The tenth Big 12 Men's basketball tournament tips off this morning at American Airlines Center in Dallas. Only four teams have even won a Big 12 tournament title. Kansas took the first three titles beginning in 1997. Iowa State led by Marcus Fizer won the championship in 2000. Oklahoma then ran off three straight titles. And Oklahoma State has taken the last two. Texas has played in the finals twice but obviously never won. Coach Barnes said winning the Big 12 tournament was one of the goals the Horns set as a team this preseason. Winning the regular season was another and that one has already been accomplished.
This tourney doesn't have the superstars or buzz that it has in past years. The Big 12 is down this season, and there are very few people who would argue with that. Texas is a premier team. Oklahoma and Kansas can raise their games to an elite level on occasions. But beyond those three, no one is guaranteed an NCAA tournament bid. I don't believe the Big 12 has ever failed to send less than four teams to the Dance. This could be the year.
Colorado and A&M sit squarely on the bubble. Gonzaga's win the other night saved an at-large berth and Seton Hall's early exit from the Big East tournament may open another slot. Either the Buffaloes or the Aggies will likely play their way into the tournament but not both. Colorado must win a first round game this afternoon to even enter the discussion. If they win, the two bubble teams will square off on Friday. The winner is likely in. The loser will not be so lucky. Neither team played an impressive non-conference schedule. In fact, both teams played embarrassing non-conference schedules that could still cost them a bid. One way or the other, I see the Big 12 getting four bids.
My fearless Big 12 Tournament Predictions
#9 Kansas State (6-10) vs. #8 Texas Tech (6-10) 11:30 AM CST
Cartier Martin vs. Jarrius Jackson: two good players on very bad teams. Kansas State has lost eight of their last eleven games and they will lose their coach if they drop this one too. The Wildcats rally one last time for Wooldridge and advance to face the Horns.
#12 Baylor (4-12) vs. #5 Colorado (9-7) 2:00 PM CST
Don't let the Bears' record fool you. They do have talent. Curtis Jerrells and Aaron Bruce present a formidable guard tandem. Unfortunately, their latest McDonald's All American doesn't arrive until the fall. CU has too much to lose. The Buffs move on.
#10 Iowa State (6-10) vs. #7 Oklahoma State (6-10) 6:00 PM CST
The Cyclones have the best backcourt in the conference but not much else. OSU has more talent than anyone but Kansas and Texas. But they didn't learn how to play together until it was too late. OSU wins another game for Eddie.
#6 Nebraska (7-9) vs. #11 Missouri (5-11) 8:20 PM CST
The Tigers quit a long time ago but they did beat the Cornhuskers in their last game. Revenge is sweet. Nebraska advances.
#1 Texas (13-3) vs. #9 Kansas State 11:30 AM CST
The Horns survived in Manhattan in their only meeting of the season. That was a road game. This one will not be. The burnt orange faithful come out in numbers. Texas marches on.
#4 Texas A&M (10-6) vs. #5 Colorado 2:00 PM CST
This will be the most intriguing game of the tournament. In my opinion, both teams are merely average though. A&M's physical style is tough to watch. Richard Roby's big game shoots the Buffalos on to the semis.
#2 Kansas (13-3) vs. #7 Oklahoma State 6:00 PM CST
The Cowboys almost beat KU a few weeks ago at home. Kansas did win by 15 points but the game was much closer. The younger Sutton has OSU playing better on the offensive side. Combine more fluid offense with their already stiff d and we have the makings of an upset. I won't pick it but wouldn't be surprised. Kansas moves on.
#3 Oklahoma (11-5) vs. #6 Nebraska 8:20 PM CST
Will there be anyone left in the stands for this one? I can't see any reason to watch or care. The Sooners big three will be too much.
#1 Texas vs. #5 Colorado 1:00 PM CST
Texas rolled over the Buffs in Austin early in the season. CU is simply not good enough to hang with the Horns even if we play poorly. The Horns are one step closer to hoisting another trophy.
#2 Kansas vs. #3 Oklahoma 3:20 PM CST
This will be a fun game to watch. In their only meeting, KU made a miracle comeback in Lawrence to win by one. Kansas is better now and OU is worse. The Jayhawks make Kelvin Samson stomp violently for a full forty minutes. The youngsters set up a rematch with Texas.
#1 Texas vs. #2 Kansas 2:00 PM CST
This is the game the fans really want to see. I know we rolled them by 25 just two weeks ago but that was in Austin. KU will travel well to Dallas and we won't have the same home court comfort we enjoyed at the Drum. Kansas is ten deep. The Horns play six strong and reach for a seventh. I don't see Texas dominating either of their first two games enough for the starters to rest. Texas runs out of gas in a close one. Kansas takes their first tournament title since 1999.