Here is the updated Big 12 tournament bracket after the first day of action:
#4 Baylor vs. #5 Iowa State
Thursday, March 14th 11:30 PM CT, ESPN2
4 seed Baylor (19-12, 10-8) faces off once again with 5 seed Iowa State (20-11, 9-9). The Bears got a regular season sweep of the Cyclones, winning by 3 at home and 4 on the road. Obviously, these have been close games. Don’t think the Bears are guaranteed to win this game because of how the regular season went. That being said, Baylor matches up very well against Iowa State. Iowa State is a really terrible rebounding team while Baylor is an exceptionally strong rebounding team. Iowa State has also been particularly bad at defending the 3 point line, an area Baylor has excelled at in conference play. On top of all of that, Iowa State has been in a horrendous funk over the past 3 weeks. The advantage Iowa State will have is that their fans tend to travel very well to the Big 12 tournament. Nevertheless, I think Baylor picks up the win, especially since it sounds like Makai Mason will play.
#1 Kansas State vs. #8 TCU
Thursday, March 14th 1:30 PM CT, ESPN2
8 seed TCU (20-12, 7-11) really tried their hardest not to be playing in this game. They let Oklahoma State come back from 20 down and went over 6 minutes without a bucket down the final stretch. Still, the Horned Frogs got a huge 3 with 16 seconds to break the scoring drought and beat Oklahoma State by 3 points, saving their Big 12 tournament and NCAA tournament hopes. They now face 1 seed Kansas State (24-7, 14-4). It’s heavily rumored that Dean Wade won’t play in this game. If true, that’s a huge blow. Kansas State is not nearly as good of a team without him. With Wade on the bench, the Wildcats lost games to the likes of Tulsa and a really bad Texas A&M team. So this call relies heavily on if he plays or not. But assuming the rumblings are true and Wade is a no go, I like TCU to win the battle of purples.
#2 Texas Tech vs. #10 West Virginia
Thursday, March 14th 6:00 PM CT, ESPN2
2 seed Texas Tech (26-5, 14-4) plays 10 seed West Virginia (13-19, 4-14), who is fresh off a big upset win over Oklahoma. The Mountaineers led most of their game against Oklahoma, before the Sooners hit what appeared to be a game tying 3 as time expired. However, on review, the shooter’s foot was on the line and West Virginia escaped with a 1 point victory. The Mountaineers are in do-or-die mode. That’s a dangerous type of team to play against, especially since everyone not wearing a Texas Tech shirt will likely rally behind them in Kansas City. Still, Tech is really good and I can’t see them dropping this one to West Virginia.
74-68 Texas Tech
#3 Kansas vs. #6 Texas
Thursday, March 14th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN2
3 seed Kansas (23-8, 12-6) takes on 6 seed Texas (16-15, 8-10) in a game that Texas really needs to win. Kansas is a lock for the NCAA tournament, simply playing for seeding and esteem. Texas, on the other hand, is one of Joe Lunardi’s last four in at the writing of this article. A win here should secure them an NCAA tournament berth. A loss leaves Texas with a 16-16 record and sweating it out come selection Sunday. Kansas split the regular season with Texas. This year, the Jayhawks have played far better at home than on the road. It’s unclear if Kansas City will act like a home game for them, or if they are simply uncomfortable playing outside of Phog Allen. Still, I think Kansas gets the win.