5 Teams with the Most to Prove in the Big 12 Tournament
The Big 12 tournament begins this week in Kansas City, and up and down the league, there are plenty of teams that have something to prove.
There are teams like Iowa State and Baylor that are fighting for their NCAA tournament lives. Then, there are teams like Kansas and Kansas State that are playing for seeding when the field of 68 is announced on Sunday. For the Jayhawks, a potential one-seed in the national tournament is on the line.
Here are the five teams with the most to prove in this week’s Big 12 tournament.
5. Kansas State
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Obviously, Kansas State is playing for seeding at this point. The Wildcats are firmly in the NCAA tournament, but they are probably hovering around the four or five-seed line. If Kansas State could play its way into a top three seed, it would drastically increase its chances of advancing deep into the NCAA tournament.
First, the Wildcats would avoid an often dangerous 12 or 13 seed in the first round. Second, Kansas State would not have a potential matchup with a one-seed until the Elite Eight.
A deep run in the Big 12 tournament could potentially improve Kansas State's seeding in the NCAA tournament. If that happens, Kansas State could make a Final Four run.
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Oklahoma should be in the field of 68, but considering the Sooners were just upset at last place TCU, a first round Big 12 tournament exit against fellow bubble team Iowa State probably would not be a great idea.
The Sooners have a nice computer profile, ranking No. 33 in the RPI, according to Jerry Palm of CBSSports.com. However, there isn’t a lot on their tournament resume that jumps out. Oklahoma has home wins over Kansas and Oklahoma State, and that is about it. It would be nice if the Sooners can prove they can beat quality teams outside of Norman.
Oklahoma should be ok on Selection Sunday, but just to be safe, it needs to play well in Kansas City.
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Baylor has been the most disappointing team in the conference this year. The Bears are 18-13 overall and 9-9 in conference play. They are the six-seed in this week’s Big 12 tournament despite being picked to finish second in the preseason coaches’ poll.
At this point, Baylor will probably have to win the Big 12 title to get into the NCAA tournament. The Bears have struggled against the RPI top 50 with a 3-10 record, and they have a couple bad home losses to Northwestern and College of Charleston.
The good news is that, after a convincing victory over Kansas, Baylor has some momentum heading into this week, and the Bears have the talent to win three games in Kansas City. That would prove that this season isn't a disappointment.
2. Iowa State
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Iowa State is firmly on the bubble heading into this week’s Big 12 tournament, and its performance in Kansas City will ultimately decide its postseason fate. The Cyclones will take on Oklahoma in a matchup between two teams who are hovering right around the at-large cutline, but there is no doubt Iowa State needs the win more than the Sooners.
The Cyclones have put together a decent resume, but they have not done much outside of Ames, which won’t sit well with the selection committee. Iowa State has a chance to change that this week.
If Iowa State wins its first game, the Cyclones would more than likely get another shot at Kansas. Iowa State had the Jayhawks beat twice this season but could not close the deal. A win in the third meeting and a berth in the Big 12 finals would probably be enough to get Iowa State into the field of 68.
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Kansas enters this week with a potential one-seed on the line, but the Jayhawks might need a little help in other league tournaments to get there. One thing is for sure, Kansas will not earn a top seed if it does not cut down the nets in Kansas City.
More than anything, the Jayhawks need to bounce back and play well after their loss to Baylor. Kansas went on the road and was handled easily by the Bears, 81-58 on Saturday. A little positive momentum would be nice as the Jayhawks begin their run at a national title.