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March Madness: Big 12 Tournament Preview and Pick

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time in 15 years, it looks like the Kansas Jayhawks won’t win at least a share of the Big 12 conference title. Kansas has dominated the Big 12 since the league’s inception nearly two decades ago, but a frustrating season will bring one of the nation’s most impressive streaks to an end barring a crazy Saturday. Currently, Kansas State and Texas Tech are one game ahead of Kansas in the conference standings, so for the Jayhawks to win a part of the Big 12 title, they must beat both Oklahoma and Baylor to close out their season while hoping the Wildcats lose at home to Oklahoma and the Red Raiders lose to Iowa State in Ames. That’s unlikely to happen, and that will put Kansas in a precarious spot entering the Big 12 Tournament.

Big 12 Tournament Odds

Big 12 Tournament Favorites

Kansas State – The Wildcats made it all the way to the Elite Eight last year, and now they are looking to win just their second conference championship in the last 40 years. It all starts with defense for Kansas State. They have the fourth-best defense in the country according to Ken Pomeroy,  and Kansas State has two proven crunch-time players in Dean Wade and Barry Brown Jr. There’s a good chance that Cartier Diarra returns in time for the conference tournament, and that would give the Wildcats a nice boost.

Texas Tech – If I can get the Red Raiders at +250 or more to win the Big 12 Conference Tournament, this will be my pick. The Red Raiders have been the most consistent team in the conference this season, and they have won eight in a row. Texas Tech thumped Kansas 91-62 in a statement game near the end of February, and they have the best defense in the nation according to Ken Pomeroy. The key for them is to get to 65 points, and they have yet to lose when reaching that number.

Kansas – The Jayhawks are trending in the wrong direction, but you can’t count a team with this much talent and experience out. They definitely have what it takes to knock off Kansas State or Texas Tech, but it will be difficult for them to string together three good games in a row. Kansas is perilously thin in the frontcourt after the season-ending injury to Udoka Azubuike, and the Jayhawks will need an incredible effort from Dedric Lawson to win it all.

Big 12 Tournament Contenders

Iowa State – If you’re a believer in Pomeroy’s ratings, you are probably dying at the chance to bet the Cyclones in the Big 12 Tournament. Iowa State will be either the No. 4 or the No. 5 seed, and that will give them a tough draw. However, Pomeroy’s numbers have the Cyclones rated as the 13th best team in the country and the second-best team in the Big 12. They have won in hostile environments before, taking down both Texas Tech and Kansas State on the road, so they have certainly proven they can get the job done.

Texas – How many times is this going to happen with Shaka Smart and the Longhorns? Once again, Texas has a middling record that shouldn’t give it consideration for the NCAA Tournament, but their advanced numbers are incredible and the computers love this team. Pomeroy has the Longhorns ranked just one spot behind Kansas State, and they are in the top 40 in both offense and defense. Texas will likely need a deep run to make it to the NCAA Tournament, so this team will have an extra chip on its shoulder.

Written by Jonathan Willis

Jonathan Willis has written on virtually every sport imaginable over the last decade. His specialties are college football, eSports, politics, the NFL and the NHL. He is always looking for soft markets to pounce on, and he will have you in the black by the end of the year.

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