And then there were two.
In the race for the Big 12 conference championship, an eight-day stretch may have nearly decided it all.
That stretch saw three of the four most important games left on the Big 12 schedule played and two teams rose as the clear cream of the crop in the conference.
Missouri and Kansas were those two teams and they now sit at the top of the Big 12 standings with identical 10-2 records. Their closest competitors are Iowa State and Baylor, tied at third in the conference with an 8-4 record.
What we learned about Baylor
Some may say that because the Bears went 0-4 against Missouri and Kansas this season, they won't be a threat come tournament time in March, but that's not a wise thought to have.
The Bears are still 21-4. Just think of it like they couldn't beat four top 5 teams. When you are talking about Kansas, an actual top-five team, the same thing is nearly true. The Jayhawks have five losses, including losses to three top ten teams (Duke, Kentucky and Missouri), so Baylor actually almost looks better in that regard, if it weren't for the 0-2 head-to-head record against Kansas.
The bottom line is that Baylor has a bunch of wins, takes care of business when it has to and will most likely be a top 3 or 4 seed when Selection Sunday rolls around. It's a shame that they won't be in the battle for a conference championship this season, but Baylor keeps building their brand in all sports and they will only continue to go up.
Missouri vs. Kansas
Doesn't it seem fitting that in the last year that these two bitter rivals will be conference mates, they are the ones battling for the conference crown in the latter stages of February? Kansas owns this series in a historic sense, but this year has been a little different, highlighted by the wildly entertaining game at Mizzou Arena in which Missouri ended the game on an 11-0 run to win 74-71.
Both teams have six games remaining, and while there could be some slipups along the way (Kansas @KSU, Missouri @Texas A&M), it seems like there will be one game to decide the crown.
That game that will be played on Feb. 25, and it will undoubtedly favor Kansas winning, but wilder things have happened in this rivalry and Missouri is hitting its stride at the right time.
Thomas Robinson, the favorite for Big 12 player of the year, will need to dominate in both halves of this game rather than waiting 20 minutes to get involved like he did in the game in Columbia.
Kansas fans will bring up the home-cooking refereeing that they believe Missouri got in the first matchup and say that they think the Jayhawks will get the same kind of favoritism at Allen Fieldhouse. That could be true, but the more important factor in this game will be the home crowd in Lawrence and the confidence Kansas gets from playing in its home gym.
Missouri hasn't won in Lawrence in its last 12 tries, so it's clear that they are facing an uphill battle. A close win at home doesn't really instill confidence in Tiger fans that they can go on the road and beat the same team, but it's certainly better than already having one loss against Kansas in the 2012.
In an earlier post for SB Nation, I predicted that Kansas would win this game and I stand by that prediction. That doesn't mean that these last 6 games are going to be any less thrilling though.
Stay strapped in, because it's gonna be a classic end to a great rivalry.