Big-12 Final Four

Tony Salinas: Virtual "Conference Final Four" Saturday in the Big 12

It's been a lot of fun watching the Big 12 race play itself out so far this season. I've been focusing on that recently because of my roots in the state of Texas. You can put a Texan in Las Vegas...but he's still a Texan. A few dozen poker players can tell you about that!

Over the last two weeks, we've seen Oklahoma State and Oklahoma establish themselves as the most obvious contenders to win the Big 12 and crash the national Final Four tournament.

*Oklahoma State crushed TCU, which we previewed two weeks ago and recapped last week. They owned the yards-per-play category while winning the turnover category 4-0. TCU had been lucky to win at Texas Tech, while Okie State won a blowout in Lubbock. The evidence seems pretty clear right now that Oklahoma State is better than TCU.

*Oklahoma beat up Baylor last Saturday night, winning on the scoreboard 44-34, in total yards 511-416, and in takeaways 3-1. It wasn't quite as impressive at first glance as what OSU did to TCU. But, this was a ROAD game for the Sooners...and "Big Game" Bob Stoops made a few choices that got in the way. Still...Oklahoma had been priced as "better than Baylor" with a low spread of +2.5 in Waco. They confirmed they were better than Baylor.

Normally, that would set up OU/OSU over Thanksgiving Weekend as the championship game. Not so fast! These members of the Big Four swap partners this week...which allows TCU and Baylor to get right back into the mix in a virtual Big 12 Final Four. That's important because the betting markets still aren't sold on Okie State!

*Baylor is pick-em at Oklahoma State Saturday evening (on FOX). Since Okie State usually gets at least three points for home field...and sometimes 3.5 or 4 points...that's telling you that respected Power Ratings see Baylor as the superior team.'s hard to justify that given what we just watched the last two weeks! But, you have to respect Baylor's talent...the chip on the shoulder Baylor will have after a home loss...and the "choke" potential that Okie State may be starting to deal with. Baylor will have a decent-enough resume if they beat Oklahoma State and TCU to finish the season 11-1 as champs or co-champs of the Big 12.

*TCU will be visiting Oklahoma under a big injury cloud. No line has been posted as I write this. We have a very interesting situation developing here where TCU has become a "no chance," team. By that, I mean that everyone in the Texas media is telling them that they now have "no chance" to win the Big 12 because of all their injuries. As you've heard me say many times in the past...when a team hears they have "no chance," they'll do whatever it takes to prove you wrong. Could Oklahoma be flat off a big win after reading how bleak things are for TCU?

There's still a good chance OU/OSU will be for the Big 12 championship and a spot in the Final Four because both teams won their games this Saturday. I think it will be very difficult for the selection committee to keep the Big 12 winner out if one of those teams wins all three of their late season challenge games. We could have a real headache though if Oklahoma State loses to Baylor, but then beats Oklahoma. Or, if TCU springs an upset this week.

Wouldn't it be something if the #4 spot in the Final Four comes down to Notre Dame and Oklahoma...and the Irish get the invite because they beat Texas while Oklahoma suffered an inexplicable loss to the Horns in Dallas? There's a lot of football to be played, but that is very much on the table. (Even if Charlie Strong bolts for Miami, he'll leave knowing he did Longhorn Nation a favor by keeping Oklahoma out of the Dance!)

Who will TONY SALINAS be picking this weekend? You regulars know I usually focus on underdogs or very small favorites. Oklahoma State is certainly on my radar because oddsmakers seem a bit stubborn about docking Baylor for the injury to its starting quarterback...and about recognizing Oklahoma State's ability to perform in big games. That could easily be part of an action-heavy mix. Be sure you check out the home page at Vegas-Sports-Masters every day to see what the only PROFESSIONAL GAMBLER in the sports handicapping field has to offer.

If you have any questions about this weekend or "rest of the season" service in football, CLICK HERE or call the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155 and ask about TONY SALINAS. This is also a great time to check out my nightly basketball. Pro bettors GET THE BEST OF IT in all sports.

I'll see you next week to talk about the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving Day home game. This year it's the currently undefeated Carolina Panthers who come to visit. Big test for Tony Romo and the boys.

Let's go make some money before the holidays get here. GET THE BEST OF IT WITH TONY SALINAS!


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