I feel like it’s been mentioned ad nauseam if you’ve watched these games, but the Big 12 doesn’t have a single school outside the NET’s top 65 and KenPom’s Top 55. This conference is well balanced with legit talent, with 7/10 teams in KenPom’s Top 25, 6/10 in the NET Top 25 and five schools in both the AP and HCH Top 25.
So, the teams in this league are excellent, which should make for an awesome conference tournament! Here are the odds, and some projections of how this tournament will pan out.
Kansas is the favorite in the projections and by the odds. It makes sense, Kansas has the most Q1 wins in the country with 15, with the next closest team, Baylor, having 11. Kansas has been dominant, they’ve been a staple of the Top-5 all year. Star forward Jalen Wilson won Big 12 Player of the Year, capping off his excellent season.
The rest of the Jayhawks' starting lineup is impressive too, as they have one of the best starting lineups in the country. Starting off with their floor general, DaJaun Harris, who ranks inside the Top 10 in the country in assists. He joins four wings including the aforementioned Jalen Wilson, sharpshooting freshman Gradey Dick, and versatile pieces Kevin McCullar and KJ Adams. Kansas uses this lineup a ton, as they rank third-to-last nationally in bench minutes.
Texas is next, and despite the whole Chris Beard fiasco, Interim Head Coach Rodney Terry has done an excellent job of keeping this team inside the Top 10. This team is led by their star, Marcus Carr, who leads the Longhorns in scoring, assists and steals. Carr has been absolutely excellent this season and headlines a group that has four guys in double figures.
Sir’Jabari Rice is next, and the main thing to point out is that he has the best pump fake in college basketball. Guys bite on this fake every single time and he’s so creative with what he does once he gets guys in the air. Timmy Allen and Tyrese Hunter round out the Longhorns averaging double figures, with both averaging exactly 10.5PPG.
Those are the two favorites in this tournament, but my dark horse is the TCU Horned Frogs. TCU is a much different team when Mike Miles is playing. Miles might just be the best point guard in the country and has made clutch play after clutch play for his team this season. The Horned Frogs are 17-5 in games Miles plays in (I didn’t count the Mississippi State game where he was injured four minutes in), and 3-6 in games he misses. This is a completely different team without Miles, and he’s back for the Big 12 Tournament.
There’s my bracket laid out, with Kansas as the Big 12 Tournament Champions.
West Virginia vs Texas Tech:
I’m more confident in my West Virginia pick with the new Mark Adams controversy, though Texas Tech has been much better with a fully healthy Fardaws Aimaq. West Virginia has a very potent offense, which actually ranks as the second-best offense in the conference, led by sharpshooting guard Erik Stevenson. This team has the talent to make a run, and I think they take down the Red Raiders.
Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State:
Oklahoma State has been much worse without Avery Anderson and his loss has been felt to end the season with the Cowboys losing five of their last six. Still, I think they can find a way to beat their in-state rivals Oklahoma, who have not been great away from home this season. I think this game goes down to the wire and could go either way, with Oklahoma State just pulling it out in the end, to keep their tournament hopes alive.
Kansas vs West Virginia:
Kansas is a Top Five team in the country. However, West Virginia actually played them very close in Allen Fieldhouse on February 25, losing by just two points. Still, I think the talent of these Jayhawks pull through against this Mountaineer team, though it could be very competitive.
Baylor vs Iowa State:
This is a matchup of the best offense vs the best defense in this conference. Baylor’s offense is the best unit in this conference, ranking second overall in KenPom, while Iowa State’s defense ranks sixth in the country. However, Iowa State is a completely different team without Caleb Grill. They’ve lost six of their last eight, while Baylor has won six of their last nine games. Despite Iowa State absolutely blowing Baylor out to end the regular season, I think Baylor wins this game and takes their revenge.
Kansas State vs TCU:
I mentioned TCU as a legit sleeper for a reason. I really like this team. Kansas State is an excellent team, and I think this is the best game of the first round. There really isn’t much reasoning behind it more than that, I think this is a 50/50 game, and I like TCU. Should be an awesome game.
Texas vs Oklahoma State:
This has blowout potential. Texas has been dominant and Oklahoma State has stumbled into the conference tournament. This team is legit and has multiple different ways to beat you. If Avery Anderson doesn’t play, this could get ugly.
Kansas vs Baylor:
This game should be absolutely electric, if we get it. Both teams seem to be hitting their strides as the season ends. These are two potentially Top Ten teams matching up, and I think Kansas’s length messes with the Baylor guards. Should be an incredibly fun one, but I like Kansas here.
Texas vs TCU:
This is definitely my craziest pick of this tournament, but I just think TCU has Texas’s number. TCU went up double digits in both matchups against Texas, and I think they have the tools to present the Longhorns with problems. On short notice, you stick to that gameplan with your advantageous matchups and I think they pull the upset off.
Kansas vs TCU:
These teams split the season series, with TCU absolutely blowing Kansas out in Allen Fieldhouse, and Kansas getting their revenge in Fort Worth. I think Kansas is the better team here and has the pieces to get TCU’s bigs in space and make TCU uncomfortable defensively. I like Kansas here in a very competitive game to cut down the nets.
There we have it, those are all my takes on this tournament. We will be seeing most of these teams in the NCAA Tournament, so I can’t wait to talk more about them then, going up against some unfamiliar opponents.