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Bracket analysis: What the road to the Big 12 Championship looks like for the Cowboys

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Mac McClung is guarded by Avery Anderson III during Oklahoma State's game against Texas Tech in Gallagher-Iba Arena on Feb. 22, 2021. Photo courtesy: Courtney Bay/OSU Athletics

Avery Anderson scored 31 points, without Isaac Likekele and Cade Cunningham, the Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 85-80 to finish the regular season.

Now they’ll have to do it all over again.

OSU finished with a record of 18-7, 11-7 in the Big 12. This is the first time coach Mike Boynton has crossed double-digits in conference wins during his tenure. It’s only the second time the Cowboys have won more than 10 conference games in a season this decade.

They earned the No. 5 seed in the Big 12 Conference Tournament, and will face the No. 4 seed, West Virginia on Thursday.

The teams split the season series. West Virginia won the first game 87-84 on Jan. 4, and OSU won the second meeting on Saturday.

A win against WVU would likely match the Cowboys up against Baylor on Friday, unless TCU or Kansas State can upset the top-seeded Bears on Thursday.

The Cowboys are surging right now, and have become one of the hottest teams in college basketball. They’ve won five of their last six ranked matchups, including a season sweep of rival Oklahoma.

As a result, the national narrative of this team being just Cunningham and some other athletes has changed. Some say they are a legitimate threat in the NCAA Tournament.

Cunningham is still the leader of this team, but the emergence of Kalib Boone, Bryce Williams and Anderson, have created the atmosphere of a team that can contend nationally.

The most recent Big 12 Tournament champion, Iowa State, was a No. 5 seed when they won in 2019. With the momentum OSU has, they too can win the conference.

Even with a loss, OSU is projected to earn a No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi.