Sprint Center, Kansas City, Missouri
Record: 24-7, 13-5
The Jayhawks won their 14th straight regular season title, but that doesn’t mean anything for the Tournament considering they’ve won just one of the last Four. While they’ll be favored, this is still a team that eked out numerous wins all season and even got swept by Oklahoma State. On the other end of that, they’ve beaten all of the top teams on the road and have the best player in the Conference in Devonte’ Graham. With the improvement of Udoka Azuibuike, Kansas also has a big that can compete with any of the frontcOurts in the conference. The Schedule is interesting with what could be a third Game against OK State in the quarterfinals or a meeting with Trae Young and Oklahoma. But in the semis, the Jayhawks would get two teams they’ve already swept in TCU and K State.
Record: 23-8, 11-7
The Red Raiders may be the hardest team to project in this Tournament after losing Four-straight Games to looking back to normal in their most recent Game against TCU. A rematch with Texas would be fun as they split in the regular season, while WVU or Baylor is possible in the semis. Betting on Tech would mean you think they’re back to midseason form when it won seven-straight Games in the Big 12. If that’s the case, the Red Raiders would be a great bet. The good news is that Keenan Evans looked healthy and scored 23 points in 26 minutes last Game.
Record: 22-9, 11-7
Nothing changed for the Mountaineers this season, which means they’ll be a hard team to trust to win this Tournament. They made the final (but lost) in the last two years and those were the only two times they’ve played in the championship Game. They lost numerous Games after having leads throughout the season and are hard to trust whenever the Game is close in the final few minutes. That means winning three Games in three days may be a stretch for a team that presses.
Record: 21-10, 10-8
The Wildcats have maybe the most interesting resume in the conference, beating everyone except the best teams. They were swept by Kansas, West Virginia and Texas Tech and lost recently at TCU. Unfortunately, they could face Kansas again in the semifinals, which is reason enough not to back K State to win this Tournament.
Record: 21-10, 9-9
The same could be said for the Horned Frogs as they were also swept by Kansas. To back either TCU or Kansas State would mean you believe they can get past Kansas. At this point, there’s no reason to believe that, especially for the Frogs, which struggled mightily in road Games this season, finishing with just three true road wins all season.
Record: 18-12, 8-10
There will likely be people that throw money on the Sooners simply because of Trae Young. Unfortunately, that’s not a good enough reason for a team that hasn’t looked above average since early January. To go with that, their last road win came back in January against TCU. Even if they get past OK State in the first Game, there’s little reason to suggest they’ll have enough against the Jayhawks after KU won the last meeting 104-74.
Kansas is the favorite and easiest team to back and the Schedule sets up nicely for the Jayhawks to reach the championship Game. Teams like Baylor and Texas haven’t been mentioned, but don’t expect either of them to make a run to the title Game. The biggest contenders would probably have to be Texas Tech and West Virginia as both teams gave Kansas plenty of issues in previous matchups this season. If Keenan Evans is healthy, the Red Raiders may be the best underdog bet to upend Kansas.