The 2014 Big 12 men’s basketball tournament tips off tonight at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. A doubleheader precedes one of the best quarterfinals in the history of the conference tournament, and we predict what happens round-by-round.
Oklahoma State vs Texas Tech – There are two teams in this conference tournament that aren’t seeded properly in terms of talent. One of them is Oklahoma State, who suffered a rough seven-game patch in Big 12 play and finished under .500 in the conference. They’ve won four of the last five games, and was just short of a Naz Long 3-point basket — twice — to sweep Iowa State this season. Texas Tech has been a dangerous team at home all season, but nearly suffered a similar seven-game losing stretch to close out the regular season until they defeated Texas in the finale. The Cowboys are trending in the right direction; they should pull this off with ease.
Baylor vs TCU – This is the one and only lock of the tournament. Baylor has defeated TCU by an average of 30 points in both meetings. It’s a complete mismatch; the Bears will blow them out again unless shots don’t fall, but they’ll still muster a victory if it turns into a low-scoring, grinding game. Oh yeah, Baylor’s also that other team that’s very underrated in terms of seeding.
Cowboys, Bears advance to the next round.
Iowa State vs Kansas State – Kansas State has had their fair share of issues playing on the road this season. However, they should have the advantage playing closer to home on a neutral court. Not so fast — Iowa State will be bringing plenty of fans to Kansas City. This could very well be the most-attended game of the day, and it’s an absolute toss-up after both teams took the season series at home. We’ll have more coverage of this game later on, but for now, we’ll just say that the Cyclones squeeze one out.
Kansas vs Oklahoma State – No one could have imagined that this would be a quarterfinal game. Kansas comes in without their big man, Joel Embiid. That’s a severe handicap for the Jayhawks. With how the Cowboys have been playing since Marcus Smart has been back, they should be able to dethrone the top overall seed.
Oklahoma vs Baylor – What’s the bigger surprise, Oklahoma having the second seed or Baylor having the seventh seed? The Sooners sweeped the season series, including a grind-it-out game in Waco that kept OU well below their average points per game. The Bears are hot, winning seven of their last eight games and only by five to Texas on the road, but the Sooners are also hot winning five of their last six and losing by just eight to Kansas on the road, who had Embiid. It’s OU in a one-point finish.
Texas vs West Virginia – Compared to the other big tilts, this matchup may have lost some luster with both schools limping to the finish line. Both teams have a 2-4 record in their final six games of the season. The Mountaineers’ offense has shown up in spurts, putting over 100 on Iowa State and over 90 on Kansas (largely thanks to no Embiid), but also put up just 66 on the same Cyclone squad on the road and 62 points to one of the worst defenses in the Big 12, Oklahoma. Texas has hit the ceiling on offense as well, only putting up 53 in the season finale against Texas Tech. Again, it’s hard to beat a team three straight times. If Terry Henderson can play at 100 percent and Devin Williams can continue to put up double-doubles, WVU should edge this one out.
Cyclones, Cowboys, Sooners, Mountaineers advance to the next round.
Iowa State vs Oklahoma State – Surely Okie State nation is a little tired of Iowa State with Long hitting daggers and mocking their best player with a massive flop. The Cyclones match up well against them; Dustin Hogue’s killing it on the boards (25 rebounds in both games combined) and DeAndre Kane is four rebounds and three assists short of hanging two triple-doubles on them. It’s been said before, it’s hard to beat a team three straight times. But if Iowa State lets Marcus Smart and Markel Brown do their thing on offense (not much past the 20′s) and keep them from getting other players to produce, they should sweep them.
Oklahoma vs West Virginia – Both of these teams couldn’t have played two more different games against each other. They combined for 175 points in Morgantown and just 134 points in Norman. West Virginia has the potential to score at will, but in defense of OU’s defense, they have held seven of their last eight teams to 74 points or less. The Sooners pull away at the end to reach the championship.
Cyclones, Sooners advance to the next round.
Iowa State vs Oklahoma – Iowa State spoils a near-third installment of Bedlam. Defeating two schools from Oklahoma is a tall order for the Cyclones, but the keys will be to keep them from getting to the foul line (especially Ryan Spangler, which worked in the victory at Ames) and keeping Buddy Hield away from the perimeter. This is really tough matchup for Iowa State, and ultimately, getting owned on the boards and getting to the free throw line will keep the Cyclones from taking the Big 12 crown home.
Big 12 tournament winner: Oklahoma Sooners