Big 12 Tournament Predictions
The Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO will host the 2014 Big 12 Conference Tournament. The 10 teams within the conference will battle it out from Wednesday, March 12 through the championship game on Sunday, March 15. The top six seeds will all get a bye into the second round, while the bottom four seeds all have to play on Wednesday.
Kansas has won six of the past eight Big 12 Tournaments to really dominate this thing. The nine other teams will all be gunning for the top-seeded Jayhawks, who along with Oklahoma, Texas, Iowa State, and Kansas State, should all be in the NCAA tournament. However, there are a few teams that may still have some work to do.
Both Oklahoma State and Baylor finished the season strong to get back into the discussion. Joe Lunardi currently has both in the field of 68, which would give the Big 12 a whopping seven teams, more than any other conference. West Virginia could even get in if it makes a surprise run to the title game. I preview the favorite, my value play, and a sleeper pick for the 2014 Big 12 Tournament.
Big 12 Tournament Bracket
The Favorite: Kansas (+220)
The Jayhawks (23-8, 14-4) remarkably capped off their 10th straight campaign with at least a share of the Big 12 regular season title. That run of dominance is unprecedented around the rest of the country as no team has owned a conference quite like Kansas. Amazingly, it was able to keep this streak alive despite breaking in five new starters and relying on freshmen to carry the team.
Indeed, both Andrew Wiggins (16.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and Joel Embiid (11.2 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.6 bpg) are future NBA stars. Wiggins made first-team All-Big 12, while Embiid was a second-team selection and the Defensive Player of the Year. The problem is that Embiid is expected to miss the Big 12 Tournament, which will really hamper the Jayhawks. Senior Perry Ellis (13.2 ppg, 6.4 rpg) has taken his game to the next level this season, and he’ll have to be big in Embiid’s absence.
The Value Play: Oklahoma (+800)
The Sooners (23-8, 12-6) went under the radar all season. Somehow, they continue to get no respect despite earning the No. 2 seed in what was the toughest conference in the country. That is indicated by the fact that they have the fifth-best odds to win the tournament. Lon Krueger is one of the most underrated head coaches in the country and deserves a lot more recognition for the job he has done as well.
Oklahoma comes in playing well having won three straight and five of six overall. It shoots 45.1 percent from the field and averages 82.5 points per game. It is led by Buddy Hield, who averages 16.8 ppg and shoots 40.2 percent from 30-point range. This is a deep, balanced team with Cameron Clark (15.2 ppg), Isaiah Cousins (11.0 ppg), Jordan Woodard (10.3 ppg) and Ryan Spangler (9.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg). These five have started all 31 games together.
The Sleeper: West Virginia (+1200)
The Mountaineers (17-14, 9-9) are actually still alive for the NCAA Tournament even if they do not win the Big 12 Tournament. They have a shot at making the big dance due to their .500 conference record. If they were to make it to the Big 12 Championship, they would have a 12-9 record in the toughest conference in America. That would keep West Virginia playing past this tournament because it has already proven capable of beating anyone.
It has some of the most impressive performances of the season in the Big 12. It has beaten Oklahoma, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas at home. It has also gone on the road and knocked off Baylor. The Mountaineers average 78.5 points per game, led by one of the nation’s best guards in Juwan Staten (18.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 5.9 apg), who is an absolute thrill to watch. Eron Harris (17.9 ppg) and Terry Henderson (11.8 ppg) compliment him well.
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