In case you were trapped somewhere under a rock yesterday evening when the brackets were announced, the Big XII received 6 bids to the tournament, highlighted by conference tournament champion Missouri receiving a #2 bid in the West Region and Kansas receiving the #2 seed in the Midwest Region. Our own Baylor Bears earned their highest seed ever as a #3 in the South Region.
Kansas State, Iowa State, and Texas are the other three Big XII schools in this year's tournament as the #8 in the West, the #8 in the South, and the #11 in the East, respectively. For a printable bracket showing all of this year's tournament teams as well as their associated SBNation blogs, if one exists, click here. Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas State all play Thursday, with Baylor having the latest game of the three at 6:27 PM CST, while Kansas, Missouri, and Texas play their first games Friday.
There are several interesting matchups in the Big XII's opening slate of games including Texas's 11-6 matchup against Cincinnati that I think the Longhorns can win. I know they're relatively banged up and will have to play without Wangmene for the Tournament, but if J'Covan Brown gets going they could be difficult to stop even for a higher seed. In the bracket I filled out for the Yahoo! Tourney Pick'em that SBNation is doing (and you can do, too!), I picked Texas to win that game. Texas +2 as a spread is a pretty clear indication that the books think Texas could win, too.
As for the other Big XII teams, Kansas and Missouri will likely win their games going away, though you never can trust Kansas in the opening round against teams that shoot the ball well and play disciplined defense. Kansas faces Detroit in the first round on Friday while Missouri drew Norfolk State. I'm sure both will take care of their business and advance to face the winners of St. Mary's/Purdue and Florida/Virginia, respectively. A Florida-Missouri matchup in the second round would be extremely interesting to me.
Iowa State and Kansas State's games are a little harder to call because they're both 8/9 matchups. Typically those kind of games are relatively evenly-matched considering how close the seeds are and could go either way. ISU is a 2 point favorite over defending champion Connecticut, whose coach Jim Calhoun recently missed time with back surgery but has returned to find a team playing pretty well as of this moment, in what could be a tough game. I picked Connecticut to win here with apologies to our Cyclone brethren. I think Kansas State, on the other hand, will win their game against Southern Mississippi. Frank Martin, for all of his comedic value, is a good coach and will have his team prepared for a Southern Miss team that might have been overseeded as a #9. The spread on that game is Kansas State -6.5, the highest of the three games for the lower-seeded Big XII teams.
Our beloved Baylor Bears drew South Dakota State in a 3/14 game that will take place Thursday evening. South Dakota State went 27-7 this season and finished second in the Summit League to Oral Roberts. Seth Davis famously predicted yesterday that Baylor will actually lose this game, though 6 of the 7 "experts" on CBSSports.com disagree with him and have Baylor making a run to the Elite Eight before losing to eventual champion Kentucky. That's the big drawback of having the #1 overall seed in your region, I guess. To absolutely no one's surprise, I picked Baylor to win on Thursday night and set up a matchup against the winner of UNLV/Colorado, which will probably be UNLV. Baylor is a 7.5 point favorite over SDSU.
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