively we're not going to win,’ where now our guys' mindset is, ‘If we're shooting the ball well that game or scoring easy that game, we'll outscore them’ as opposed to making sure they play poorly.

--KU Coach Bill Self on the difference between his current team and those of the recent past

Payback?

KU looks to avenge an 81-69 loss at Texas three weeks ago in a game they were never really in.  The ‘Hawks are coming off a near miss at Texas Tech, but have a two game lead in the Big 12 with five to play in quest of their tenth straight conference title.

To Bill Self’s point, KU is allowing nearly 70 points a game –but their stingier at home where they’re only 172-9 under Self.  This game features the two most winning teams in the Big 12, although the Jayhawks have won 242 conference games, 50 more games than the Longhorns.

Texas hasn’t been a great road team, they’re just 3-3 in the Big 12 and have dropped their last two at Iowa State earlier this week and K-State a couple of weeks ago.  Allen Fieldhouse is not a good place to go and try to find yourself.  Kansas should cruise, although this really hasn’t been the typical kind of Bill Self team that you could count on that from.

Speaking of road woes---

One game back in the tie for third, K-State is one of three teams right on Texas’ heels; Oklahoma is one of the others and the ‘Cats face them today in Norman.  KSU has lost five straight on the road, but have been in positions to win the last four.  The Wildcats youth is emboldened at home where they’ve helped their team to 14 straight wins, but they haven’t found the toughness it takes to get one away from home---yet.

Kansas State is one of those teams that look really beatable on paper, but you get in with them and they’ll fight you for table scraps.  Barring a championship run in the Big 12 Tournament Kansas State’s going to be about what they are now.  With just one conference game against a ranked team remaining there aren’t a lot of impactful games left, unless they can find something on the road.  They still have three trips remaining, get a couple of those and watch this team’s confidence soar.

Drake---

Never one to miss a chanced at a history lesson, Gregg Marshall is going for the B-29 bomber for the numeric theme in the pursuit of Wichita State’s 29th straight win without a loss.  The B-29 was a key weapon in World War II for the US Air Force, it’s fuselage was built at Boeing Wichita.  Not that the Shockers should need that much firepower tomorrow against Drake, a team they crushed in Des Moines. 

The Bulldogs are a guard oriented team that loves to drive the ball, Loyola and Southern Illinois have had some recent success with that against the Shockers, but it’s hard to imagine them faltering with a chance to clinch outright the Missouri Valley Conference Championship.

I’ll bet you that Cleanthony Early and Fred Van Vleet will be the top two vote getters for the Valley’s Player of the Year Award.  I’m going to say that Van Vleet has the inside track—opposing coaches can’t stop gushing about him.  Loyola head coach Porter Moser, tongue in cheek, pointed out the other night: “The good news is we’ve got two more years to figure him out, the bad news is that we’ve got two more years to figure him out”

Funny thing in the aftermath of the Shockers win at Loyola; Ron Baker, who’d been the target of withering barbs all night from a really ramped up student section, stopped to talked to them on his way out.  He spent a couple of minutes talking to about 15 of them, but the time he left they were all laughing and slapping him on the back as he walked away.  Amazing, just as this entire season has been and continues to be.

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