Big 12 Tournament 2020: Preview and Predictions for Every Team

Joel Reuter@JoelReuterBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2020

Big 12 Tournament 2020: Preview and Predictions for Every Team

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    Chris Covatta/Getty Images

    With the regular-season schedule wrapped up, the Big 12 tournament begins Wednesday from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Iowa State pulled off a 78-66 upset of Kansas in the conference tournament title game last year, and those two were eventually joined by Texas Tech, Kansas State, Baylor and Oklahoma in the NCAA tournament.

    This year, Kansas and Baylor have been the cream of the conference crop, with both teams spending time in the No. 1 spot in the AP poll.

    According to the latest bracketology from Joe Lunardi of ESPN, six teams are projected for the tournament once again, with Kansas, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Texas included among the 68-team field.

    However, that could change in the next week.

    Ahead you'll find a full team-by-team preview of the Big 12 tournament, complete with predictions on how far each team will advance.

No. 10 Seed: Kansas State Wildcats

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    Xavier Sneed
    Xavier SneedPeter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    First-round matchup: No. 7 TCU (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Loses in their first game

    Kansas State lost 10 in a row before picking up a win at home against Iowa State on Saturday.

    That included an 11-point loss on the road to TCU on Feb. 15, with guard Desmond Bane tallying 17 points, eight assists and eight rebounds for the Horned Frogs.

    K-State senior Xavier Sneed exploded for a career-high 31 points Saturday, and he will need to have another big game if the Wildcats are going to make it out of the first round. That said, it's tough to overlook that lengthy losing streak.

No. 9 Seed: Iowa State Cyclones

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    Rasir Bolton
    Rasir BoltonDavid K Purdy/Getty Images

    First-round matchup: No. 8 Oklahoma State (Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Loses in their first game

    This is not the same Iowa State team that won 23 games and the Big 12 tournament last year en route to a No. 6 seed in the NCAA tournament.

    The star power of Tyrese Haliburton would have made the Cyclones an intriguing upset pick, but the projected lottery pick has been sidelined since early February with a broken wrist. While Iowa State did beat Oklahoma State at home earlier this year, Haliburton contributed 20 points and six assists.

    His absence, along with the fact that Iowa State has gone a brutal 1-13 away from Hilton Coliseum this year, makes it tough to pick the Cyclones to advance beyond their opening game.

No. 8 Seed: Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Cameron McGriff
    Cameron McGriffEd Zurga/Getty Images

    First-round matchup: No. 9 Iowa State (Wednesday, 7 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Wins first game, loses to No. 1 Kansas

    After a rocky 1-8 start to conference play, Oklahoma State has gone 7-3 in its last 10 games to push back toward relevance on the national scene.

    The Cowboys just beat first-round opponent Iowa State by 12 points back on Feb. 29, with Cameron McGriff leading the way with 19 points and seven rebounds.

    Their current momentum should be enough to carry them past the Cyclones, but a tough test awaits in the second round in the form of No. 1 seed Kansas. The Jayhawks won by 25 points on Feb. 24 as the Cowboys simply had no answer for All-American candidate Udoka Azubuike (19 points, 16 rebounds, three blocks) down low.

    Expect another lopsided game and a second-round exit by Oklahoma State.

No. 7 Seed: TCU Horned Frogs

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    Desmond Bane
    Desmond BaneEthan Miller/Getty Images

    First-round matchup: No. 10 Kansas State (Wednesday, 9 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Wins first game, loses to No. 2 Baylor

    Despite a 7-11 record in Big 12 play, TCU has been a tough draw for some of the conference's top teams.

    The Horned Frogs beat then-No. 2 Baylor on Feb. 29, then played Kansas tough at Allen Fieldhouse in a nine-point loss March 4. They also have wins over Texas Tech and West Virginia.

    They should have no trouble with Kansas State in the tournament opener, and they have already proved capable of beating second-round opponent Baylor.

    Desmond Bane (23 points, 9-of-18 shooting) and PJ Fuller (21 points, 7-of-12 shooting) both had big games in the earlier win over the Bears, and it will take a similar performance to pull off another upset. Expect a close game, but Baylor will avenge the earlier loss.

No. 6 Seed: West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Oscar Tshiebwe
    Oscar TshiebweRon Jenkins/Associated Press

    Quarterfinals matchup: No. 3 Oklahoma (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Loses in their first game

    Fresh off an upset of Baylor in the regular-season finale, West Virginia is looking to solidify its seeding in the NCAA tournament, and a win over Oklahoma would go a long way.

    Freshman big man Oscar Tshiebwe had 16 points and 12 rebounds against the Bears, and he has been a key to success all season. The Mountaineers are 14-5 in games when he scores in double figures, compared to just 7-5 when he has been held to single digits.

    With four sophomores and two freshmen in the regular rotation, this is a young West Virginia team that might not be ready to make a serious postseason run just yet.

    The fact that the Mountaineers lost twice during the regular season to Oklahoma by a combined 21 points also doesn't help their case.

No. 5 Seed: Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Jahmi'us Ramsey
    Jahmi'us RamseyDavid K Purdy/Getty Images

    Quarterfinals matchup: No. 4 Texas (Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Wins first game, loses to No. 1 Kansas

    Texas Tech has stumbled down the stretch with four straight losses, including a 10-point loss at home to Texas on Feb. 29.

    That said, this is still a dangerous Red Raiders team thanks to a stingy defense that ranks No. 8 in KenPom.com's adjusted defensive efficiency.

    In their last two games, they took Baylor to overtime on the road and lost by just four to a red-hot Kansas team, so their four-game losing streak is a bit deceiving.

    Highly regarded freshmen Jahmi'us Ramsey (18 points) and Terrence Shannon Jr. (13 points) both played well in a 62-57 win over Texas back on Feb. 8, and those two will be the key to success once again in a well-balanced No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed matchup.

    Can anyone beat Kansas right now, though?

No. 4 Seed: Texas Longhorns

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    Jericho Sims
    Jericho SimsEd Zurga/Getty Images

    Quarterfinals matchup: No. 5 Texas Tech (Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Loses in their first game

    A five-game winning streak vaulted Texas up the Big 12 standings and into the No. 4 seed spot for the conference tournament.

    However, the regular season ended on a sour note when Oklahoma State handed it a 81-59 loss at home Saturday.

    The Longhorns have leaned heavily on a defense that ranks 23rd in KenPom's adjusted defensive efficiency, yet they allowed the Cowboys to shoot a blistering 66 percent from the field in that loss.

    The opening matchup with Texas Tech will likely be an elimination game for both teams as far as a trip to the NCAA tournament is concerned.

    The Red Raiders have played better than their recent win-loss record indicates, and they will send the Longhorns packing.

No. 3 Seed: Oklahoma Sooners

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    Kristian Doolittle
    Kristian DoolittleKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Quarterfinals matchup: No. 6 West Virginia (Thursday, 9 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Wins first two games, loses to No. 1 Kansas in finals

    One of four teams to finish 9-9 in conference play, Oklahoma finished with a 4-2 record against Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia to claim the No. 3 seed in the Big 12 tournament.

    A well-balanced Sooners attack is led by the trio of Kristian Doolittle (15.8 PPG, 8.9 RPG), Austin Reaves (14.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG) and Brady Manek (14.4 PPG, 6.2 RPG).

    Reaves, a Wichita State transfer in his first season with the Sooners, poured in a career-high 41 points on 12-of-23 shooting against TCU on Saturday.

    Can he stay hot and lead the team to an upset win over No. 2 seed Baylor?

    The Bears won both regular-season meetings, including an 11-point victory on Feb. 18 that saw star guard Jared Butler score 22 points and knock down five threes.

    With a 2-3 record in their last five games, Baylor looks ripe for an upset, and Oklahoma has the horses to advance to the Big 12 title game.

No. 2 Seed: Baylor Bears

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    Jared Butler
    Jared ButlerPeter G. Aiken/Getty Images

    Quarterfinals matchup: No. 7 TCUpredicted (Thursday, 7 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Wins first game, loses to No. 3 Oklahoma

    Recent road losses to TCU (75-72) and West Virginia (76-64) have sent Baylor tumbling down the AP poll and off the No. 1 seed line for the NCAA tournament.

    However, it did not finish 15-3 in Big 12 play by accident.

    A top 20 team in KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency (18th) and adjusted defensive efficiency (fourth), the Bears have looked like a legitimate title contender for most of the season.

    A few holes have been exposed of late, though.

    In the loss to TCU, they struggled from beyond the arc, hitting just four of 17 three-point attempts. Rebounding was the issue in their latest loss to West Virginia, with the Mountaineers winning the rebounding by a staggering 40-26 margin.

    The Bears will have a chance to avenge the TCU loss in their first game, assuming the Horned Frogs take care of business against Kansas State.

    However, No. 3 seed Oklahoma provides a tough test in the next round with good size and a well-balanced offense. That could be where Baylor's conference tournament run ends.

No. 1 Seed: Kansas Jayhawks

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    Udoka Azubuike
    Udoka AzubuikeJamie Squire/Getty Images

    Quarterfinals matchup: No. 8 Oklahoma Statepredicted (Thursday, 2:30 p.m. ET)

    Prediction: Wins Big 12 tournament

    The Kansas Jayhawks have not lost a game since Jan. 11.

    However, they have been tested on the road recently, with narrow victories over Baylor (64-61), Kansas State (62-58) and Texas Tech (66-62).

    With Naismith Award finalists Devon Dotson (18.1 PPG, 4.0 APG) and Udoka Azubuike (13.7 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 2.6 BPG) leading the way, Kansas has cruised to a 28-3 record on the year, with its only losses coming against Duke (then No. 4), Villanova (then No. 18) and Baylor (then No. 4).

    Potential second opponent Texas Tech played them tough twice this year, with the Jayhawks' two wins coming by a combined seven points, so don't expect a blowout.

    But at the end of the day, Kansas is simply in a tier of its own.

    Picking anyone else to win the Big 12 tournament would be contrarian for the sake of being contrarian.

         

    All stats courtesy of Sports Reference, unless otherwise noted.