#4 Baylor vs. #5 Iowa State
Thursday, March 9th 11:00 AM CT, ESPN/2
After having just faced each other one game prior, #4 seed Baylor (22-9, 11-7) takes on #5 seed Iowa State (18-12, 9-9). Baylor has been seemingly unable to figure out how to attack Iowa State, as the Bears have lost the previous two meetings with the Cyclones by 15 point margins both times. They have also only been able to score 62 and 58 points respectively in those two meetings. So on the one hand, this might just be a matchup nightmare for Baylor. On the other hand, Baylor is still a very good team and it is exceedingly difficult to beat very good teams three times in a row. That’s even more true when you have a future HOF coach like Scott Drew calling the shots for the Bears. I have faith Baylor will figure something out and secure a quarterfinals victory here.
#1 Kansas vs. #8 West Virginia/#9 Texas Tech
Thursday, March 9th 2:00 PM CT, ESPN/2
#1 seed Kansas (25-6, 13-5) secured a solo Big 12 regular season title, even with a sixteen point loss to Texas to end the regular season. They will now face the winner of #8 seed West Virginia (18-13, 7-11) and #9 seed Texas Tech (16-15, 5-13). Tech has a ton of noise to work through, as Red Raiders coach Mark Adams has been suspended for a “racially insensitive” remark. On top of that, Tech has lost their last three games in a row, including a three point loss to Oklahoma State. West Virginia, on the other hand, is peaking down the stretch, having won three of their last four games. Given WVU is the better team with way less distraction, I like them to win and advance to play Kansas. Kansas has beaten the Mountaineers in their first two meetings. Unlike the Baylor/Iowa State matchup above, however, Kansas is significantly better than West Virginia, meaning I think they get the three win sweep over the Mountaineers.
#2 Texas vs. #7 Oklahoma State/#10 Oklahoma
Thursday, March 9th 6:00 PM CT ESPN/2
#2 seed Texas (23-8, 12-6) picked up a huge win to cap off their regular season, beating Kansas by 16 points. While that didn’t matter in the Big 12 regular season race, the Longhorns might be able to take that win and build momentum going into the Big 12 tournament and NCAA tournament. They will open Big 12 tournament play by taking on the winner of a Bedlam rematch. #7 seed Oklahoma State (17-14, 8-10) is FIRMLY on the bubble, so they really need to win a game or two in the conference tournament. That starts with #10 seed Oklahoma (15-16, 5-13). The Cowboys easily beat Oklahoma in both of their regular season meetings, and given how much more is on the line for Oklahoma State than Oklahoma (unless Oklahoma somehow wins the whole conference tournament), I have the Cowboys advancing to take on Texas. But, with Texas having cleaned up the Cowboys both of their regular season meetings, I like the Longhorns here.
76-68 Oklahoma State
#3 Kansas State vs. #6 TCU
Thursday, March 9th 8:30 PM CT, ESPN/2
#3 seed Kansas State (23-8, 11-7) is looking to wipe a bad taste out of their mouth, after they ended their regular season with a loss at West Virginia. They will battle #6 seed TCU (20-11, 9-9) who is in a very similar position after suffering a fourteen point loss to Oklahoma, the worst team in the Big 12. So one of these teams is going to get somewhat of a momentum boost heading into the NCAA tournament and the other is going to be on a two game losing streak, which you never like to see heading into the postseason. These two split their regular season meetings, with TCU winning earlier in Fort Worth and Kansas State winning more recently in Manhattan. Given the heavy crowd disparity I expect with this game being played in Kansas City, I like Kansas State to win a virtual home game and advance.
75-71 Kansas State