Tag:Big 12 tournament
Posted on: March 12, 2011 11:32 pm
Edited on: March 12, 2011 11:55 pm

Welcome to the Dance, Kansas Jayhawks

What was supposed to be a marquee match-up between two of the top-10 teams in the country for the Big 12 title turned into a warning shot by Kansas to the rest of the country. The Jayhawks clearly cemented themselves as a Final Four favorite with an 85-73 victory over Texas. They jumped out to a 27-15 lead in the first half and cruised the rest of the way, with the margin ballooning to as much as 18 in the second half. Six Kansas players scored in double-figures, led by Tyshawn Taylor’s 20 points.

Kansas will enter the NCAA tournament as a No. 1 seed on an eight-game winning streak. The Jayhawks are playing some of the best basketball in the country, leading the nation in effective field-goal percentage and two-point shooting percentage. Can Kansas avoid being upset as No. 1 seed two years in a row, though? Last season, the Jayhawks were knocked out in the second round by Northern Iowa.

Player to know: Marcus Morris. The Jayhawks have a balanced group, with a plethora of options who can make plays offensively. Morris is the go-to-guy, though. He is a very difficult match-up for opponents due to his ability to face-up and his overall offensive skill set.  Morris has scored in double-figures in all but two games this season, also racking up eight double-doubles. He is hitting his stride down the stretch.

The Vitals:

  • Record: 32-2, 14-2 Big 12.
  • Team colors: Crimson and Blue.
  • We’re thinking: 1-seed.
  • KenPom ranking: 3
  • RPI: 1
  • Best win: Texas (27-7)
  • Worst loss: Kansas State (21-10)
  • Notable stat: The Jayhawks lead the nation in assists per game, with 18.0 per game.
  • Most recent tournament history: 2010. Entered the tournament as a No. 1 seed, and lost in the second round to Northern Iowa.

Posted by Jeff Borzello

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 12, 2011 1:10 am
Edited on: March 12, 2011 1:22 am

Big 12 championship game preview

With all the talk surrounding upsets and the bubble during championship week, marquee match-ups sometimes get swept under the rug. It will be tough to do that on Saturday, as the Big 12 championship game will feature a battle between two top-10 teams, Kansas and Texas.

Kansas (31-2, 14-2) is playing some of its best basketball of the season right now, having won seven straight since its 16-point loss at Kansas Sate on Valentine’s Day. The Jayhawks struggled against Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament, needing some poor decision-making and execution from the Cowboys down the stretch to advance. They bounced back against Colorado, hitting on all cylinders in eight-point win.

The Jayhawks are a lock for a No. 1 seed and one of the Final Four favorites. They lead the nation in effective field-goal percentage and two-point percentage, and are also one of the best defensive clubs around. Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris are the go-to players offensively, providing double-double potential on a nightly basis. Not too many teams can counter them down low. On the perimeter, Kansas uses a variety of options, with Tyrel Reed knocking down shots and Tyshawn Taylor, Brady Morningstar and co. creating opportunities with their playmaking abilities.

Texas (27-6, 13-3) struggled late in the year, losing three of four before defeating Baylor on the road in the season finale. The Longhorns have played well in the conference tournament, easily advancing past Oklahoma in the quarterfinals and then pulling away from Texas A&M down the stretch in the semifinals on Friday night. In the first meeting between the two teams, Texas went into Lawrence and came out with an 11-point victory.

The Longhorns are the best defensive team in the country, pacing the nation in defensive efficiency and effective field-goal percentage defense. Offensively, they can knock down perimeter shots, but make their living inside the arc. Jordan Hamilton has blossomed into one of the best offensive players in the country after going through bouts of selfishness during his freshman season. Freshmen Tristan Thompson and Cory Joseph have been very solid down the stretch, and Gary Johnson does the dirty work inside.

This is going to be a fantastic game, with intriguing match-ups all over the floor. Markieff Morris and Tristan Thompson will bang down low, but it will be interesting to see if Gary Johnson can defend Marcus Morris’ versatility. On the perimeter, who will defend Jordan Hamilton? He had 17 in the first match-up. Texas also has the defensive guards to disrupt Tyshawn Taylor and Josh Selby.  

Both teams have the personnel to make a run to the Final Four, but which will emerge as the Big 12 champion? Kansas has superior depth and numerous offensive options, while Texas’ defense can be impenetrable at times. If Kansas attacks the rim and gets Texas’ bigs in foul trouble, the Jayhawks should win. If they allow Texas to dictate their sets and settle for 3-pointers, the Longhorns will come out victorious.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

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Posted on: March 11, 2011 12:02 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 12:04 am

Big 12 without clear favorite heading into semis

While the final two games of the day weren’t very exciting, the Big 12 still had its moments on Thursday. It might have been overshadowed in the early afternoon by the Big East and Kemba Walker’s buzzer shot, but there was a near-upset and a bubble team punching its ticket. The remaining field seems wide open.

Oklahoma State looked to continue its run through the conference tournament against top-seeded Kansas, and nearly pulled it out. The Jayhawks needed a late run and a missed heave at the buzzer from J.P. Olukemi to escape. In the 4-5 game, Colorado received 52 points from Alec Burks and Cory Higgins to beat Kansas State for the third time and put itself in good position for an at-large bid.

Texas received a reprieve by getting Oklahoma in the quarterfinals after the Sooners upset Baylor, and the Longhorns took advantage. They led by as many as 25 in the first half and cruised the rest of the way. In the nightcap, Texas A&M got off to a great start against Missouri and shot nearly 58 percent from the field on the night. Missouri still struggles to win away from home.

Updated Big 12 Tournament Bracket

Kansas (1) vs. Colorado (5): Kansas looked less than impressive in its win over Oklahoma State on Thursday and will now face a Colorado team that is playing its best basketball at the right time. Alec Burks and Cory Higgins are capable of filling it up offensively, although Kansas has the wing defenders to create problems. Kansas State struggled to defend both. Offensively, the Buffaloes will have draw fouls and score around the rim. On the other side, Colorado struggles to defend the 3-point arc – Kansas can take advantage. Moreover, the Buffs have no one to defend Marcus Morris.

Texas (2) vs. Texas A&M (3): Neither team had much trouble dispatching of its quarterfinal opponent, but Friday’s battle should be a little tougher. Texas handled A&M both times the two teams played each other this season, winning the two games by a combined 41 points. If A&M is to avenge its earlier losses, it will need to get to the free-throw line and try to get the Longhorns’ bigs in foul trouble. Defensively, it has to keep Texas off the glass. If Texas controls the interior and stifles A&M’s offense, it could be another long night for the Aggies.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 10, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: March 10, 2011 5:44 pm

Colorado's win might punch ticket

Posted by Jeff Borzello

UAB couldn’t do it. Nebraska couldn’t do it. Baylor came nowhere close to doing it.

Championship week gives teams a chance to play themselves into the NCAA tournament with a run through the conference tournament – but it also can end a team’s at-large hopes.

The aforementioned three teams severely hurt their tourney chances with losses in their conference tournaments, but Colorado is a team that went the other way.

The Buffaloes came into the Big 12 tournament squarely on the bubble, but they might have punched their ticket to the Big Dance on Thursday with their third victory over Kansas State. Alec Burks and Cory Higgins led the way offensively, combining for 52 points. Andre Roberson had 11 points and 14 rebounds, and also had a timely block in the final minutes with the Buffs protecting a three-point lead. 

Colorado now has six top-50 wins, including five in the top-35. It has won five of its last six games, a stretch that also includes a win over Texas. The Buffaloes’ computer profile isn’t impressive, but the quarterfinal win over the Wildcats will improve it, as will a semifinal match-up against Kansas, whether they win or lose.

Sure, there are some bad losses on the resume, but Colorado’s list of good wins compares very favorably to nearly every team on the bubble. The Buffaloes are an impressive 6-6 against the top-50, which stacks up nicely against Boston College, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Saint Mary’s and the like.

While a win over Kansas on Friday would eliminate any and all concerns about Colorado’s NCAA tournament status, the Buffaloes should feel fairly comfortable after Thursday’s quarterfinal win.

It’s nice to see a bubble team finally play itself into the tournament with a marquee victory. Who else will join Colorado and Marquette in that exclusive club this year?

Photo: US Presswire

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Posted on: March 10, 2011 12:45 am

Big 12 quarterfinals feature juicy storylines

The Big 12 Conference tournament came into Wednesday with more storylines than any league besides the Big East. While a few questions were answered, plenty of interesting action remains.

Nebraska and Oklahoma State kicked things off with a back-and-forth battle that ended with the Cowboys on top, 53-52. Nebraska had the ball on the final possession, but Lance Jeter turned it over in the lane and the Cornhuskers didn’t get a shot off. In a must-win situation, Colorado overcame a late deficit by going on a 13-3 run to pull out a two-point victory. Alec Burks finished with 29 points, 15 rebounds and six assists.

Baylor, playing without a suspended Perry Jones, needed to make a run to the Big 12 title game in order to have a shot at an at-large bid. The Bears were blown out by Oklahoma, 84-67, and will be relegated to the NIT. In the nightcap, Missouri finally found a way to win away from home – but it wasn’t easy. Texas Tech went on a 10-2 run to cut the Tigers’ lead to two with fewer than two minutes left, but Missouri came up with a couple of clutch defensive plays to escape.

Updated Big 12 tournament bracket

Kansas (1) vs. Oklahoma State (9): When these two teams met in late February, Kansas manhandled the Cowboys, 92-65. Can Oklahoma State hold its own against a hot Kansas team?

Kansas State (4) vs. Colorado (5): A very interesting battle. Kansas State has won six in a row, while Colorado could lock up an NCAA tournament bid if it can pull out a win here. The Buffaloes won the first two meetings, by a combined 10 points. In fact, Colorado was the last team to beat the Wildcats, on Feb. 12.

Texas (2) vs. Oklahoma (10): Baylor’s size and length would have given Texas problems. Instead, the Longhorns get a Sooners team that lost eight in a row before winning their last two games.

Texas A&M (3) vs. Missouri (6): Quite the contrast of styles. Missouri likes to get out and run, while A&M would prefer a half-court setting. The two teams participated in a three-overtime classic back in January, with the Aggies pulling out a 91-89 victory. It will be fun to see which team can pick up some momentum heading into the Big Dance.

Photo: US Presswire

Posted by Jeff Borzello

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Category: NCAAB
Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:15 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:47 pm

Reports: Perry Jones suspended tonight

Posted by Jeff Borzello

Heading into a must-win Big 12 tournament game against Oklahoma on Wednesday, Baylor needed all available resources.

According to reports, though, the Bears will be without starting forward Perry Jones.

A source told Jason King of Yahoo! Sports that Jones was suspended by the NCAA for the rest of the season for allegedly accepting impermissible benefits. 

Baylor is reportedly looking at appealing the decision.

Adam Winkler of KEYE TV in Austin first tweeted that Jones was suspended for tonight’s game, while 610 Sports in Kansas City cited TV reports saying that Jones might be done at the school for accepting benefits.

Jones, a 6-foot-11 freshman, is averaging 13.9 points and 7.2 rebounds per game this season. He is projected as a top-five draft pick by some mock drafts.

Baylor, which is on the wrong side of the bubble right now, likely has to make a run to the conference title game in order to get an at-large bid. In Jones’ absence, Fred Ellis and J’mison Morgan will get more minutes in the frontcourt. 

The school has yet to release a statement regarding Jones' status.

Photo: AP

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Posted on: March 8, 2011 4:56 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 8:57 pm

Big 12 Conference tournament preview

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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Category: NCAAB
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