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Big 12 MBB Tournament Preview: First Round and Quarterfinals

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IT’S BIG 12 TOURNAMENT TIME!

NCAA Basketball: Big 12 Championship-Iowa State vs West Virginia Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

First Round

#8 TCU vs. #9 Kansas State

Wednesday, March 10th 5:30 PM CT, ESPN

A battle of purples tips off the Big 12 Conference Tournament as 8 seed TCU (12-13, 5-11) takes on 9 seed Kansas State (8-19, 4-14). Overall, TCU has had a marginally better season than the Wildcats and so I would typically pick them as the winner here. However, Kansas State has looked much improved down the late-season stretch and has been more impressive than the Horned Frogs as of late. TCU has lost 6 of its last 7 games, including a 62-54 loss to Kansas State. The Horned Frogs won the game between these two teams prior to that one, 67-60. I’ll take the Wildcats to advance here and play Baylor.

74-68 Kansas State

#7 Oklahoma vs. #10 Iowa State

Wednesday, March 10th 8:30 PM CT, ESPN

7 seed Oklahoma (14-9, 9-8) has to be one of the most daunting 7 seeds in the country right now, as they are #25 in the most recent AP poll. That tells you just how absurdly deep the Big 12 Tournament is. They take on 10 seed Iowa State (2-21, 0-18). The Cyclones put together a historically terrible regular season and there isn’t anything I have seen from their winless conference run that makes me think they’ll suddenly win this game. Oklahoma beat the Cyclones by 7 and 10 in their previous meetings.

78-70 Oklahoma

Quarterfinals

#4 West Virginia vs. #5 Oklahoma State

Thursday, March 11th 10:30 AM CT

The second day of the Big 12 Conference Tournament is filled with high-powered showdowns, and immediately starts with a bang between 4 seed West Virginia (18-8, 11-6) and 5 seed Oklahoma State (18-7, 11-7). The Mountaineers put together an impressive conference performance that faltered slightly down the stretch, as they lost two of their last three games. Their final conference game was, in fact, a 5 point loss to Oklahoma State. So these teams have some recency in terms of game planning for this meeting. However, the Cowboys were without Cade Cunningham and Isaac Likekele in that win over West Virginia. With both Cunningham and Likekele set to return for this game, I really like the Cowboys here (however, West Virginia did beat the Cowboys by 3 points in their much earlier regular season meeting).

89-84 Oklahoma State

#1 Baylor vs. #8 TCU/#9 Kansas State

Thursday, March 11th 1:30 PM CT

1 seed Baylor (21-1, 13-1) opens up their Big 12 Tournament Championship bid by playing the winner of the 8/9 game between TCU and Kansas State. As I predicted above, I expect Kansas State to be the team Baylor will face. If that is the case, Baylor should be just fine as they absolutely annihilated Kansas State in their previous two meetings, scoring at least 100 in both and winning by an average of 39.5 points. If TCU is the team that makes it through, Baylor should be alright there too. They beat TCU in the one game the two teams played by 18 points. Baylor matches up better against Kansas State but neither team should be terribly worrisome.

95-63 Baylor vs. Kansas State

88-65 Baylor vs. TCU

#2 Kansas vs. #7 Oklahoma/#10 Iowa State

Thursday, March 11th 5:30 PM CT

2 seed Kansas (19-8, 12-6) is set to play the winner of the 7/10 first round game. If Iowa State by some miracle wins that first game, they likely won’t make it past Kansas who beat the Cyclones pretty handily in their previous games. So let’s turn our attention to Kansas vs. Oklahoma. The biggest concern for Kansas is that David McCormack (and Tristan Enaruna) have been ruled out of the tournament because of COVID protocol. That is a massive loss, as Kansas was really getting great play out of McCormack as of late. Without McCormack, Baylor would likely still be undefeated even with COVID rust. Kansas and Oklahoma split in the regular season, with Kansas winning the most recent meeting. However, without McCormack, Kansas will have to rely on Mitch Lightfoot way too much for comfort. Oklahoma probably wins this one unless they’re overly fatigued from the game the day prior.

77-74 Oklahoma vs. Kansas

83-70 Kansas vs. Iowa State

#3 Texas vs. #6 Texas Tech

Thursday, March 11th 8:30 PM CT

The Big 12 Quarterfinals wrap up with an instate rivalry between 3 seed Texas (17-7, 11-6) and 6 seed Texas Tech (17-9, 9-8). Texas has been on a bit of a late season tear, winning four of their last five games. Their lone loss in that stretch came on the road to Texas Tech. The Red Raiders were slightly less consistent, winning three of their last five games. However, they were on a three game winning streak before suffering defeat to Baylor in a game that almost any team would lose thanks to the Bears’ three point shooting. Both of these teams have a lot of potential in this tournament and the NCAA Tournament. The Red Raiders actually swept Texas in the regular season, but these teams are close enough in talent that I just can’t see Texas Tech completing a three game sweep.

78-76 Texas