Conference tournaments are getting under way, and the Big 12 Tournament will be important to watch as the conference is looking for more teams to sneak into March Madness.
ESPN.com's Joe Lunardi currently has five teams from the Big 12 getting into the NCAA tournament, but there is a chance for even more teams to work their way in.
Kansas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State are all locks to make the tournament. Oklahoma and Iowa State are also looking good right now, but they can't afford to go out too early in the conference tournament.
Baylor helped its case by knocking off Kansas this weekend (recap via ESPN.com), but it will take a deep run in the Big 12 Tournament for the Bears to sneak into the dance.
After looking at the conference's current situation, let's find out when and where to watch the Big 12 Tournament this upcoming week.
All times in ET
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Game 1: No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Texas Tech, 6 p.m., Big 12 Network
Game 2: No. 7 Texas vs. No. 10 TCU, 8:30 p.m., Big 12 Network
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Game 3: No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Iowa State, 11:30 a.m., ESPN2
Game 4: No. 1 Kansas vs. Game 1 Winner, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Game 5: No. 2 Kansas State vs. Game 2 Winner, 6 p.m., ESPN2
Game 6: No. 3 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Baylor, 8:30 p.m., ESPN2
Friday, March 15, 2013
Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 6:30 p.m., Big 12 Network/ESPNU
Game 8: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 9 p.m., Big 12 Network/ESPNU
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Game 9: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 5 p.m., ESPN
Teams to Watch
Kansas Jayhawks (26-5)
Although the Jayhawks have nothing to worry about on Selection Sunday, the Big 12 Tournament will be big for them.
Kansas has been near the top of the polls all season, but a loss to Baylor this past week has made the conference tournament extremely important. They shared the Big 12 regular-season title with Kansas State, but the Jayhawks will be the No. 1 seed in the tournament.
The Big 12 Tournament gives Kansas a chance to make another run at a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The winner of the Big Ten and ACC will get a No. 1 seed. Barring a huge upset in its conference tournament, Gonzaga will get a No. 1 seed as well. That leaves one top seed remaining for Kansas, Georgetown or a surprise contender.
Freshman Ben McLemore will have a chance to shine on the national stage. He has had an absolutely sensational freshman season. He has nine games with at least 20 points, including a season-high of 36 three games ago against West Virginia.
If Georgetown makes an early exit in the Big East Tournament, Kansas should have a No. 1 seed. To be safe, Kansas needs to win the Big 12 Tournament.
Baylor Bears (18-13)
With an upset against Kansas on Saturday, Baylor helped its chances of making the tournament. However, it will probably take a trip to the Big 12 finals for Baylor to get a chance at an at-large bid.
The Bears have quality wins against Kentucky, Oklahoma State and Kansas. They also held their own at Gonzaga and nearly knocked off Kansas State earlier in March.
Senior Pierre Jackson is coming off back-to-back good games. He went 11-of-13 from the field on Saturday and had 28 points in the upset of the Jayhawks.
Every March has rising stars lead their teams to improbable runs, and Jackson has the talent to carry his Bears into the NCAA tournament.
At 9-9 in the Big 12, they have a legitimate case for an at-large bid if they win a few games in the conference tournament. However, they will probably need to win the tournament to ensure they get a bid.
Other than those two teams, there's not much on the line in this tournament.
The winner of the Iowa State-Oklahoma game on Thursday will be a lock to get a bid. The loser will have to sweat out Selection Sunday. However, both have knocked off some of the top teams in the conference and played ranked teams close.
It will be interesting to see if Rick Barnes can lead Texas to a hot streak or if Bob Huggins can pull some March magic and get his Mountaineers into the tournament. Both schools would have to win the Big 12 Tournament, but anything is possible in March.