The Fly Route
Our deadlines have precluded me from writing about Big 12 basketball recently. Basically, anything I write Wednesday afternoon is out of date after the Wednesday night games, so I'm bound to look like an idiot before this paper even touches your driveway.
We wouldn't want to jump that gun, would we?
Anyway, the NCAA Tournament is less than a month away, and for the first time since I've developed the ability to comprehend records, standings and "bubble teams," I have a reason to care.
Allow me to put that a little more simply: This is sweet, and even though my Kansas State Wildcats blew an important game Tuesday at Nebraska, I'm feeling good about the season's end.
This isn't all new ground, mind you. I do remember my Kansas State Wildcats playing in the tournament a few times when I was in grade school -- I was always the only one to pick the Cats to go all the way in the school wide bracket competition.
Older K-State fans could share plenty more stories about runs through March. I, however, am left with those wispy memories of my bracket being the only one taped on the elementary school's gymnasium wall with an inevitable trail of red X's leading to the championship game.
I think K-State's in if it wins three games it should: at Colorado and at home against Iowa State and Oklahoma. Two wins in the Big 12 tournament or a win against Oklahoma State or Kansas would remove the word "bubble" from the conversation.
The Cats will no doubt have to play better than they have over the last three games, however.
KU seems to be actually playing to its potential, which is about the last thing a rival fan wants to see at this point. As ugly as KU's win against K-State last week was, I didn't see it carrying over for the Cats as there aren't a whole lot of options when the Jayhawks are playing that hot.
Playing like they have since the K-State game, it's hard to argue with KU making a run to the Final Four. Thankfully, the Jayhawks seem as good at turning it off as they are at turning it on. Heck, last year they went from maybe their best game of the year in the Big 12 tournament championship win against Texas, to maybe their worst, in the loss to Bradley.
So, here's hoping for "off!"
As for the rest of the league, it's become pretty hard to define any time outside Texas A&M and Kansas.
All the prayers of ESPN, CBS and the NCAA Tournament don't appear to be enough to make Texas and Kevin Durant into regular winners.
I'd ask who could have predicted Texas Tech picking itself up from a five-game losing streak to beat A&M, but in retrospect that was probably the perfect game for the Red Raiders to win. Tech has five Big 12 wins at this point, not a one coming against a weak team and three coming against the conferences' two best, KU and A&M.
I just can't make sense of that -- I'll blame it on the deadline.