Central Florida Knights vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys Pick & Prediction MARCH 12th 2024

UCF and Oklahoma State look to keep alive their dreams for a longshot NCAA Tournament bid when they square off on Tuesday in the first round of the Big 12 Conference tournament in Kansas City, Mo.

The winner of Tuesday’s game will advance to play fifth-seeded BYU in the second round on Wednesday afternoon. The 12th-seeded Knights, which tied for 11th in their debut season in the league, and 13th-seeded Cowboys, which ended up tied for last, would need to win the Big 12 tournament to earn a berth in the NCAAs.

The Knights (16-14) head to their first Big 12 tourney after a stirring 79-77 win at TCU on Saturday. Darius Johnson led UCF with a career-high 33 points while Jaylin Sellers had 14 before fouling out and Ibrahima Diallo hit for 12 in the upset, which the Knights produced after losing eight of their previous 11 games.

“When we’re making shots, we know we can compete and win games like (the win over TCU),” Knights coach Johnny Dawkins said. “We haven’t done that consistently. We talked about stepping up and closing out games, and we did that. … I like where we are heading to Kansas City.”

UCF can make some noise in the tournament after beating Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech at home this season and defeating Texas and TCU on the road.

The Cowboys (12-19) head to the conference tournament after an 85-71 loss at BYU on Saturday. Javon Small poured in career highs of 34 points and five 3-pointers for Oklahoma State, which has dropped five consecutive contests.

“We have to have a sense of energy,” Cowboys freshman forward Justin McBride said. “We need to come back in the Big 12 and do it for our seniors. We have to have that urgency.”

If the Cowboys can get past UCF, they could scramble things in the tournament. One of Oklahoma State’s four Big 12 wins was against BYU, so there would be a confidence factor if they play the Cougars.

“I’m proud of the team’s fight,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said. “We have to get to Kansas City and get ready for UCF on Tuesday.”

UCF beat the Cowboys 77-71 on the road on Feb. 28 in the only game between the teams this season.

–Field Level Media

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