There will still be a race for spots 2-12 in the conference standings.
But, in reality, the regular-season
championship will be all but wrapped up and resting snuggly, albeit
figuratively, back in
The Longhorns will take a 5-0
conference record in
Everyone else in the Big 12 has at least two defeats, including the Sooners (3-2).
If Kelvin Sampson's team (which has reeled off three wins in a row after opening with losses to Nebraska and Missouri by a combined three points) doesn't beat Texas Saturday, any defeat the Longhorns are to suffer – barring injuries – will have to be filed in the "major upset" category.
Two other Big 12 games being played
Saturday will impact the race for second place (if that's what it becomes, based
on what happens in
*Kansas State (3-2 in the conference after three consecutive wins, and 12-4 overall) at Colorado (4-2 and 14-3): The Wildcats (in junior Cartier Martin) and Buffs (sophomore Richard Roby) each has one of the better players in the conference, both of which are seriously lacking in national recognition. Neither team has any eye-catching non-conference victories (although the Buffs smacked UC Irvine and Penn, which are currently atop the Big West and Ivy standings), so each needs as many conference wins as possible to pad the at-large resumes.
BOUNCING AROUND THE COUNTRY:
The Cardinal needed victories over Denver and Princeton to take a 4-4 record into Pacific 10 Conference play after going into the season as, from some perspectives, a co-favorite to win it.
If UCLA loses at
Those falling into the cynical set might then say "Yeah, but the Pac 10 isn't very good this season". And they'd have, to large degree, a pretty good point.
But the Cardinal is playing a lot better of late, with the performance of 6-foot-10 Matt Haryasz (24.5 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game over the past four contests) a significant reason why.
Johnson's team has a chance to help
its at-large profile considerably when it visits
The opponent is certainly high profile enough: The Gonzaga Bulldogs, who would help their argument for no worse than a No. 2 seed on March 12 by knocking off a team that could still be in contention for a Pac 10 title when they meet.
*OK, how many among us anticipated back in November that when the Virginia Cavaliers visited Cameron Indoor Stadium on Jan. 28, they'd do so with a 4-2 Atlantic Coast Conference mark and a share of second place?
David Leitao and his staff are doing a nice job in their first season with the program.
And if the Cavaliers still have a piece of second place after Feb. 7 (a stretch of games that includes Saturday's contest with Duke, visits to North Carolina State and Maryland, and a home tilt with Wake Forest), I'll sub "a superb" for "a nice" for Leitao & Co.'s job evaluation.
*A big game – or, at least, what passes for
such in the Big West Conference these days – will be played Saturday evening in
The UC Irvine Anteaters, 7-0 in the Big West after a 4-8 non-conference performance that included losses to non-Division I opponents Cal State Stanislaus and Arkansas-Monticello, visits Long Beach State to face the second-place (4-2) 49ers.
Long Beach Coach Larry Reynolds, who came into this season with his job firmly on the line after a cumulative 21-63 record in his first three years with the program, has three players with NBA bloodlines.
Forward Shawn Hawkins is the grandson of Connie Hawkins, one of the legendary
names in the sport. Point guard Kejuan Johnson is the nephew of the 49ers' and Big West's all-time leading scorer,
Lucious Harris, who spent 12 seasons
in the NBA, most recently with
Inducted into the USBWA Hall of
Fame last April, Frank Burlison is Scout.com's national basketball expert and is
also a columnist for the