Why the Oklahoma State Cowboys Could Be Back In the NCAA Tournament Conversation

Peter Casey – US Presswire

The Oklahoma State Cowboys may be the biggest beneficiaries of the departures of the Texas A&M Aggies and Missouri Tigers from the Big 12 Conference.

The physical void in the conference may be filled by the TCU Horned Frogs and West Virginia Mountaineers but the balance of power favors the Cowboys, at least for now.

OSU’s rebounding (38.5 per-game) has been its greatest attribute throughout the Cowboys’ 10-1 record to start the season, albeit against a less-than stellar slate of non-conference teams.

Oklahoma State’s lone loss came in a 10-point defeat at the hands of the Virginia Tech Hokies and biggest win was against the then-No.6 North Carolina State Wolfpack.

Now that Cowboys coach Travis Ford is in his fifth season, he’s had the benefit of seeing an entire recruiting class go through his system and entrench his coaching style throughout the program. For a coach like Ford, that manes having big, athletic and versatile guards that compliment post players that command the post.

The only gripe against Ford’s non-conference schedule this season is that most of Oklahoma State’s non-conference foes don’t come from major conferences. If a Big 12 team can’t out-rebound a team from the Southland Conference, something’s wrong.

Additionally, Ford’s non-conference slate at OSU has never been daunting. What he’s got to realize is that the Cowboys would be much more prepared for conference play if they regularly played major-conference teams in OSU’s non-conference schedule.

The Cowboys have nine players with no more than a pair of collegiate seasons under their belt and need to be tested a lot harder on a consistent basis because the Big 12 can be pretty unforgiving.

Ford has arguably the most well-rounded squad of his tenure as the Cowboys’ head man, with seven players averaging at least three rebounds per-contest. If OSU can overcome its fouling and turnover problems, the Big 12 could be dangerously open this season.

Mike Gillmeister can be reached at mgillmei@gmail.com or on Twitter: @mgillmei

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