Big 12 Tournament Preview

Posted by Brian Goodman on March 7th, 2018

After an intense two months of regular season play, postseason action will finally open tonight when the Big 12 Tournament tips off from Kansas City. The league is currently ripe for seven NCAA Tournament teams, with an eighth in sight and perhaps even a ninth if things really get wild. No matter how the at-large picture pans out, nearly every team in the league has something to play for, which means that there will be no shortage of storylines to monitor this week. Let’s break down this week’s event.

West Virginia seniors Jevon Carter and Daxter Miles begin their encore this week in Kansas City. (Nick Golden/The Daily Athenaeum)

  • The Favorite: After extending its regular season conference title streak to an unprecedented 14 seasons in a row, Kansas is once again the favorite to win this weekend’s Big 12 Tournament, alhough not overwhelmingly. It’s easy to see why most projections are looking Kansas’ way. The Jayhawks have the league’s best player/coach duo in Devonte’ Graham and Bill Self and are clicking offensively (last Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State notwithstanding). Additionally, the Jayhawks will be playing right in their own backyard, motivated by the potential of capturing a #1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive season.
  • Contenders: There are some valid reasons to fade Kansas, too. Counting on a thin team to win three games in as many days is challenging enough without accounting for the stiff competition it figures to face, and Texas Tech and West Virginia would love nothing more than to improve their NCAA seeding by beating the regular season champ. Stud Red Raiders guard Keenan Evans showed no ill effects over the weekend from a toe injury that hampered him in late February, and the Mountaineers’ deep rotation could go a long way toward countering the downsides of the game-per-day environment should West Virginia advance to Friday’s semifinals.

  • Wildcards: Kansas State and Baylor. The Wildcats went 0-6 against the the Kansas/Texas Tech/West Virginia trio during the regular season, but 8-4 against everyone else, so viewers would be advised to keep an eye on Bruce Weber‘s team if it beats TCU in Thursday’s opener and a top-three seed gets upset. Meanwhile, the Bears are one of the most experienced teams in the Big 12 and have hit their stride offensively over the last month.
  • Also Of Interest: Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. While the spotlight will be on the league’s top three teams, these teams are the ones that will determine whether the Big 12 sends a ho-hum seven teams to the Dance or if it can set a new high-water mark of eight or even nine bids this season. The Longhorns need to beat Iowa State tonight to keep their at-large hopes alive, but a win over the Cyclones may not necessarily lock it up. Meanwhile, the Sooners look to hit the reset button after a nightmarish back half of conference play, while their first-round opponent will need at least two wins this week to make things interesting come Selection Sunday.
Brian Goodman (987 Posts)

Brian Goodman a Big 12 microsite writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BSGoodman.

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