At Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Oklahoma tonight, the Sooners and Oklahoma State Cowboys square off for the second time this season in the bitter in-state rivalry now known as the Bedlam Series.
Neither team is ranked in the top 25 this year, but don't tell them—don't tell the state of Oklahoma for that matter. Sports fans won't get a better show than the emotion and passions displayed when these two squads play each other.
There are no professional teams in Oklahoma, so the focus is squarely on Norman and Stillwater. No matter the contest, each school and each city will pride itself on their team while tearing apart the other. Each game in this storied rivalry begins a new chapter in a book that has seen everything.
But tonight's game is more than a simple contest between the two schools. An invitation to the Big Dance is looming...
Oklahoma State comes into tonight's matchup as the hottest team in the Big 12 right now, after winning five straight conference games, one of which confronted juggernaut Kansas.
Meanwhile the Cowboys, at 7-7, have positioned themselves in a three-way tie for the fifth spot in the Big 12 standings.
Currently Kansas and Texas lead the Big 12 at 12-3, followed by Kansas State (9-6) and Baylor (8-6). Now you begin to see why the whole Big 12 will experience Bedlam, and not just the teams from Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Texas A&M are all sitting at 7-7, with Texas Tech close behind at 7-8.
The Big 12 has already had several instant-classic games this season, such as the Baylor and A&M five-OT game. But the season is coming to a close and teams are desperately vying for their spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The Big 12 could see as many as six teams in the NCAA tournament this year. As of now, however, Texas and Kansas are the only locks.
Both OU and OSU are coming off key victories, but will be tested this evening.
Tonight's Bedlam game will test the Sooners. They will be without top scorer and rebounder Blake Griffin, who is averaging 15.2 points a game and 9.3 rebounds.
The Sooners will also have to play with a struggling Longar, who has been plagued by decreased mobility since breaking a bone in his right leg early last month.
The Cowboys' top scorer, James Anderson, is a averaging 14 points but only scored four points in the earlier contest against Oklahoma this year. Since Anderson is a true freshman, perhaps he will perform better tonight now that he has more experience under his belt.
However, I expect Marcus Dove, the big senior, to step up big for the Cowboys tonight.
It will be a thrill to see these two teams go at it, especially with Big 12 Tournament berths at stake, along with a possible NCAA bid. The Cowboys will be riding their momentum into this game along with their home court advantage. But don't count those Sooners out. They have had, after all, two miraculous buzzer-beating three-pointers to win close contests earlier this year.
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