Kansas takes on Texas A&M Wednesday leading up to Saturday's matchup against Missouri
Saturday is circled on the calendar. It has been circled since the Jayhawks let a late eight point lead slip away in Columbia three weeks ago. And after big wins on the road in Waco and Manhattan Kansas the Jayhawks are now sitting in a position to zero in on an eighth consecutive Big 12 title if they can handle Missouri in the final game between the two at Allen Fieldhouse.
That of course assumes the Jayhawks aren't caught looking ahead. This Wednesday Kansas heads down to College Station for their second to last Big 12 road game where they will play the Aggies of A&M. It's an interesting matchup because the Aggies gave Kansas a little trouble in the first matchup in Lawrence before losing Dash Harris to injury in the early going. The Aggies were also without Khris Middleton who is one of the primary reasons A&M was viewed as a Big 12 title contender prior to the season.
Now Kansas will face an A&M team at full strength. Middleton is back and Harris was just recently cleared to practice and will likely play on Wednesday. That means that the team Kansas faces on Wednesday night will be a better team than the one Kansas faced in Lawrence.
Those factors make this game a much bigger one for the Jayhawks than it would appear on paper. Eyeballing this one you have a 13-13 Aggie team that has posted just 4 league wins up against a 21 win Jayhawk team that is tied for first. But A&M is a team that also made a late run against Missouri and was one charge call away from a one possession game.
It's a situation where a team faced a lot of adversity early on and has since regrouped and could be primed for a late season upset over a contender. A win would give A&M something to hang their hat on toward the end of a tough season and perhaps give them some momentum heading into the Big 12 tournament.
For Kansas to avoid the upset they'll have to avoid looking ahead. Missouri is right there waiting and Kansas can all but secure at least a share of the title with a win but they have to get by A&M first. Do that, win against Missouri and Kansas has a one game lead with two to play. Bill Self and the Jayhawks haven't lost two in row since 2006 so even though there is a possibility they could still drop on game and pull back to even with Missouri, they aren't likely to drop two.
It's an end of the year scenario that plays out perfectly if you're a fan of great rivalries and if you're a fan of Kansas or Missouri. But it all starts Wednesday when Kansas will have to handle a tougher than expected opponent on the road in order to give themselves the opportunity they are wanting.