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NCAA Hoops: Texas, Oklahoma, and Baylor need to show out in Big XII Tournament

The Longhorns will need two good performances this week to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament. Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Big XII tournament kicks off tomorrow with several teams in need of wins to have a shot to play in the NCAA tournament. Here are a few things to know going into the conference championship. 

SCHEDULE: 

Wednesday, March 7th

GAME 1: No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma (ESPNU) 6 PM

GAME 2: No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 Iowa State (ESPNU) 8 PM

Thursday, March 8th

GAME 3: No. 4 Kansas State vs. No. 5 TCU (ESPN2) 11:30 AM

GAME 4: No. 1 Kansas vs. Game 1 winner (ESPN2) 1:30 PM

GAME 5: No. 2 Texas Tech vs. Game 2 winner (ESPN2) 6 PM

GAME 6: No. 3 West Virginia vs. No. 6 Baylor (ESPN2) 8 PM

Friday, March 9th

GAME 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner (ESPN 2) 6 PM

GAME 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner (ESPN2) 8 PM

Saturday March 10th

GAME 9-Championship Game: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner (ESPN) 5 PM

 

ODDS:

Kansas +200

West Virginia +350

Texas Tech +450

Kansas State +700

TCU +1000

Baylor +1200

Texas +2000

Oklahoma +2000

Oklahoma State +2000

Iowa State +2500


THE STAKES: 

Kansas, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas State and TCU are all solidly locked into tournament spots. Iowa State can’t make the tournament without winning the conference tourney. That leaves Baylor, Texas and the Oklahoma schools as bubble teams. With Oklahoma and Oklahoma State going up against each other in the first game, one of them could be eliminated early on. For Oklahoma, a first round win may be enough to lock in their spot. Oklahoma State would likely need a win over Kansas to get an at-large bid. Texas absolutely has to beat Iowa State, and would need a good showing against Texas Tech on Thursday to have a shot. This isn’t out of the question, given that Keenan Evans is clearly not at 100% health. Baylor could get onto the right side of the bubble with a win over West Virginia. Overall, the conference should send a minimum of 6 teams to the dance, with 8 teams being the ceiling. 


PREDICTIONS: 

Oklahoma State def. Oklahoma

Texas def. Iowa State

 

TCU def. Kansas State

Kansas def. Oklahoma State

Texas Tech def. Texas

Baylor def. West Virginia

 

Kansas def. TCU

Baylor def. Texas Tech

Kansas def. Baylor

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Houston's losing streak extended to five games

With key Astros missing, Detroit completes the series sweep

An overall bad day for the Astros on Wednesday. Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

On Wednesday afternoon, the Astros received a big blow to their chances in the series finale against Detroit and potentially longer. Five players: Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez, Martin Maldonado, and Robel Garcia would all be moved to the IL due to health and safety protocols, leaving them scrambling to get a whole team together for the game against the Tigers.

The Astros would not be able to overcome both the loss of players and the onslaught of another strong start by Detroit in Wednesday's game which put them too far out front for Houston to come back from to avoid a series sweep.

Final Score: Tigers 6, Astros 4

Astros' Record: 6-6, third in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Michael Fulmer (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1)

Tigers knock out another starter early

Detroit continued their success of making Houston's starter work hard in early innings, getting after Lance McCullers Jr., and giving him an early exit. After a lengthy fist, they broke through in the second getting two hits, a walk, a hit batter, and an RBI groundout to put up three runs on 34 pitches.

He would have a quicker 1-2-3 third, but after giving up a single, a walk, and hitting another batter to load the bases and reach 87 pitches, he would be removed in favor of Joe Smith. Smith would allow all three of the inherited runners to score, adding those runs to McCullers Jr.'s final line: 3.2 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 87 P.

Astros try to claw back into it

After Smith would go on to load the bases again in the inning, still with two outs, Houston made another pitching change to bring in Brandon Bielak to get the third out and stop the bleeding at 6-0. The Astros would get on the board in the fifth, getting a runner on base to set up a two-run homer by Jason Castro to cut the lead to 6-2.



Bielak remained in the game to try and eat up as many innings as possible. While he continued to hold the Tigers to their six runs through the six innings, the Astros clawed back into the game. In the bottom of the sixth, Houston put their first two batters on base with a walk and single before an RBI-single by Yuli Gurriel to make it 6-3. They would threaten for more but be held there for the time being.

Astros can't cash in, Tigers complete sweep

Ryne Stanek was Houston's next reliever in the top of the seventh, getting a 1-2-3 frame to keep it a three-run game, as did Brooks Raley in the eighth. In the home part of the inning, the Astros put their first two runners on base on an error and a walk, then loaded them with a one-out single by Carlos Correa. They'd waste their chance to make something happen, though, with an inning-ending double-play.

Ryan Pressly, who had no save opportunities in recent games, entered to get some work in the top of the ninth. He worked around a leadoff double for a scoreless inning, sending the 6-3 game to the bottom of the ninth. The Astros had yet another chance to make something happen, loading the bases with no outs to bring the go-ahead run to the plate. After two outs, Yuli Gurriel would bring one run in with a walk, but that's as close as they'd come, extending their losing streak to five games and getting swept by the Tigers.

Up Next: Houston will get a much-needed day off tomorrow to try and leave this poor homestand behind them. They'll pick things up in Seattle on Friday, with first pitch of the opener of three games at 9:10 PM Central. The expected pitching matchup is Jose Urquidy (0-1, 5.23 ERA) for the Astros and Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 3.75 ERA) for the Mariners.

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