BIG 12 CONFERENCE
Kansas City, MO
Record: 26-5, 14-4
The only team other than Kansas to have won the Big 12 Tournament since 2005 is Missouri and they are no longer in the conference. That might not be the case this year as the Jayhawks have not showed much consistency throughout the season. They were coasting back in February when they dropped three straight Games including an embarrassing loss at TCU. They had the chance to win the outright regular season title, but got destroyed by Baylor in the final Game.
KU has a chance to lock a No. 1 seed up by winning this Tournament which is an added bonus. Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey are great, but they’ll need help to advance far in the NCAA Tourney because shooting woes are the main reason for their losses.
Record: 25-6, 14-4
It wasn’t exactly the route they wanted to becoming the regular season co-champs, but they’ll take it. The Wildcats can beat any team in the Big 12, but they continually have problems with Kansas. If these teams face off in the Championship Game, the Jayhawks will be pretty good-sized favorites.
Rodney McGruder has led this team for two years now, but he’s been getting a lot of help from Angel Rodriguez lately. The problem with Rodriguez is that he’s small and that hurt against OK State in their last loss as he finished 3-of-16 from the field. With those two in the back cOurt and solid big men down low, the Wildcats are a team to watch out for.
Record: 23-7, 13-5
A lot of people are on OK State’s bandwagon because they have one of the biggest and best backcOurts in the nation. Marcus Smart and Markel Brown both come in well over six feet tall and they can both make things happen on the offensive end. The two have combined for over 30 points per Game this season. Of course, you can’t forget Le’Bryan Nash who’s right behind them in scoring and just as deadly as their small forward.
While they don’t have a great presence in the paint, this isn’t a team you want to face in the postseason. A bigger team will give them trouble, but the Big 12 doesn’t really have one of those. The Cowboys could easily win this Tournament.
Record: 20-10, 11-7
The Sooners are very much like the Cowboys in that they are a very athletic, but mid-sized team without a huge presence down low. The only problem is that they don’t have the same type of players that can take over Games. For instance, Oklahoma just lost at TCU, mainly because no one could help out Romero Osby on the offensive end.
They get a hungry Iowa State squad in their first Game which could be a problem. The teams split on the year, with both home teams grabbing big wins. The Sooners could be slated for an early exit in the Big Dance too if they don’t get the right matchup.
Record: 21-10, 11-7
Expect a lot of three-pointers and an exciting Game when you watch the Cyclones play. They take as many long-range shots as possible and don’t play a ton of defense. That explains why they’ve scored at least 83 points in eight straight Games. Their opening Game against Oklahoma is close to a must-win because ISU is currently slated as an 11-seed on the bubble.
Record: 18-13, 9-9
Baylor gets OK State in their first Game and is in a must-win situation. With a loss, they will likely miss out on the Big Dance. This is a team that looks great from the outside, but they have trouble putting things together.
Pierre Jackson is short, but he can make things happen from the point guard spot. He filled the stat sheet with 28 points, six boards and 10 assists in their last win against Kansas. Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin will also have to repeat their performances from that Game. Both are big guys that can cause plenty of problems for opposing defenses. As long as they play big and fight for boards, this is a tough team to beat.
This is the Fourth straight year the Tournament has taken place at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. It’s basically a home Game for the two Kansas schools as a lot of their fans can be found in the Kansas City area. Missing from the Tourney is Missouri who was the other school in close proximity. Due to those reasons alone, a rematch of Kansas-Kansas State is very possible in the Championship Game. since the Jayhawks have their number, it’s best to assume they’ll win another Tournament. Still, don’t be surprised if Iowa State pulls the upset in the semifinals. If that Game does happen, it’s going to be a must-watch as their first two meetings ended in overtime.