The Big 12 is loaded and thrilling. That sets an exciting stage for the conference tournament, which begins on March 12 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.
It's not out of the question that eight teams will make the NCAA tournament from this conference, and Kansas stands a strong chance at capturing a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance if it can make a run to the tournament title.
ESPN's Andy Katz set the table for Kansas' chances at the coveted seed prior to the Jayhawks' game with West Virginia, which they lost:
If Kansas loses to West Virginia and doesn't win Big 12 could open up No. 1 seed to Wisconsin if Badgers win Big Ten tournament. Resume.— Andy Katz (@ESPNAndyKatz) March 8, 2014
Although that game was a setback to the hopes of Kansas, it also highlighted just how competitive this conference is. West Virginia will enter as the sixth seed, and they've shown they can beat anyone in the field.
This figures to be one of the best conference tournaments this season. Take a look at how you can catch the action, and then I'll let you in on which team is going to win.
Schedule and Viewing Information
ESPN3 is live streaming all of the games.
|Date and Time (ET)||Game No.||Matchup||TV|
|Wednesday, March 12|
|7 p.m.||1||Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech||ESPN3|
|9:30 p.m.||2||Baylor vs. TCU||ESPN3|
|Thursday, March 13|
|12:30 p.m.||3||Iowa State vs. Kansas State||ESPN2|
|3 p.m.||4||Kansas vs. Oklahoma State/Texas Tech||ESPN2|
|7 p.m.||5||Oklahoma vs. Baylor/TCU||ESPN3|
|9:30 p.m.||6||Texas vs. West Virginia||ESPN3|
|Friday, March 14|
|7 p.m.||7||Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4||ESPN3 or ESPNU|
|9:30 p.m.||8||Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6||ESPN3 or ESPNU|
|Saturday, March 15|
|9:30 p.m.||Final||Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8||ESPN|
View the full bracket here. EyeonCBB also tweeted it:
Championship Game: Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma
Oklahoma State enters this tournament as the No. 8 seed and in need of a strong run to make the NCAA tournament. This is a talented team, and I expect a focused and strong effort.
Which team will win the tourney?
The Cowboys start their tournament off with a Texas Tech team they just beat 84-62 on Feb. 22. Next up would be a date with Kansas. Oklahoma State also just beat Kansas 72-65 on March 1.
With size and talent on the wings, the Cowboys provide tough resistance to freshman sensation Andrew Wiggins.
Once the Cowboys down top-seeded Kansas, they will face Iowa State or Kansas State. The Cowboys throttled Kansas State 77-61 on March 3. They did lose to Iowa State on March 8, but that loss came on the road and in overtime.
Marcus Smart will have a strong tournament and lead the Cowboys to the championship game where they will take on Oklahoma.
The second-seeded Sooners will start off with the winner of the Baylor-TCU game. They combined to go 3-0 this season against those two teams.
Next up is likely a date with Texas, and Oklahoma beat the Longhorns by 12 on March 1.
Oklahoma was in good form to finish the season, and the Sooners will be motivated to secure a prime seed for the Big Dance.
Champion: Oklahoma State
Since coming off of his three-game suspension for pushing a fan, Smart has been excellent. The sophomore guard has poured in at least 16 points in each of his five games since his suspension. Also, his combined total of assists and rebounds has been double digits in all those games except one, but he did score 27 points in that game.
Following the Cowboys' win over Kansas State on March 3, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford had this to say, in a quote captured by Sports Illustrated's Brian Hamilton, about his star guard:
You can’t say enough about his effort. He is amazing defensively, because he can guard so many different positions and do it at a high level with great intensity. He soaks up the scouting report. He is really attentive to what we are doing defensively. What I loved about tonight and the Kansas game, is when he was struggling offensively, he was still getting after it on the defensive end. That’s where we need to be.
This season has seen Smart's draft stock take a dip, but he is in the middle of improving that. Smart will lead his team to the conference championship.
Oklahoma beat the Cowboys twice this season, but the last time the two met, on Feb. 15, Oklahoma won by just three and Smart didn't play due to his suspension.
The Cowboys will avenge that loss in a big way and take the tournament title.