Big 12's big mess to start making sense soon
The Big 12 race is coming down to the regular season's final two games. And at this point, nothing would surprise us here in Jumbo Dozen Land.
Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas A&M are tied at the top with 11-3 league records, meaning we got the annual e-mail from the conference office explaining the tiebreaker process.
There are six steps, with the last one being "chosen by draw." Uh, just to be clear, that doesn't mean at high noon on Main Street like in "Gunsmoke." Although, personally, if it were to end up in a three-way tie at the end, I'd like to see it decided by coaches Sherri Coale, Kim Mulkey and Gary Blair doing stand-up or something for the "American Idol" judges. But I never get consulted on these things.
I wouldn't dare predict what's going to happen -- at least not publicly -- because the conference teams have been throwing curves all season.
One of the most bizarre evenings in league history was Valentine's Day, when Cupid reportedly was mugged and robbed of his bow by a gremlin of undetermined origin who used the weapon to wreak havoc on virtually everybody who was "supposed" to win that night.
Hit with the most lethal arrow, it seems, was Nebraska. The Huskers entered that night in a first-place tie and with what appeared to be the most favorable schedule of any of the top contenders. They were at home in Lincoln, Neb., hosting a Texas Tech team that had just lost at home to Kansas State, which is battling to stay out of the league cellar.
What happened? Of course, Texas Tech beat the Huskers, who have yet to recover. They then lost to Missouri at home (seventh year in a row that's happened) and on the road at Iowa State (10th year in a row for that). Nebraska is 21-7 and 9-5, but the Huskers are going through their February Funk once again. Nebraska was 11-12 in February the past three seasons. So far this month, the Huskers are 3-3, and they face a dangerous trip to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Speaking of the Cowgirls, they are the only program in the Big 12 that has not made an NCAA Tournament appearance since the league formed in 1996-97. There's a chance that could change this year, coach Kurt Budke's second at the school. Last season, he endured a dismal 0-16 record in the league. This year, Oklahoma State is 18-9 overall and 6-8 in the league and I'm going to throw caution to the wind and say there's a really good chance the Cowgirls will win their last two, vs. Nebraska and at Kansas State. In which case, I think an NCAA bid will come the Cowgirls' way.
Oklahoma State just beat Texas, and an all points bulletin has been issued for the Longhorns by their dismayed fans. The Horns were last spotted beating K-State by 27 points on Feb. 3, and they have not been "seen" since. Texas has lost five in a row and is in serious jeopardy of missing the NCAA Tournament for the second season in a row.
I wrote about Iowa State's Lyndsey Medders a few weeks back, when the Cyclones had a lot of work ahead of them to position themselves for NCAA inclusion. They've done that -- Medders nearly had a triple-double Tuesday in the victory over Nebraska that put the Cyclones at 20-7 and 8-6. They play at K-State on Saturday (2 p.m. ET, FSN).
And that brings us back to the three-way tie at the top. Baylor has to play both its fellow first-place teams to close the season. Texas A&M visits Waco at 2 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. Talk about your perfect TV game.
At the same time, Oklahoma will be host to Missouri. And although, as mentioned, weird things have happened all season in the Big 12, it doesn't seem too likely that the Sooners will lose this one at home.
Then, on Wednesday, the Sooners will host Baylor (9 p.m. ET, FSN) while Texas goes to Texas A&M, a place where even things like hives and scurvy are liked better than the Longhorns.
The last night of the league regular season will be March 1. And only then will we be sure what the bracket is going to look like for the Big 12 Tournament's first appearance in Oklahoma City.Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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