(Really quick before we get going here: If you’re a leisure college basketball fan and want to check out how your team or conference looks right now, go find it on the home page of the site. We’ve got the whole team churning out conference tournament previews right now, and region previews will be coming next week once we get a bracket. It’s March my friends, the most wonderful time of the year)
Let’s get everybody on the same page really fast. Here’s what happened during the regular season in the Big 12:
- The Kansas Jayhawks did what the Kansas Jayhawks do. In arguably the most impressive run in college basketball history, Bill Self and the Jayhawks notched their 13th straight Big 12 regular season title. They’ll be going for their 9th conference tournament win during this insane run in Kansas City this week. They’re one of the best offensive teams in the country led by arguably the best player in the country, and a conference tournament win probably solidifies them the number 1 over overall seed in the tournament. Again, the Jayhawks did what the Jayhawks do again in 2017.
- This is a very top heavy conference. If Selection Sunday was tomorrow, the Big 12 gets five teams in the field. If Kansas State wants to get in, they probably have to upset the Baylor Bears this Thursday. Only four teams have 10+ wins in conference play, and only five teams went .500 or above in the conference. At the top this country has arguably 3 National Championship contenders, but it drops off big time towards the bottom.
- The Big 12 could have the best guard play out of any conference in the country. Make no mistake about it, this is a point guard driven league. You all know the name Frank Mason, but if you don’t know the names Jevon Carter, Jawun Evans, or Monte Morris, stay tuned. If you like point guards, the Big 12 has beenthe league for you.
Now on to the tournament. Here’s a look at the bracket:
I like TCU and Texas Tech here. The bring Jamie Dixon home experiment appears to be going extremely well. This TCU team competed all year long and Dixon is doing a great job with this young core. On the other side, it’s been a tough year for Lon Kruger’s bunch. After a Final Four appearance a year ago, this team struggled all year long. They caught the injury bug, losing their best returning starter in PG Jordan Woodard, and it’s been a season to forget in Norman. I like the Horned Frogs in this one.
The Texas Longhorns stink. They just flat out stink. Shaka Smart’s bunch did not win a single road game or neutral site game all season long. All 10 wins were in Austin for the Horns. Texas Tech beat Baylor, they lost to Kansas by 1, and Iowa State by 2 in Ames. Give me the Red Raiders by double digits here.
The best game to watch here is going to be Oklahoma State vs Iowa State. This will be as good as 11:30 AM EST basketball gets, people. Both these teams can flat out score, and they had some fantastic match ups during the regular season. I like the Cyclones in this one just because I love this senior trio. Monte Morris is a flat out stud and I think that shows in a big way on Thursday. Also, the last time the Cyclones were a four seed was 2014, the year they won this tournament, something to keep in mind.
The most important game of this round is by far the Kansas State vs Baylor game. Bruce Weber’s bunch absolutely has to have this one if they want to make the tournament. There’s a shot they sneak in with a loss because of the overall weakness of the bubble this year, but I really think this is a must win for them. I’m all in on the Wildcats to pull the upset here. They split the regular season series, both winning on the other team’s home floor, and I’m taking the Wildcats in the rubber match. I think they come out with their hair on fire, and you can never trust Baylor come March. I’ve got both West Virginia and KU cruising by double digits on Thursday as well.
On February 4th, it had been exactly 1,126 days since Kansas lost a game at Phog Allen Fieldhouse. On February 5th, that number was 0. Iowa State went in to Lawrence and stunned the Jayhawks in one of the best regular season games of the year. I think this game is an absolute war, as it usually is between these two, but I’ve got the Jayhawks here. I think the trio of Frank Mason III, Devonte Graham, and Josh Jackson is just too much. You’re crazy if you don’t think Kansas wants blood from what happened in early February, and I think they advance to the Championship game with a W here.
The Press Virginia Mountaineers. I haven’t talked about them at all so far because they deserve the nice little ode I’m about to give them. I could not love West Virginia basketball more. If the Mountaineers are on TV that night and I’ve got a test the next day, I’m watching Bob Huggins’s bunch every day of the week. They have caused 657 turnovers this season, that’s over 100 more than anyone else in the country. You want to score on these guys, you’ve got to go 94 feet through a full court press first. In the past, West Va has had to rely on the havoc they cause on he defensive end because they’ve never been great scoring teams. This team, not so much. Not only do they defend you, but Jevon Carter and company will score on you too, averaging over 80 a game. This is a legitimate Final 4 contender, and depending on how the bracket plays out they could easily get there. I love me some Huggy Bear jumpsuits, and I love me some full court press.
So yes, I’ve got the press over Kansas State.
We get a rematch of the best game of the college basketball regular season this year. The best game, without a doubt. West Virginia went in to Lawrence and led 64-50 with 2:58 left, and Kansas pulled off one of the most improbable comebacks of the year. This game has all the makings to be one of the best games out of any conference tournament. I’ve gone back and forth with this game, because I think it’s a total toss up. However, I’m going with the Jayhawks for one reason and one reason only. This game is being played 45 minutes from campus in Kansas City. The Sprint Center is basically going to be Allen Fieldhouse 2.0, and that’s a hard atmosphere to pick against Kansas in. I think West Virginia is undoubtedly a Final Four contender, but I think Kansas gets it done late. The Jayhawks get their 9th conference tournament championship during this run on Saturday night in front of their home crowd.
Final Score: Kansas 78 West Virginia 71