It’s February, which means that we are just one month away from “the madness” and the business end of the College Basketball season. It adds even greater importance to match-ups like the midweek Big 12 clash between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and Texas Longhorns.
The Longhorns are in danger of dropping out of the rankings currently in the #25 position, while the Cowboys are the definition of a “bubble” team as we get closer to the NCAA tournament. Both teams are 14-7 and both own losing records early in Big 12 play. This is not a must win game, but definitely an opportunity to start steering their respective seasons in the right direction.
Texas have been a difficult team to work out. They entered conference play with an 11-2 record. One defeat at the hands of #1 ranked Kentucky, and the other a tough overtime loss to Stanford. They then started conference play 3-2, but now find themselves mired in a concerning three-game losing streak, including a 23-point loss to the Baylor Bears on Saturday.
The Longhorns have had particular difficulty on the defensive side of the ball recently giving up 89 and 86 points in their last two games respectively. Traditionally a strong defensive and rebounding team and with some experienced and high quality players on their front line in Jonathan Holmes and Myles Turner, it should only be a minor hiccup, but head coach Rick Barnes will be keen to see his team improve sooner rather than later.
They’ll face a challenge from a Cowboys’ team well run by Phil Forte III. He’s averaging 17.3 points per game on the season and is ably supported by Le’Bryan Nash and Anthony Hickey Jr. It is very much a game of contrasting styles with the small ball, guard play of Oklahoma State coming up against a longer Texas group.
The Cowboys are probably on the outside looking in when it comes to participating in March Madness. They can take heart from an impressive win over then-ranked #20 Baylor, but a major mark against them at the moment is an 0-4 record on the road in Big 12 play. The opportunity to make amends for that could be tonight against the slumping Longhorns.
Betting Preview: Oklahoma State (+6) at Texas
This will be an interesting match-up between two teams who play with opposing styles, have talent and experience. It’s hard to see the Longhorns getting run over by a Cowboys offense that leans heavily upon Forte III and Nash, especially considering the importance of getting a win on the board and breaking out of their current slump.
This has the makings of a scratchy, probably low-scoring contest. Ultimately, Texas are the deserved favorites, but a good betting pick is to go against the spread and expect the Cowboys to lose close or potentially even cause the upset.
The Pick: Oklahoma State (+6) (www.betonline.ag)
Writer’s Record Against The Spread: 21-16