The 2015 Phillips 66 Big 12 basketball tournament will be played from Wednesday, March 11th through Saturday, March 14th inside the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The Iowa State Cyclones are your reigning tournament championships and should have a decent shot to defend the title.
However, it’s the Kansas Jayhawks who are getting all the hype right now, and rightfully so. That’s because they have won at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title in 11 consecutive seasons, including outright titles six of the past seven years. They went 13-5 within the conference to finish one game ahead of both Iowa State and Oklahoma.
Kansas (+255) is the favorite to win the Big 12 Tournament, followed by Oklahoma (+345), Iowa State (+400) and Baylor (+550). All four of these teams will receive first-round byes in the conference tournament, as will West Virginia and Oklahoma State. Here is a look at the schedule, along with the favorite, my best value play, and my sleeper selection.
Big 12 Tournament Schedule
First Round (Wednesday, March 11)
- Game 1 – (8) Kansas State vs (9) TCU
- Game 2 – (7) Texas vs (10) Texas Tech
Quarterfinals (Thursday, March 12)
- Game 3 – (4) Baylor vs (5) West Virginia
- Game 4 – (1) Kansas vs Game 1 Winner
- Game 5 – (2) Iowa State vs Game 2 Winner
- Game 6 – (3) Oklahoma vs (6) Oklahoma State
Semifinals (Friday, March 13)
- Game 7 – Game 3 Winner vs Game 4 Winner
- Game 8 – Game 5 Winner vs Game 6 Winner
Championship Game (Saturday, March 14)
- Game 9 – Game 7 Winner vs Game 8 Winner
The Favorite: Kansas +255
Many expected this to be the year that the Jayhawks wouldn’t win the Big 12 because they lost two lottery picks to the NBA Draft in the offseason. Well, they would have none of it as they went 24-7 overall and 13-5 within the conference for yet another conference title. It’s time to start giving Bill Self the respect he deserves.
Kansas comes into the tournament not playing its best basketball, though. It has gone just 3-3 in its last six games overall, and one of the wins was an overtime victory at home against West Virginia. Now, the Jayhawks are dealing with the suspension of 6-8 forward Cliff Alexander, who is sidelined while the NCAA investigates possible impermissible benefits received. They clearly aren’t as strong without him.
The Value Play: Iowa State +400
The reigning Big 12 tournament champs are going to be a tough out in 2015 once again. The Cyclones play a style that is very tough to prepare for on short notice, and conference tournaments are all about short notice. Even though these teams play each other twice a year, the Cyclones are still a match-up nightmare.
Iowa State thinks attack, attack, attack all the time. That’s why it ranks 9th in the country in points per game at 79.3, and 8th in assists at 16.8. It also is a very efficient offensive team, ranking 11th in field goal percentage (48.5%). The Cyclones do struggle at times defensively, but they are never out of any game due to their attacking style.
The Sleeper: Baylor +550
Baylor went 23-8 on the season and 11-7 within the Big 12. It comes in playing as well as anyone in the conference. It has gone 5-1 in its last six games overall with its only loss coming in overtime at Texas by a final of 61-59. Its zone defense is very tough to prepare for on short notice.
It went on the road and ended Iowa State’s 21-game home winning streak with a 79-70 win. It also dominated both Kansas State (69-42) and West Virginia (78-66) at home during this stretch. The Bears have double-digit wins over Oklahoma (69-58), Texas (83-60) and WVU (87-69) this year as well.
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