After six consecutive losses do the Oklahoma State Cowboys deserve a bid to the NCAA tournament? Before Big 12 Conference play began, this would’ve been a preposterous question. During non-conference play the Cowboys looked like they had the potential to be much more then just a member of the field of 68. Oklahoma State looked like a team that could run away with the NCAA Championship. Then the wheels began to fall off for the Cowboys in their non-conference finale against Robert Morris.
A torn Achilles in the opening minutes for center Michael Cobbins was the first major blow to the program. Cobbins was an underrated player for the Cowboys who did the dirty work to allow Oklahoma State’s big three opportunities to elevate their games to new heights. To make matters worse, Stevie Clark was arrested almost immediately following the Cobbins injury. Clark was arrested a second time and subsequently booted from the team.
This pitted the Cowboys with a depth dilemma. While the Cowboys have had their issues with depth, they have arguably the best player in the country on their team. Guard Marcus Smart has done his best to keep the Cowboys afloat, but lost his composure last Saturday when he shoved a Texas Tech fan. Regardless of what was said and what was heard in the exchange, the shove has led to a three-game suspension.
In the first two games of the three-game suspension, the Cowboys have had to replace their best player with no depth to speak of. The absence of Smart has led to players like Mason Cox seeing floor time. Cox was discovered from the Oklahoma State women’s scout team. Cox had not picked up a basketball until his freshman year in college.
Big Monday will prove to be the epitome of Thunderdome for two Big 12 teams that were a combined 24-2 in non-conference play — the Cowboys and Baylor Bears — but find themselves potentially missing the NCAA tournament. If either team wants to punch their ticket to the big dance, they must find a way to win.
Jack Dooley is a Big 12 Basketball writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @JackDooleyRS.