Setting up the Big 12 Tournament

It’s March. It’s time to start looking at how the Big 12 Tournament will shape up, and what implications those games will have on the NCAA Tournament.

Kansas is left with a difficult home game tonight at Texas A&M. With KU’s long basketball tradition coupled with the emotion of Senior Night and the usual success at Allen Fieldhouse, we expect a Jayhawk victory, but A&M is a solid team. Missouri is looking less solid week by week, and while the Tigers are a trendy upset pick Saturday in Columbia, they might not be a good one. With two wins, KANSAS will be the league’s No. 1 seed.

The No. 2 seed likely goes to TEXAS. Some folks are whispering about another “collapse” and pointing at Rick Barnes. The Horns certainly aren’t playing like an elite team, but the honest truth is Colorado is good enough to beat them at home. That was not a fluke. The Horns clinch this spot by beating reeling Baylor at home Saturday.

The Texas A&M Aggies had their 5-game win streak snapped by Baylor, and will obviously need to score more than 51 points to expect a win from here on out. Still, they have been far more consistent than Kansas State, Missouri, Colorado or Baylor this year. TEXAS A&M will be rewarded with the league’s No. 3 seed if they beat either Kansas OR Texas Tech, based on the head-to-head win over K-State on Jan. 22.

That would point to KANSAS STATE as team No. 4. This is the least exciting bye, because assuming no upset, it leads to a 4-5 matchup anyway. Had the Big 12 been as deep at the top as we expected, this ascent wouldn’t have been as manageable. Still, credit is due to Frank Martin and the Wildcats for putting themselves in this position when it looked very unrealistic. Seems Jacob Pullen won’t have to worry about the NIT after all.

That was easy, right? Well, even with just four days left in the regular season, the rest of the field is hard to predict.

Now, for some speculation.

Missouri is 8-7, courtesy of its abysmal road record. Colorado is 7-7 with a winnable game against I-State tonight. Both Baylor and Nebraska are 7-8.

Despite the game being played in Columbia, we’ll assume a Mizzou loss to Kansas. The Tigers would finish 8-8. Colorado plays Nebraska on Saturday. In Boulder, I like Colorado. We’ll also predict a Baylor loss to Texas. Oklahoma State hasn’t won a league road game this year, so we’ll say they get beat by OU in Norman.

^^^ (This is all speculation) ^^^

That would mean:

 – COLORADO gets the No. 5 seed. Props to coach Tad Boyle, as the Buffaloes have had almost no impact on the Big 12 standings for the last few years. They are closing their Big 12 participation with a great year, and might be the No. 3 team in the Pac-10 at this point. Amazing, and good for them.

 – MISSOURI gets the No. 6 seed. Makes sense really. Turns out when you always win at home, you never win on the road … You end up in the middle.

 – BAYLOR gets the No. 7 seed, because of a close home win over Nebraska on Feb. 9. A similar team made a run to the league finals two years ago. The Bears probably need to win out in KC to make the NCAA Tournament.

 – NEBRASKA gets the No. 8 seed. However, if the Huskers beat Colorado on Saturday, they’ll jump Baylor. They would NOT jump Mizzou, because a win over Colorado would make the Huskers 4-6 against the North. Mizzou would be 5-5 with a loss to KU, and would therefore claim the tiebreaker.

Moving on …

OKLAHOMA STATE could get the No. 9. Even if the ‘Pokes lose at OU, the Sooners have to play at Texas Tech. That’s a straight toss up in my opinion, so to make this easier to understand, I’ll just say they lose on the road. That’s 10 losses for OSU, 11 for OU.

TEXAS TECH is a candidate for No. 10. The Red Raiders had a horrible season already before the Big 12 started, but they’ve acquired four wins in league play. We’ll say a win over Oklahoma pushes them past the Sooners.

 – OKLAHOMA would then be the No. 11. Even if the Sooners lose out and Iowa State improbably wins out, they would be tied. And OU beat Iowa State earlier this year.

 – IOWA STATE is guaranteed to be No. 12. They would lose tiebreakers to both Oklahoma and Texas Tech.

So, what do you think of where your team might go, and whom they might play?

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