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OKLAHOMA STATE BASKETBALL GAMETHREAD: Fighting to the finish and looking ahead

The Cowgirls host Senior Day and the Cowboys have a chance to possibly stamp their ticket to the dance. We also glance ahead to next season.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

This is definitely a big day of hoops at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

Cowgirl Basketball

With ESPN's Gameday crew onsite due to the matchup with Kansas Saturday night, the women should benefit from the buildup of excitement and free admission to their final home game against Kansas State (11-16, 5-11) at 2pm Central. There is no TV coverage listed.

Coach Jim Littell and Cowgirls (21-6, 10-6) sit in third place in the Big 12, one game ahead of Texas with a final road contest in Austin to close the regular season on Monday night. The Lady Longhorns (18-10, 9-7) are on the road at Texas Tech, which shouldn't be difficult for UT. Tech's women and TCU's men have combined to pitch an 0-fer in conference play, currently sitting at 0-31.

That's all kinds of bad.

As for OSU's women, it will be a sad and happy day all at the same time. Senior Day means saying goodbye to some players.

The bad news...OSU will be losing their leader in scoring and assists as well as the #2 person in steals with the graduation of Tiffany Bias, who will join Andrea Riley on the podium of great Cowgirl point guards. Kendra Suttles (6-1 center), who has played in every game (started 15) and is averaging 7.4 pts and 5.5 boards on 22.5 minutes per game, will also be playing her last home game for OSU.

The good news? The only other player being lost is backup PG Kamri Anderson, whose playing time was gobbled up by the arrival and emergence of freshman Roshunda Johnson.

Coach Littell will get back 6 of the 8 major contributors for 2014-15, so the women look to be strong for several seasons to come. Regardless of how they finish this season they will participate in March Madness.

Cowboy Basketball

It is quite a different story on both fronts for the men.

What began with so much excitement has been derailed by Michael Cobbins' injury and some poor behavior, and now the Cowboys need at least 1, maybe 2 wins in the final three regular season games to gain admission to the Dance. Rece Davis has already pointed out that no team has ever made the NCAA tourney with 11 losses in conference play, but if any team is poised to clear that hurdle, it's OSU.

With a #20 BPI ranking and #27 from KenPom, it shouldn't take much for the Cowboys to punch their ticket. I think OSU gets in under the following circumstances (and 2 of these involve 11 conference losses):

  • Win 2 or 3 of final 3 regular season games and lose first round game in Big 12 tourney;
  • Win 1 of final 3 regular season games (that win being Kansas) and win first round game in Big 12 tournament;
  • Win 1 of final 3 regular season games (either KState or Iowa St) and win two games in Big 12 tournament;

I'm not discussing the obvious stuff, just the "bubble" scenarios.

Here are KenPom's predictions for the next 3 games:

Sat Mar 1 Kansas L, 76-75 47%
Mon Mar 3 Kansas St W, 70-65 71%
Sat Mar 8 @ Iowa St L, 81-76 32%

Obviously there are a number of things that could help or hurt OSU as this moves along, primarily the conference tournament upsets that are generally a death blow to bubble teams. It's not so much the loss by the highly ranked team as long as another team likely to make the tourney wins the conference tournament. The killer is when a team NOT destined for the Dance finds the magic. This scenario means additional "at-large" bids get used up for the deserving teams and bubble teams get bounced.

The bottom line for the Cowboys? They still control their fate, as a strong finish will get them off the bubble. This, however, could be a pretty major bump in the road...

The next part of the story is hard to think about.

Travis Ford stands to lose Marcus Smart, Markel Brown, and likely Le'Bryan Nash. Here are your returning players for 2014-15:

Name Position Height Weight
Phil Forte Guard 5-11 185
Jackson Perez Guard 6-1 180
Alex Budke Guard 6-2 190
Ford Stuen Guard 6-3 190
Marek Soucek Post 7-0 240
Gary Gaskins Post 6-10 200
Michael Cobbins Post 6-8 230
Kamari Murphy Post 6-8 220
Christien Sager Wing 6-4 205
Brian Williams Wing 6-5 210
Jeffrey Carroll Wing 6-6 205
Leyton Hammonds Wing 6-7 205

Oh boy.

Throw into that mix a complete collapse by OSU to finish this season, and you could also have the departure of Travis Ford.

Next season could be a little rough for Cowboy hoops. Here are the signed commits coming in this fall, assuming no defections:

Joe Burton #15 SF Humble, TX 6'6'' 195 4 86, Atascocita High School
Jared Terrell #15 SG Weymouth, MA 6'3'' 220 4 84, Brewster Academy
Mitch Solomon #22 C Bixby, OK 6'9'' 225 3 78, Bixby High School
Jeff Newberry PG Atlanta, GA 6'2'' 175 JC, New Mexico Junior College

Here are the players offered and still considering OSU:

Myles Turner #2 C Bedford, TX 6'11'' 225 5 97, Trinity High School
JaQuan Lyle #7 PG Evansville, IN 6'5'' 215 4 87, Huntington Prep
Pat McCaw #38 SG Saint Louis, MO 6'5'' 180 3 74, Montrose Christian School
Keondre Dew #68 SF La Jolla, CA 6'8'' 200 2 69, La Jolla Prep
James Thompson #77 C Baton Rouge, LA 6'9'' 215 2 67, Parkview Baptist High School

That first guy is a pipe dream. Outside of Turner, we see that Ford continues to struggle in recruiting big men.

So here we go. For now let's focus on the present. The women have a chance to make some noise in March Madness, while the men need to make some noise to get in.

No better time to start than today.