There will a ton at stake in Kansas City, starting on Wednesday. The favorites, contenders and sleepers might be separated in the standings, but there is more than enough on the line in the Big 12 tournament to make it interesting.
Kansas has likely locked up a No. 1 seed, but that is the only thing set in stone out of this conference for Selection Sunday. Texas has struggled lately, but the Longhorns can play themselves into a two seed, while Texas A&M and Kansas State are trying to improve their seeds as well. Missouri is safely in the field, but the Tigers need to develop some sort of confidence away from home.
That doesn’t even begin to discuss the bubble. Colorado is likely in the field right now, but it needs to beat Iowa State in the first round and then possibly defeat Kansas State as well. Nebraska needs a run to the title game, which would include a win over Kansas, while Baylor might need the same.
While the opening-round games in some of the other major conferences lack excitement, the Big 12 is different. Bubble teams face must-wins, tournament locks look to get back on the right track – it’s all previewed below. As the tournament progresses, we will have plenty more on Kansas, Texas and the other contenders.
Nebraska (8) vs. Oklahoma State (9): Both of these teams had their chances on the bubble this season, but neither is in particularly good shape heading into the final week. Nebraska lost three of its final four to end the season, while Oklahoma State went 6-10 in the Big 12. It will be interesting to see how the two teams match-up, though. Nebraska plays at one of the slowest tempos in the country, and the Cowboys would prefer to speed it up. The battle down low between Marshall Moses and Brian Jorge Diaz will be solid, as will Oklahoma State’s aggressive two-point offense against Nebraska’s stingy defense.
Colorado (5) vs. Iowa State (12): This is an absolute must-win for Colorado, which sits squarely on the bubble. The Buffaloes have a host of impressive wins on their resume, but they have mediocre computer numbers and some bad losses. Iowa State has played spoiler late in the season, beating Nebraska and this same Colorado team in back-to-back games. Both teams like to play up-tempo basketball, as evidenced by the 95-90 final in their meeting last week. Alec Burks and Cory Higgins can score for Colorado; Iowa State needs to be disciplined defensively.
Baylor (7) vs. Oklahoma (10): With a potential at-large bid on the line, Baylor struck out over the weekend, losing to Texas at home. Now, the Bears will be in desperation mode in Kansas City. Interestingly, the loss that might have done them in back in early February was to Oklahoma, a seven-point road defeat that dropped them to 14-7. The key in this one will be the Sooners’ ability to rebound on the defensive end, keeping Baylor’s stable of long and athletic forwards off the offensive glass.
Missouri (6) vs. Texas Tech (11): Although Missouri is headed to the NCAA tournament, the Tigers would be smart not to lose this one. If the game was in Columbia, Missouri would probably win by 20 points. Away from home, though, Missouri is simply not the same team. The Tigers went 1-7 on the road in Big 12 play, with the lone win coming against Iowa State. In the only meeting between these two teams, Missouri survived, 92-84. If Texas Tech is to pull the upset, it needs to care of the ball and get back in transition.
Posted by Jeff Borzello
Photo: US Presswire
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