The 2014 Big 12 Tournament tips off on Wednesday evening in Kansas City, with seven out of the ten teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament, with an eighth on the bubble. The top six seeds all receive byes to the quarterfinal round, while No. 8 Oklahoma State plays No. 9 Texas Tech and No. 7 Baylor plays No. 10 TCU in the two opening round match ups. The OSU-Tech winner will play Kansas in the quarterfinals, while the Baylor-TCU victor draws Oklahoma.
All times Central
Wednesday, March 12
6:00 pm [Big 12 Network] No. 8 Oklahoma State vs. No. 9 Texas Tech 6:00 p.m.
8:30 pm [Big 12 Network] No. 7 Baylor vs. No. 10 TCU
Thursday, March 13
11:30 am [ESPN2] No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Kansas State
2:00 pm [ESPN2] No. 1 Kansas vs. OSU/TTU winner
6:00 pm [Big 12 Network] No. 2 Oklahoma vs. BU/TCU winner
8:30 pm [Big 12 Network] No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 West Virginia
Friday, March 14
6:00 pm [Big 12 Network] Thursday Afternoon Winners
8:30 pm [Big 12 Network] Thursday Evening Winners
Saturday, March 15
8:00 pm [ESPN] Semifinal Winners
Chuck Norris Facts
You knew the Big 12 was good this year, but to put it in perspective, consider these fun facts compiled by the conference:
* The Big 12 currently rates as the top conference in the latest overall RPI, strength of schedule, non-conference RPI and non-conference strength of schedule. Seven Big 12 teams rate in the Top 47 of the RPI, the most of any conference in the country. The RPI isn't the best rating system out there, but so long as it continues to be considered by the NCAA Selection Committee, it will continue to be worth keeping tabs on it.
* Seven of the ten Big 12 teams have been ranked in the AP Top 25 this season, more than any other conference.
* A full nine Big 12 teams currently rate in the Top 80 in ESPN's Basketball Power Index, Ken Pomeroy's ratings, and Jeff Sagarin's ratings.
* Between 1997 and 2013, no team in college basketball won four consecutive games played against AP Top 25 opponents. This season, both Kansas and Texas pulled off the feat.
* The Big 12 went a ridiculous 102-26 against a strong non-conference schedule this season, the top mark in the nation in terms of winning percentage.
Texas Draws West Virginia
The good news is that by earning the No. 3 seed, the Longhorns avoided a potential semifinal match up against Kansas. The bad news is that they drew an opening round match up with the team that just beat Kansas in the season finale.
West Virginia is a bit of an oddity this season: they finished 9-9 in the Big 12 to earn the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament, but are just on the fringe of the bubble thanks to going just 8-5 against a weak non-conference schedule. The Mountaineers spanked Iowa State by 25 at home, before getting torched by 17 in Ames a week later. They lost 4 of their final 6 games on the year, but one of those wins came against Kansas.
So yeah, it's a little hard to know what to expect from West Virginia. If you're looking for good signs, Texas was one of only two teams (Oklahoma State being the other) to knock off the Mountaineers both at home and on the road, and the Longhorns won both games comfortably, picking up an 80-69 win in Austin in January and delivering an 88-71 thumping in Morgantown.
West Virginia made their living from beyond the arc, where they drained an outstanding 242 of their 622 attempts, good for a 39% rate that ranked 30th best in the country. By way of comparison, Texas hoisted up just 487 shots from three-point range, and made only 157 (32%). In the two games the teams played each other, however? The Mountaineers managed to make just 12 of their 47 three-point attempts (26%), while the Longhorns connected on 8 of their 22 attempts (36%). I believe we have identified a key to the game, yes?
Here's another one for you: we absolutely murdered the Mountaineers on the glass in the two regular season meetings, grabbing nearly 40% of our own misses while allowing them a second chance following a miss just 20% of the time. If it were possible to combine the Mountaineers three-point shooting ability with Texas' frontcourt strength, you'd have one hell of a basketball team. As is, both are incomplete teams with exploitable vulnerabilities. Here's to hoping that Texas can be the team that manages to do the exploiting a third time this year.