Big 12 Tournament PreviewPosted by rtmsf on March 9th, 2010
Patrick Sellars is the RTC correspondent for the Big 12 Conference. The Big 12 Tournament begins on Wednesday at Noon CT.
- Kansas (15-1, 29-2) - Obviously the Jayhawks are above and beyond the best team in the Big 12, and regardless of what they do in the Big 12 Tournament, KU will be a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, this season has been a wildly successful one for the Jayhawks, but Bill Self and his team will not be satisfied unless they’re hoisting the trophy in Indianapolis.
- Kansas State (11-5, 24-6) - After losing two straight games, one to Kansas in Lawrence and another to lowly Iowa State at home, its safe to say that KSU backed its way into the Big 12 Tournament. Kansas State was one of the many surprise teams in the conference this year, and they’ll hope to continue surprising people all the way into April.
- Baylor (11-5, 24-6) – This is probably the best team in college basketball that few people are really talking about. Ranked #20 in the nation, Baylor has the resume to be a three seed in the NCAA tournament. After where I picked this team in my preseason poll, I think Scott Drew is a safe pick for my coach of the year in the Big 12.
- Texas A&M (11-5, 22-8) - After the loss of Derrick Roland I thought the Aggies were done. But behind great leadership from Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis, TAMU had a legitimate shot at finishing in second place. Even though they didn’t achieve that feat, Mark Turgeon’s team looks pretty good heading into the conference tournament as the winners of three straight. I think if anyone is going to beat Kansas again it could be the Aggies from A&M.
- Missouri (10-6, 22-9) - The Tigers are still adjusting to life without Justin Safford (1-2 without him, the one win coming off of a last second buzzer-beater in OT against Iowa State). Mizzou has the best shot to improve their tournament seed if they can beat A&M in the quarterfinals. A third shot at Kansas is what everyone in Columbia is wishing for, but I’m not sure another 20-point loss to Kansas is what MU needs before the NCAA Tournament.
- Texas (9-7, 23-8) – If there is any sportswriter in the world that picked Texas to finish sixth in the Big 12 please come forward and let me bask in your wisdom. I think its safe to say UT is the surprise team of the season in this conference, even more so than Oklahoma. The Longhorns have one of the most talented teams in the nation and they will probably end up being a #7 seed in the NCAA tournament. No one in Austin is satisfied. However, if the Longhorns go on a run we could still have the Big 12 final that everyone expected, Kansas vs. Texas.
- Oklahoma State (9-7, 21-9) – If the Cowboys want to make some more noise on the national level now is the time to do it. James Anderson will keep you in just about every game, but the other players around him need to step it up. I think this team could be the surprise of the Big 12 Tournament this season, remember they beat Kansas State in Manhattan back in late January and the Wildcats would be their second round matchup if OSU gets past Oklahoma.
- Colorado (6-10, 15-15) – Find me one person in Boulder that isn’t happy with an eighth place finish in the Big 12 and I’ll be overly surprised. CU has finally gotten themselves out of the cellar, and this could be enough reason for Cory Higgins to skip the draft and make a run at the NCAA Tournament next season.
- Texas Tech (4-12, 16-14) – What started out as a promising year for the Red Raiders has ended quite terribly. Right now TTU is riding a seven-game losing streak and even if they were to beat Colorado in the first round of the conference tournament, it is highly unlikely they could beat KU to make some kind of improbable run.
- Oklahoma (4-12, 13-17) - OU fans would love to see an upset of their in-state rival in the first round game, but I also think many Sooners fans feel the same way about this season that the Coates family felt about Old Yeller. Sure, you’d love to see the season go on, but it might be time to put this team out of their misery and head to the offseason.
- Iowa State (4-12, 15-16) – I think ISU pulled off the biggest upset of the year in the last game of the regular season. The Cyclones are playing their best basketball at the right time, and Texas can’t take this first round game lightly or they could find themselves on a bus back to Austin as early as Wednesday night.
- Nebraska (2-14, 14-17) – The Cornhuskers and Mizzou will meet for the third time this season, and the good news for NU is that usually its hard to beat the same team three times in the same season. However, I don’t see the Huskers pulling off an upset of that caliber, and it looks like NU fans can finally focus on the women’s team, which is undefeated.
- Player of the Year- James Anderson (G), Oklahoma State
- Sixth Man of the Year: Marcus Denmon (G), Missouri
- Freshman of the Year: Xavier Henry (F), Kansas
- Defensive Player of the Year: Cole Aldrich (C), Kansas
- Coach of the Year- Scott Drew, Baylor
First Team All-Conference
- G Sherron Collins, Kansas
- G Jacob Pullen, Kansas State
- G James Anderson, Oklahoma State
- C Cole Aldrich, Kansas
- F Damion James, Texas
Big 12 Tournament*
* note: RTC will have a reporter on the ground all week at the Big 12 Tournament. Check in for daily live-blogs and nightly diaries from Kansas City.
- #8 Colorado over #9 Texas Tech. This is a rematch of last Saturday’s game for sole possession of eighth place in the conference. The Buffaloes came out on top in that matchup, and I expect the same in this game. As I said, Texas Tech is on a seven game losing streak and not playing very good defense lately. Look for Cory Higgins and Alec Burks to have big games.
- #5 Missouri over #12 Nebraska. In the two previous games between these teams Nebraska has been able to keep it close early, but then the Tigers pull away in the end and win it handily. This time I think Mizzou dominates NU from the get go. If there is one team you never want to play after they lose a game, it’s the Missouri Tigers.
- #6 Texas over #11 Iowa State. Iowa State is coming off its biggest win of the season, and they certainly have the talent to beat Texas who has underachieved this season to say the least. The game in Austin back in December was a good one (90-83) with UT coming out on top. The key player for the Cyclones is Scott Christopherson, if he can hit threes like he did against the Wildcats on Saturday its not improbable that the Cyclones win this one. However, I think the Longhorns are coming in with the goal to win this tournament, and they’ll do whatever it takes to win this game.
- #7 Oklahoma State over #10 Oklahoma. They split the season series, but OU’s win came in December when they were an entirely different team. Some people in Stillwater are still not convinced Oklahoma State is a lock for the tournament, and it certainly wouldn’t help their case if they lost to OU on Wednesday.
- #1 Kansas over #8 Colorado. Remember when CU took the Jayhawks to OT in Boulder? That was almost one of the biggest upsets in all of college basketball this season. The second meeting between these teams was not nearly as close, as KU won by 20 points.
- #4 Texas A&M over #5 Missouri. This could be the most evenly matched game of the whole tournament. In their first meeting it looked as if Mizzou had the game well in hand during the second half. Then the Tigers started missing every shot and TAMU went on a huge run to end the Tigers’ home winning streak. I think this game will be just as exciting, and have the same result.
- #3 Baylor over #6 Texas. The Bears dominated UT in Waco on Saturday, and the Longhorns looked totally lost all afternoon. Baylor has a great resume right now, but Scott Drew knows if they reach the final of this tournament they have a legitimate chance to steal a #2 seed in the NCAA tournament.
- #7 Oklahoma State over #2 Kansas State. If you’re a Kansas State fan, OSU is the one team you didn’t want to get the seven seed. James Anderson had a great game in Manhattan when the Cowboys downed the Wildcats. I think Kansas State is starting to wilt, and a team that was fighting for a #1 seed last week will now be a #3 seed in the NCAA tournament.
- #1 Kansas over #4 Texas A&M. The Jayhawks are just too good, and they basically have home court advantage for this whole tournament (the Big 12 Tournament is in Kansas City). The Aggies put up a fight in College Station, but it is incredibly tough to beat a Bill Self-coached team on a neutral court.
- #3 Baylor over #7 Oklahoma State. This would be a very exciting semifinal if the tournament played out how I predict (the chances of that are about as good as a solar eclipse occurring this weekend). Ekpe Udoh and Quincy Acy will be too much in the frontcourt in the Cowboys to handle, and the Bears will march on to the final for a rematch against KU.
- #1 Kansas over #3 Baylor. This is a much bigger game for Baylor than it is for Kansas, but good luck convincing any one of KU’s players that. The bottom line is that when Kansas shows up to play they are the best team in this conference, and trust me, winning the Big 12 Tournament matters a lot to this team.