Oklahoma basketball: Sooners-Cowboys go at it in Bedlam III in Big 12 Tournament

LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 19: Kristian Doolittle
LAWRENCE, KS - FEBRUARY 19: Kristian Doolittle /
1 of 4
NORMAN, OK – FEBRUARY 24: Tyree Griffin
NORMAN, OK – FEBRUARY 24: Tyree Griffin /

The rubber game in the season battle for Oklahoma basketball supremacy and bragging rights in the Sooner State will take place Wednesday night in the opening game of the Big 12 Tournament.

For the uninitiated, that translates to Bedlam III in the 2018 season series between No. 9 Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, the No. 8 seed. Not only is the season series at stake in this game, but also an NCAA Tournament bid. The winner will move on to play Kansas in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday.

What a way to open a conference tournament. It’s too bad this game isn’t being played in Oklahoma City. Imagine what that would be like, Sooner fans? Instead the venue is the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

Multiple college basketball experts believe that Oklahoma State must win this game to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament, which begins next week. Many of those same experts believe the Sooners will be in the Big Dance regardless of the outcome of Wednesday’s Big 12 tourney game with Oklahoma State. I have to profess, I don’t share that same level of confidence.

Oklahoma State is a desperate team, and to compound that the Cowboys have been playing very well of late. In the regular-season finale over the weekend OSU dominated Big 12 champion Kansas, burying the Jayhawks by 18 points.

The Cowboys have won four of their last five games, including wins over Kansas and Texas Tech, the top two teams in the Big 12 this season. They actually have beaten Kansas twice this season and also have a win over West Virginia

The Sooners, on the other hand, have not been playing with the same degree of urgency, even with their chance to make the NCAA Tournament field in real danger of slipping away.

The only factor that has Oklahoma as likely to be in the NCAA Tournament right now is the fact the Sooners are one of only two Division I teams that have as many as six wins over Top-25 teams this season (Duke is the other). Four of those wins were over teams ranked in the top 10 at the time the game was played.

That is the sole reason, in my opinion, that OU is still on the radar of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

While Oklahoma State has gotten better down the critical homestretch, the Sooners have gone in the opposite direction, losing three of their last four and 10 of their last 14. And their last two losses were by more than 20 points, their largest two losing margins of the season.

Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma State by 20 points earlier in the season in Norman, but the Sooners lost by two points in overtime in Stillwater.

Both teams ended the regular season tied with two other teams for sixth place in the Big 12 with 8-10 records. The part that troubles me is that is more indicative of the way Oklahoma is playing now and not the Sooners’ in-state Bedlam rivals.