Each weekday, our college hoops experts discuss the biggest issues, trends and themes in college basketball.
1. Iowa State has that tendency to get in a funk. It lost three of four early in January and now has lost three of its past five. What goes wrong for the Cyclones that leads to these dry spells?
Andy Katz: This is a team that has a thin margin for error, so injuries have taken their toll. But the Cyclones will be fine. They will be in the mix for a top-four Big 12 finish. This is a potential second-weekend NCAA tournament team.
Myron Medcalf: The Cyclones just haven't finished games. That's been a major factor in their challenges. Six of their seven losses? Five points or less. They haven't been blown out. The Cyclones just need to focus in the final minutes.
C.L. Brown: Fatigue has to be a factor. When Nazareth Mitrou-Long was shut down for the season, it left the Cyclones with a small rotation in arguably the toughest conference to navigate. Some of their stumbles down the stretch have come because they simply don't have the bodies to keep players fresh.
2. West Virginia has Texas, Oklahoma and Iowa State in a six-day stretch beginning Tuesday against the Longhorns. What will the Mountaineers' record be against these three, and will they still be tied or at the top of the Big 12 race when this stretch is over?
Katz: I will go with 2-1, leaving them one game out. It's too rugged a slate to sweep. The Big 12 champion will have at least four losses, if not five.
Medcalf: The advantage is that they'll have two of those games at home. It's hard to win in their building. But that's a cruel three-game stretch. I think WVU will go 2-1 and end that chapter in second place behind Kansas.
Brown: I'll go with 1-2, and the Mountaineers will drop into a tie for third. Both Texas and Oklahoma have already beaten them once. Iowa State is capable of coming in on the back of a dreaded Saturday-Monday turnaround and winning. I don't think they can navigate that tough stretch without stumbling.
3. Is there any chance Ohio State can play its way into the NCAA tournament?
Katz: Sure. Four of the Buckeyes' final five games are against teams that are going to be in the field, including two against Michigan State. If the Buckeyes go 4-1, why not? A win over Kentucky has value. Finishing strong counts. Beating teams in the field matters. Will they? Probably not. But can they? Sure.
Medcalf: The Big Ten tournament title seems like the only path to a bid for a team with three sub-100 losses. The Buckeyes probably need a crown in Indy unless they win every game down the stretch and enter the conference tourney in need of another quality win or two.
Brown: The Buckeyes are a year away, and there's nothing wrong with that. They just had too many young players in crucial roles this season to expect much else. As long as transfers or ill-advised draft declarations don't decimate their roster, they should be in the Big Ten's upper tier next season.