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Roundtable: Buying in to OSU Hoops, and Assessing the Team’s Postseason Ceiling

How high can OSU rise?



Devin Wilber/PFB

Oklahoma State in a span of two weeks has emerged from the wrong side of the bubble discussion to a legitimate NCAA Tournament team with five wins in six games culminating Saturday with a 79-73 win over No. 15 TCU inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The recent surge shows just how much potential this OSU team has and just how quickly it has grown from a write-off to a team with real aspirations not just to make it to March Madness — but to make it and advance.

So coming off the TCU win and inching closer to the best stretch of conference play ever for OSU under Mike Boynton, it’s time for a temperature heat check to see how we’re feeling about things.

I assembled the squad to help me process it all.

KB: I think I know Marshall’s answer here — he’s endlessly optimistic about OSU hoops sometimes to a fault — but I’ll pose this to the group nonetheless: Are you surprised with OSU’s recent turnaround? It has gone from NIT-bound to potentially playing its way safely into the projected NCAA Tournament field in just a matter of weeks.

Marshall: As you alluded to, I always thought this team was capable of this, but after a rough nonconference slate, it’s finally starting to realize its potential. Moussa Cisse going down with an ankle injury almost forced OSU to go small with Woody Newton at power forward, and that has brought fluidity to the offense, opening things up for Kalib Boone. Now the Cowboys can play big or small depending on what they need, making for a dangerous team down the stretch.

Cox: I’ll say I’m pleasantly surprised. I knew the Cowboys had the athleticism and defense to play with anybody, but this offensive renaissance, specifically Kalib Boone’s explosion, has been fun to watch. The Cowboys finally feel like they have most of the boxes checked when it comes to offensive pieces. The value of Calib Asberry and Woody Newton can’t be overstated.

KB: So let’s have a heat check moment here: What is this team’s ceiling? ranks OSU as the 10th-best (!) team in college hoops since OSU’s first Bedlam win a few weeks ago on Jan. 18. That’s second-best among all Big 12 teams behind West Virginia (!!). Is OSU a top 10 team in college basketball right now?

Marshall: I’m not ready to step out that far. I don’t know why the metrics love West Virginia as much as they do, so I think in this aspect, that may be a little flawed. But the Cowboys have proven they can compete with anyone in the Big 12, and when you can do that, you can compete with anyone in the country. But saying they are a top 10 team feels like a stretch.

Cox: I don’t know if I’d go that far, but I do think they can play with anyone. Again, playing through Kalib Boone gives OSU a chance to get points at will, and it opens things up on the perimeter. And the scary thing is that I still feel like there is some more that OSU can get out of Boone and Moussa Cisse playing together.

KB: Yeah, I think top-10 is a tad aggressive. But top 25? Easy. It’s wild they’ve played as well as they have of late especially given the injury bug that’s bitten a few times. They pulled off the TCU win without Avery Anderson, and Moussa Cisse, as everyone knows, has dealt with a lingering ankle injury for the better part of the last month. The Big 12 being so good this year has kind of quietly kept OSU hidden in the regular season, but the Pokes have been very, very solid for awhile now and I think they’re only getting better.

KB: OK, let’s quantify “ceiling” here and lay out some predictions. Will OSU appear in the NCAA Tournament? And if so, what seed will it be and how far will it advance?

Marshall: Yes, and I’ll say they avoid Dayton and get a nine of 10.

Cox: I think OSU will make it in if they keep it up. Somewhere around 9-10 seems right, depending on how they finish a pretty stout conference stretch.

KB: NCAA Tournament is officially in the cards. My bet is they wind up a 9 seed, win their first game then get humbled against whichever No. 1 seed it faces in Round 2. If it can climb to a 7 seed and get the right matchup it wouldn’t surprise at all if OSU made it to the second weekend. They have really quality guard play and two dominant forces down low in Kalib Boone and Moussa Cisse who are going to be nightmare draws for any team.

KB: OK, last time I’ll ask for predictions. OSU is 14-9 overall and 5-5 in Big 12 play with the following schedule left in the regular season. How many more conference wins in the regular season does OSU get? KenPom projects five, but four of those five wins are projected by a single possession.

Marshall: The Big 12 is such a slaughterhouse it’s impossible to predict. So with that, I’ll say four wins — just coin flip all these games. There is a somewhat realistic world where they could win six, but there is also a somewhat realistic world where they could lose six. It’s a bonkers league.

Cox: I’ll go four, picking OSU to go .500 the rest of the way, which would be a nice way to finish the season.

KB: I think there are four more wins out there, which should be the magic number to get OSU to the dance. Texas Tech will be two of them, home vs. Kansas State will be another, then I think they win either vs. Kansas on Valentine’s Day or home vs. Baylor two weeks after that.

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