The Big 12 Conference has a basketball commercial with the theme “every game counts.”
The KCAC needs to piggyback on that saying.
We’re heading into the final three weeks of regular-season play, and both the men’s and women’s races are bottlenecked as tri-leaders head both divisions.
On the men’s side, Tabor, Bethany and Saint Mary are 9-3, with Friends a game back at 8-4 and Southwestern still hanging on by a thread at 7-5.
The top eight teams make the postseason, with the four-highest finishers earning home games. There are six games left before the tournament.
On the men’s side, I like the position Bethany is in as far as controlling its own destiny. The Swedes are undefeated since standout Gary Jones got his academics in order, and they host both Tabor and Saint Mary. They do have to play at Southwestern and Friends, and don’t overlook the last game of the season at Sterling.
Bethany coach Clair Oleen has arguably the best collection of individual talent, but I still think Tabor has the best team. The Bluejays also have a schedule advantage in that they play four of their last six at home and they own perhaps the best homecourt edge of any team. The only road games are the before-mentioned game with Bethany and a date in Salina against last-place Kansas Wesleyan.
If one team does emerge as a champion, it’s going to be Tabor, especially now since the versatile Lance Carter has been reinstated. Bethany is my runner-up.
On the women’s side, Friends, Tabor and Kansas Wesleyan are all 9-3, with Southwestern a game back at 8-4 and Ottawa has a faint pulse at 7-5. The edge in my opinion goes to Friends, since it’s home four of its last six games. A big game takes place on Saturday when Friends hosts Southwestern, which in my opinion is still the second-best team in the KCAC.
Tabor does have four of its last six games at home, but I don’t think the Bluejays are on par with Friends and Southwestern at this point in the season.
All of this makes for an exciting final three weeks as there are still plenty of twists and turns. You never know which second-division team might rise up and spring an upset.
My money is still on Tabor for the men and Friends for the women.