BIG 12 CONFERENCE
Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri
Record: 27-4, 15-3
There aren’t many teams hotter than the Jayhawks right now, who have won 11-straight Games. They’re headed for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament no matter what happens here. While they have won 12-straight regular season titles, KU has only won one Big 12 Tourney in the last Four years. Iowa State has taken the last two.
With the way the Jayhawks are playing, it’s hard to see them losing before the final. Even in the semis they’ll get either Texas or Baylor, two teams who they recently beat on the road. At this point, it’d be hard to bet against Kansas in this Tournament, especially being played less than an hOur from its campus.
Record: 24-7, 13-5
If someone was to upset KU, it could be the Mountaineers who split with the Jayhawks in the regular season. But still, they’ll have to reach the championship first.
West Virginia has won Four straight coming in and is probably the second-hottest team outside of Kansas. However, the Mountaineers will run in to Oklahoma or Iowa State in the semis, both of which could be tough matchups. On short rest, can their press be as effective?
Record: 24-6, 12-6
This was once Oklahoma’s Conference to lose, but the Sooners fell a bit in the last month of the season. Still, they could be headed for a 1-seed, as long as they get a couple wins in this Tournament.
The knock against the Sooners is that they have been fairly inconsistent on the road. With a heavy reliance on three pointers, there’s no telling how they’ll fair. It doesn’t help that they get to open this Tournament with Iowa State, a team they already split with. They’ll need a presence in the paint to win it.
Record: 20-11, 11-7
The Longhorns kind of came out of nowhere to finish with the 4-seed in the Big 12 Tourney. Unfortunately for them, they get to face Baylor first, a team they recently lost to by 14 points at home. Of course, Texas also won when the teams played in Baylor.
Another problem with this seeding is that even if the Longhorns win their first Game, they’ll get to take on Kansas for the third time. Those two just met last week with Kansas winning by 30 points… in Texas.
Record: 21-10, 10-8
The regular season didn’t end all that well for the Bears losing three of their final Four Games. The Bears will try and turn that around against Texas, but even with a win there, would meet Kansas next. Baylor will need to regroup quickly if it wants a shot in this Tournament, or even the NCAA Tournament for that matter.
Record: 21-10, 10-8
The Cyclones are a 6-seed in the Big 12 Tournament, but will likely get something better than that in the NCAA Tourney. The problem for them is that they can’t win away from home, now having lost Four straight road Games. A win over Oklahoma would change their outlook, but with a loss, not many will trust the Cyclones come March Madness.
Record: 19-11, 9-9
It’s been an incredible run for the Red Raiders this season and they’re likely headed for the NCAAs. No one expects them to make it further than the quarterfinals in this Tournament, but underrating Tubby Smith’s team hasn’t been a great strategy this season.
The Jayhawks are the obvious favorite to win this Tournament and it’s going to take a lot to take them down with the way they are playing, especially in Kansas City. It’s hard to see them not making the final, but there’s no doubt that West Virginia, Oklahoma and Iowa State all have a shot to knock them off in the championship.