The buzzer sounded mercifully in Allen Fieldhouse after Kansas State was pounded by in-state rival Kansas 64-49 on Monday. For some K-State fans, panic set in about their chances to win a Big 12 title. That panic is unnecessary.
The panic made sense. Kansas, who has won 14-straight Big 12 Championships, had appeared dead in the water after getting routed by Texas Tech the previous Saturday.
K-State, on the other hand, had a two-game lead over their biggest rival coming into Monday’s game. After the 15-point loss, K-State’s lead on Kansas dropped to just one game with three to play. Texas Tech would tie K-State at 11-4 with a win Wednesday night.
In 2013, K-State and KU were neck-and-neck down the stretch and each won six of their last seven games to tie for the conference championship. They both lost on the road to finish out the season tied at 14-4.
This time around, K-State has an opportunity to end Kansas’ streak and win the Big 12 outright. All they have to do is win out.
Let’s break down the three teams’ final schedules.
K-State plays Baylor on Saturday, then Monday night at TCU and finally a Senior Day date with Oklahoma. It’s simple: if the Wildcats win out, they win at least a share of the Big 12 and will end Kansas’ streak.
The toughest of those games is Baylor because of the emotional implications of the games that surrounds it. On paper, K-State should have the most trouble on the road against TCU, though.
No one in the Big 12 has been better on the road this season, and K-State is very capable of defending their home court. K-State is certainly capable of winning out and winning the Big 12.
Texas Tech is tied with K-State at the top. They have the roughest end-of-season stretch. They travel to TCU Saturday, turn around and play Texas at home and then head to Ames, Iowa, to play Iowa State on the final Saturday of the season.
They have won six in a row and are the hottest team in the Big 12 right now, but those two road tests are very tough games. The Red Raiders will struggle to win out, so they will need K-State to drop a game to get a share.
Kansas sits one game back of K-State and Texas Tech. They have the easiest finish to the season of the three competitors.
The Jayhawks will travel to Oklahoma State on Saturday, then they play a road game at Oklahoma on Tuesday and finish their season at home against fellow third-place team Baylor.
I recognize that the Big 12 is a chaotic conference and any team can win any night, but there is no reason to panic just yet for K-State fans. The Wildcats are still in the driver’s seat.
Buckle up, it should be a wild finish.