Big 12 Semifinals Picks: #3 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs #2 Kansas State Wildcats

Big 12 Semifinals
#3 Oklahoma State Cowboys vs #2 Kansas State Wildcats
Friday, March 15, 2013, 10:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPNU

Sprint Center – Kansas City,  Missouri
Opening Line: Pick
Current Line: Kansas State -2
Opening Total: 131
Current Total: 133 1/2
Opening Money Line: Kansas State -110 / Oklahoma State -110
Current Money Line: Kansas State -135 / Oklahoma State +115

Kansas St is 2 point favorite over Oklahoma St in the Big 12 semis Friday night.
Kansas St is 2 point favorite over Oklahoma St in the Big 12 semis Friday night.

The 26-6 Kansas State Wildcats and 24-7 Oklahoma State Cowboys are both ranked in the top 15 in the country. Both should be top 4 seeds in the NCAA tournament. However, only one of them can advance to the finals of the Big 12 tournament. The #2 seeded Wildcats tied with Kansas at 14-4 for the Big 12 regular season title, the first conference title for Kansas St since 1977. The Jayhawks won the tiebreaker because they beat K-State twice. The Wildcats beat #7 Texas 66-49 in Thursday’s quarterfinals.

Oklahoma St was a game behind Kansas and Kansas St at 13-5. The Cowboys were the #3 seed and beat #6 Baylor 74-72 in the quarters. The Cowboys had a 20 point lead at one point, and withstood a furious Baylor comeback. Baylor tied it up at 72. The Cowboys were going for the last shot when the officials called Baylor for a foul on Cowboys guard Phil Forte. Forte, a 91% free throw shooter buried both free throws. Baylor guard Pierre Jackson missed a 3 at the buzzer that would have won the game for the Bears. The Cowboys hung on for the win.

Kansas St leads the series 73-47 against Oklahoma St. The two schools split the season series with each grabbing a 6 point victory at home. Kansas State won in Manhattan January 5 73-67 in the Big 12 opener for both teams. Oklahoma St won in Stillwater 76-70 last Saturday in the regular season finale for both teams.

Oklahoma St is coached by Travis Ford. The Cowboys have losses at Virginia Tech, Kansas St, Oklahoma, Baylor and Iowa St, and at home to Gonzaga and Kansas.  OSU has wins over Akron, Tennessee, and North Carolina St in a tournament in Puerto Rico along with home wins over South Florida, Missouri St, TCU, West Virginia, Iowa St, Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas. The Cowboys have road wins at Kansas, Texas and Texas Tech, West Virginia, and TCU. OSU has won 5 of the last 6 and 2 in a row. The Cowboys are 15-13-2 ATS and the total is 12-12 this season.

Oklahoma St is outscoring teams 73-63 this season. OSU is shooting 44.5% from the field and 31.9% from 3 point range. The Cowboys are #23 in free throw shooting making 74.9% from the line. Oklahoma St averages 36.3 rebounds per game, and gives up 31.4 per game. Cowboy opponents are shooting 38.9% from the field and 32.1% from 3 point range. OSU is #25 in opponent’s field goal percentage. The Cowboys average 12 assists, 8 steals, 5 blocks, and 12 turnovers a game.

Guard Markel Brown averages 15.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1 steal per game. Guard Marcus Smart averages 14.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.3 assists, and 2.9 steals per game. Guard-forward Le’Bryan Nash averages 13.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists. Guard Phil Forte averages 10.8 points, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.3 steals. Michael Cobbins averages 6.9 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks per game.  Kamari Murphy, Philip Jurick, and Kirby Gardner make up the rest of the rotation. Guard Jean-Paul Olukemi (knee) is out for the season.

Kansas St is coached by Bruce Weber. The only losses came to Michigan in the pre-season NIT at Madison Square Garden, and to Gonzaga in Seattle, Kansas twice, and at Iowa St and Oklahoma St Saturday 76-70 in Stillwater. The loss snapped a 6 game winning streak for the Wildcats.  Michigan, Kansas  and Gonzaga are currently ranked in the top 9 in the country. K-State has key wins over Delaware in New York City, at George Washington, Florida in Kansas City, Oklahoma St, Texas twice and Oklahoma twice and at West Virginia twice, TCU twice, Texas Tech twice, and Baylor twice. The Wildcats are 14-13-1 ATS and the total is 13-10 this season.

Kansas St is outscoring teams 70-61 this season. The Wildcats are #39 in points allowed. K-State is shooting 44.1% from the field and 36.6% from 3 point range. The Wildcats make 69.1% of their free throws. Kansas St averages  35.1 rebounds per game, and they give up 28.9 per game. K-State opponents are shooting 42.3% from the field and 31.5% from 3 point range. Kansas St averages 17 assists, 7 steals, 4 blocks, and 12 turnovers per game.

Guard Rodney McGruder averages 15 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.2 steals per game. Guard Angel Rodriguez averages 10.9 points, 5.1 assists, 1.8 rebounds, and 1.4 steals per game. Guard Will Spradling averages 8.7 points, 2.7 assists, 2.6 rebounds, and 1 steal per game. He is probable with a chest injury. Guard Shane Southwell averages  8.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. Forward Thomas Gipson averages 7.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game.  Forward Nino Williams averages 4.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. Forward Jordan Henriquez averages 4.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game. He is probable with a back injury.  Martavious Irving, Adrian Diaz, D.J. Johnson, and Omari Lawrence will also see significant time in the rotation. The Wildcats are deep but don’t have a lot of size. Diaz and Henriquez are the only players over 6′-8″ on the roster.

Oklahoma St is 6-1 ATS after failing to cover, 32-15-4 in neutral site, 1-4-1 after a straight up win, and 1-5 against teams with winning records.

Kansas St is 0-5-1 ATS after allowing 50 points or less, The favorite has covered the last 4 in this series, and 5 of the last 6 have gone over the total.

These two teams are evenly matched, and either can win. Each had chances to win on the road, but the intense home crowds were the difference. the crowd in Kansas City should be evenly divided between fans wearing purple and those wearing orange. I like Kansas St to win a nail biter.
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