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Friday, March 11, 2011
Big 12 semifinals preview

By David Ubben

Can Kansas handle Colorado’s guards?

The Jayhawks beat Colorado by just four in Boulder earlier this year, but their undersized guards had big problems guarding the Buffaloes’ duo of Cory Higgins and Alec Burks, 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-6, respectively. Both players shot at least 50 percent from the field in their first matchup and combined for 44 of Colorado’s 78 points. Another big day for the pair, this time in Kansas City, could mean a Buffaloes upset this time around.

Is Texas' swoon officially over?

The Longhorns reached No. 2 in the polls before losing three of their final five games of the regular season, raising questions about a drop-off similar to last season, when Texas reached No. 1 in the country before falling into a tailspin and an eight seed, finished off by an opening-day exit in the tournament. Though Texas played well against rival Oklahoma on Thursday, beating the Sooners won’t impress many. Beating another rival, Texas A&M, on Friday night and taking home the trophy on Saturday would provide the right answers for all the questions about Texas heading into the tournament.

Is the urgency still there for Colorado?

Thanks to wins over Kansas State -- the Buffaloes' third this season over the Wildcats -- and Iowa State, Colorado looks to have secured a bid to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2003. Now, they’ll face a huge test against No. 2 Kansas. The Buffaloes played like their season was on the line against Kansas State because it largely was. Will that urgency continue?

Can the Aggies keep rolling on offense?

Texas A&M got plenty of easy looks and knocked down jumpers against Missouri’s frenzied defense, finishing 26-of-45 (57 percent) from the field. It hung 86 points on the Tigers and made 8 of 16 from 3-point range. The Aggies' top three scorers also shot a combined 17-of-24 for 56 points. Those are impressive numbers, but don’t look for them to continue against Texas, a defense giving up just over 60 points a game and highlighted by Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Dogus Balbay. If the Aggies can come anywhere close to the type of offensive performance they had in a win over Missouri on Thursday, they could find themselves in the title game on Saturday.