This week we welcome Kansas back to the MVP Draft for the final regular season game of the season!
First off, for those who haven’t seen the MVP Draft before, here are the rules: Each participant will pick ONE PLAYER from EACH TEAM they think will perform the best. They will then pick a third player from either team as their wild card pick. Each correct pick is worth one point. We will tally the points throughout the season.
Before we get to the Jayhawks, let’s tally up last week’s points from the Texas Tech game:
Jeffrey Carroll l TTU: Zach Smith | Wild Card: Phil Forte (OSU)
OSU: Jawun Evans l TTU:
Zach Smith | Wild Card: Leyton Hammonds (OSU)
Jeffrey Carroll l TTU: Keenan Evans | Wild Card: Jawun Evans (OSU)
Opponent: Zach Mason
OSU: Jawun Evans l TTU:
Niem Stevenson | Wild Card: Zach Smith (TTU)
Oklahoma State: The question is which was bigger: Evans scoring all 15 of his points in the second half or Carroll scoring 14 of his team high 17 in the first half? When the game started getting close early in the second half, Evans picked the team up and carried them to victory. Point Evans.
Texas Tech: This was easy. Evans led the team with 18 points and added three rebounds, three assists, and three steals. The other two, Smith and Stevenson, combined for six points. Point Evans.
Wild Card: Evans got the point for OSU so he’s out. Smith did nothing on the losing team. Hammonds had six points, four of which came from the free-throw line. Forte was lights out in the first half and ended the game with 15 points and five rebounds. Point Forte.
Sam - 17
Sumer/Phillip - 16
Tyler - 14
Opponent - 13
Everyone got a point, so nothing really changed.
This week we welcome the Jawhawks back to the draft and to Stillwater, two places where this kind of nonsense is not allowed.
Kansas comes in winners of their 13th straight Big 12 title, while Oklahoma State is looking to finish Big 12 play above .500. This is our third to last draft. We will also pick OSU’s first Big 12 tournament game and the Cowboys’ first NCAA tournament game. That means everyone needs to pick smart! (You can’t he’s gone.) (I slay myself sometimes.)
Alright, let’s get to pickin!
OSU: Jawun Evans | KU: Frank Mason III | Wild Card: Phil Forte (OSU)
Oklahoma State: I have to go with the captain of the team in the biggest game of the year (thus far). Evans didn't have a great game last time out against KU, but he is a different player and this is a different team than the one that went to Phog and almost ended the Kansas win streak back in January. We saw Evans take over and score the 16 of the last 18 points to get the win against OU. There's no reason he can't do the same thing against Kansas.
Kansas: I hate picking him again, but he is just too good to pick against. I can't wait until he is gone next year. And Josh Jackson too. (But less so.)
Wild Card: Last time out, it was Carroll leading the upset charge. However, Phil Forte has been shooting lights out in Gallagher-Iba Arena. I mean, look at this. This is ridiculous.
If the Cowboys want to win over No. 1 Kansas, Forte is going to need to hit some clutch shots from deep.
OSU: Leyton Hammonds | KU: Frank Mason III | Wild Card: Devonte Graham (Kansas)
Oklahoma State: I’m hoping picking Hammonds back to back weeks works out for me. I still think KU is extremely vulnerable in the post. It may not show this game, but it will show eventually in March. Hammonds is a player that is playing his best basketball as of late, and I really believe he has a shot to have a good game against KU. Hammonds is coming off a 19 point performance against Iowa State.
Kansas: In the final game of the season, and winding down the MVP Draft, it’s hard not to pick Frank Mason in this game. The dude can ball, and he is definitely a deserving finalist for the Naismith Award. Mason is averaging 20.3 ppg, but no one in the country has been as important to his team as Frank Mason has. He has notched 20+ point outings against some of the best teams on KU's schedule including Duke, Indiana, Kentucky and Baylor. KU will go as far in March as Frank Mason can take them. The last time these two met, Mason went for 22. If the Pokes want any shot to upset the No. 1 team in America, this is the man to stop.
Wild Card: Let’s not forget that Frank Mason originally committed to Towson, and Devonte’ Graham was committed to Appalachian State. Now these two make up arguably the best backcourt in college basketball for the Kansas Jayhawks. Graham is one of the most consistent players for KU, averaging four assists per game to go along with 13 points and three boards. Graham also played well the last time these two teams met, notching 21 points and shot 57 percent from the floor. If KU can get good games from their backcourt, they are virtually unbeatable.
OSU: Jeffrey Carroll | KU: Frank Mason III | Wild Card: Mitchell Solomon (OSU)
Oklahoma State: Honestly, Evans, Forte, or Carroll are all good picks here. I think the Jayhawks are going to do everything they can to keep Forte and Evans in check. That leaves the last member of the Big 3, Carroll. He led OSU in the last meeting with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting. If you go look at his stats this season, his best games are the biggest, especially when they’re at home. I think he gets his 14th 20+ point game of the season.
Kansas: You know who really gave OSU trouble last time out against Kansas? Devonte Graham. Mason and Jackson got half their points at the line, and since this game isn’t in Allen Fieldhouse, I’m going to believe Graham will continue to be a problem for OSU in this game.
Wild Card: I’m hoping for a repeat performance from the last time these two teams met up. Solomon scored 16 points on 6-of-6 shooting and 4-of-6 from the line. I actually think OSU matches up really well inside with Kansas. As long as Solomon doesn’t get into early foul trouble, I think he’s a difference maker again today.
Opponent: Jake Ellenbogen
OSU: Phil Forte III | KU: Frank Mason III | Wild Card: LeGerald Vick (Kansas)
Oklahoma State: Phil Forte III will be playing his final game in Stillwater and if you think he isn't going to put on a show against his father's alma mater then you are sadly mistaken. Forte has been a pest for Kansas in the past, leading Oklahoma State to a 3-game win streak at home versus the Jayhawks. Forte is definitely going to get hot from three, and since I expect this game to be close, it will be Forte and not Jawun Evans who will be keeping Oklahoma State neck-and-neck with Kansas down to the wire. It's not to say I expect Evans and Jeffrey Carroll to be non-factors, but I do believe Forte will be given a huge opportunity to rise up to the occasion in his final game at home and, of course, seize it.
Kansas: I tried to get cute here and pick Devonte Graham, but this is the assumed National Player of the year we are talking about! Mason is going to have himself a game (not that that should surprise anyone). He is the heart and soul of the Jayhawks. He had a really good game last time versus Oklahoma State. Kansas lacks a Joel Embiid/Jeff Withey type of shot-blocking talent in the pivot spot and because of this, Kansas often finds themselves keeping games uncomfortably close. When games get close Mason elevates his play. Since I believe this game is going to come to the last minutes, it will be two senior leaders Mason and Forte leading their teams in crunch time. Mason will not go away from the spotlight until his senior season is over. There will be no breaks for the senior and he wouldn't want it any other way.
Wild Card: As a Kansas fan, I can tell you that we see these flashes of Vick where he looks like he could be a future National Player of the Year or NBA dunk contest winner (I know...not saying much anymore) still though, those are flashes. He does disappear, or better yet, doesn't quite take action in being part of the game at times. I think Self knows Vick and Svi Mykhailiuk need to be warmed up before the postseason so I expect them both to get serious minutes, but in the end I expect Vick to outplay Svi and continue bettering himself for the future. Vick could be a nightmare for the Cowboys if he gets going from three, or especially if the Cowboys let Kansas run in transition, because Vick can excel playing above the rim. Obviously this is a wild card seeing as it's not Josh Jackson, but I believe Vick should be a household name by the end of March. He is that vital to the Jayhawks’ success in the tournament.