After a Wild Opening Night, the Meat of the Big 12 Tournament Set to BeginPosted by dnspewak on March 14th, 2013
Bob Huggins’ teams have always blocked out. Except for when there’s a game-winning shot attempt in the air, apparently. In a sequence that epitomized West Virginia’s season so much it seemed as though it had to have been some sort of sick joke, Texas Tech ended the Mountaineers’ brutal campaign with a tip-in by Dejan Kravic in the final milliseconds of regulation to win, 71-69. He was standing untouched in the paint after Josh Gray’s three-point attempt rimmed out. No body on him. No effort by the Mountaineers to hit the boards, as they were simply standing around as though time would expire before any potential rebound attempt. They guessed wrong, and the Red Raiders now advance to play top-seeded Kansas. There wasn’t as much drama in the nightcap, as Texas dispatched of TCU in an ugly 70-57 win. They’ll now play Kansas State this evening.
That’s where we stand after two play-in games in the Big 12 Tournament. No disrespect to the victors on Wednesday night, but now the real games begin. Remember to stay with the Big 12 microsite all weekend long, as microsite writer Danny Spewak (@dspewak) will arrive in Kansas City this morning to cover the tournament through the championship game on Saturday. But today, there’s two games you really need to keep an eye on: Oklahoma vs. Iowa State early and Baylor vs. Oklahoma State this evening. There will be drama in this tournament across the board, especially if Kansas and Kansas State play each other in a conference tournament final, but these are by far the two most important games of the Big 12 Tournament. The top three teams in the league are playing for seeding. Oklahoma, Iowa State and Baylor are playing for their lives. Let’s take a look at the resumes for each three bubble teams and explain what they’ll need to do in this tournament to feel OK on Selection Sunday:
- Projected seed (ESPN.com): #10
- Resume builders: Wins over Oklahoma State, Kansas and Iowa State. Strong computer numbers and strength of schedule.
- Head-scratchers: Losses at Texas and at TCU in recent weeks are not helping.
- What they need to do: Beat Iowa State and the Sooners are probably fine. Make the finals and they’re a lock. Lose in the quarters and they’re still in decent shape, but probably sliding toward the ever-intimidating “First Four In” status.
- Projected seed (ESPN.com): #12
- Resume builders: Wins over Kansas State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
- Head-scratchers: Hasn’t played well on the road. Lost at Texas and Texas Tech. Should have probably beaten Kansas twice and failed in both opportunities.
- What they need to do: The Cyclones have a little less breathing room than Oklahoma. They’ll be a little more desperate in the early match-up, and a loss could cripple their hopes for an at-large. There’s just not enough here for ISU to feel comfortable. If Fred Hoiberg’s team finds a way to string together a couple of victories here, though, and perhaps knocks off Kansas in Round Three in the semifinals, Selection Sunday won’t be so worrisome.
- Projected seed (ESPN.com): Not in the field.
- Resume builders: Wins over Kansas and Oklahoma State, and at Kentucky, too (it counts for something, we suppose).
- Head-scratchers: Um, lots of losses. Finished .500 in conference, lost at Texas and lost to Northwestern and College of Charleston in non-conference play.
- What they need to do: Knocking off Oklahoma State will help, but it might not do the trick. Make the finals and we’ve got something here, but even then it might not be a total lock.