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BIG 12 CONFERENCE
Sprint Center, Kansas City, MO
Record: 23-8, 14-4
Kansas has a shot for a No. 1 overall seed if they win this tournament, but the important thing for them is to get Joel Embiid healthy. Unfortunately, he will have to miss the entire Big 12 tourney and the early rounds of the NCAA tournament. Even then, he’s not a guarantee to return. Without him, the Jayhawks could be in trouble. Their first matchup will be super interesting and will likely be against Oklahoma State. From there, another date with Iowa State could be in the making.
The Jayhawks are the favorites to win, but it’s going to be extremely difficult without Embiid in the middle. As seen in the West Virginia game, KU isn’t the same team. Someone other than Andrew Wiggins will have to step up in this tourney if they want momentum going into the Big Dance.
Record: 23-8, 12-6
It’s surprising to see Oklahoma as the 2-seed in this conference, but they deserved it. The Sooners are locked into a 5-seed for the big tourney unless they can win this one. Much like the Jayhawks, the seeding doesn’t do much help for OU. They’ll likely get a hot Baylor team in their opening game and Texas in the next one.
While the Sooners swept both of those teams in the regular season, tournaments are a different story. The line for their probable matchup with Baylor will likely be pretty even with the Sooners having a slight edge.
Record: 22-9, 11-7
Much like the Sooners, Texas is a lock for a 6-seed in March Madness unless something crazy happens to teams around them. Unfortunately for the Longhorns, they aren’t playing their best basketball right now with four losses in six games and their last one coming against Texas Tech. The good news is that West Virginia is a good matchup for them. While the Mountaineers need a couple wins to advance to the NCAA tourney, it’s going to be extremely difficult to pull the upset.
Texas has the bigs in Jonathan Holmes and Cameron Ridley to dominate down low, but also the speedy guards to keep up with WVU’s best players. From there, the Longhorns could get Oklahoma for a third time. With the way they’ve been playing, it’s hard to see Texas advancing into the championship game of this tourney.
Record: 23-7, 11-7
Despite being fourth in the Big 12, Iowa State is looking like the second-best team nationwide. The Cyclones could lock up a No. 3 seed in the NCAAs, but a loss could drop them a spot. ISU gets Kansas State in the first game which is very winnable. The teams split this year with two closely contested games with both home teams winning.
Iowa State continues to have trouble playing at the same level away from home, but that will have to start here. They have the playmakers to put in a run, but getting past a tricky KSU team won’t be easy. After that, they’ll need to beat Kansas or OK State which definitely won’t be easy. The Cyclones have the players to advance to the championship, but with how much they’ve struggled against the Jayhawks, it’s hard to see them winning that game. They’ll need to hit their shots, that’s for sure.
Record: 20-11, 10-8
The Wildcats have been very up-and-down this year and have slowly fallen to the 8-9 seed range in projected brackets and could even fall to 10 if they lose to Iowa State. Outside of Marcus Foster, this team lacks a consistent threat to score every game. Foster, a freshman, has been a beast for Kansas State, but others like Shane Southwell and Thomas Gipson aren’t doing enough each game.
KSU has a tough first game, but even if they get by the Cyclones, it’s hard to see them advancing to the championship.
Record: 20-10, 9-9
The Bears were on the bubble, but have since won seven of eight games and are now suddenly in the 8-9 range with a chance to move up to a 7-seed if they can win a couple games. First up is TCU, who they already beat on the road by 33 points. Then they’ll get an Oklahoma team they were swept by, although that was during their losing period.
Don’t put it past Baylor to make it a game and possibly beat Oklahoma. They have the size to do it and Kenny Chery has been excellent as a freshman on the outside.
Record: 20-11, 8-10
Here’s yet another Big 12 team in the 8-9 range, and like the others, a couple upsets could move them up, especially if they beat Kansas again. The Cowboys are coming off an unfortunate loss at Iowa State where they should have won. Since Marcus Smart came back, this team has looked different and ready for a tourney run.
While there are others in this conference that don’t have the squad to win this tourney, Oklahoma State is not one of them. Even as an 8-seed in the Big 12, they can reach the championship game.
West Virginia is the only other notable team in this conference, as they are a 6-seed. They had a poor non-conference showing and need two upsets to be considered for the Big Dance.
The Big 12 tourney is truly a toss-up and there isn’t a true favorite by any means. It’s hard to take Kansas with the way they looked without Embiid this year and no other team is all that dominant. Teams that have the best chances to win outside of Kansas include Oklahoma, Iowa State and Oklahoma State.
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