The Big 12 had several surprises this season, most notably, a shared conference title between in-state rivals Kansas and Kansas State. Also surprising were Oklahoma State and Iowa State. Many of the middle of the pack teams need a strong showing in the conference tournament. Here’s a team by team recap and what they need to do to secure a tournament spot. Both Kansas and Kansas State have first round byes.
Co-champion Kansas is set for a spot in the field of 68. What they need to do is win the conference tournament to secure a #1 seed for the tournament. The Jayhawks have been solid overall, but have had some questionable losses that most #1 seeds don’t have during a season. Losses to TCU and Oklahoma make us question whether they are worthy of a #1 seed. They will likely win the conference tournament, but it won’t be as easy as it has been for them in the past. Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and even Iowa State have been formidable opponents for them. Ben McLemore, Elijah Johnson, and Jeff Withey have been leading the way, but their lack of depth will cause some problems for them.
Kansas State is also set for a spot in the field of 68. They will likely be a 4 or 5 seed in the tournament, and could improve that with a strong showing in the conference tournament. Rodney McGruder has been gradually getting better during conference play and Will Spralding, Angel Rodriguez, and Thomas Gipson have provided solid support in K-State’s run to a co-Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats will have a tough possible matchup with Oklahoma State in the 2nd round in which they may come up on the wrong side.
Oklahoma State is an interesting case. They draw Baylor in the first round, and while they’ve handled them during the regular season, Baylor closed out the season well with a convincing win over Kansas. You never know which team will show up with Baylor, but hopefully the conference tournament and a chance to get a spot in the NCAA tournament will motivate them to play a lot with a lot of energy and fire. Pierre Jackson is capable of getting hot and Cory Jefferson and Isaiah Austin provide a solid frontcourt duo. The Cowboys have been solid all year behind Marcus Smart, Le’Bryan Nash, and Markel Brown leading the way. They should handle Baylor, but their 2nd round match up with Kansas State will provide what could be the best game of the tournament. We feel they will beat Kansas State and compete for the tournament championship with Kansas, which is sure to be an exciting finish.
Oklahoma, as the #4 seed, draws #5 Iowa State. Both of these teams have been sleepers in the conference, and it’s likely that one of the two will be on the outside looking in. The winner of this game will likely be able to convince the selection committee to let them into the field of 68. Iowa State has been playing a lot better toward the end of the season including a heated battle with Kansas. We look for the Cyclones win this match up with the Sooners and then lose admirably to the Jayhawks.
Texas sits on the outside looking in this season, but they have been energized by the return of star point guard, Myck Kabongo, and these games will be a great preview of what’s coming for them next season. He has provided a great boost for the Longhorns and instantly has made them better. They will handle TCU in the first round, and give a great battle to Kansas State before bowing out to the Wildcats.
West Virginia should be able to beat Texas Tech, but will be no match for Kansas in a 2nd round match up.
Projected NCAA tournament teams
- Kansas State
- Oklahoma State
- Iowa State
Updated Big 12 Power Rankings
1. Kansas 2. Kansas State 3. Oklahoma State 4. Oklahoma 5. Iowa State 6. Baylor 7. Texas 8. West Virginia, 9. Texas Tech 10. TCU
Amit Tailor is a Scout and Correspondent for NetScouts Basketball and covers the Big 12.