Big 12 Tournament 2021: Bracket, Schedule and Championship Preview
Baylor has been the top team in the Big 12 all season. But will that carry over to the conference tournament?
After winning the Big 12 regular-season championship for the first time in program history, the Bears are the the No. 1 seed for the Big 12 tournament and will also be looking to win the tourney title for the first time. The tournament gets underway at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on Wednesday.
Baylor is 21-1 and went 13-1 in Big 12 play during the regular season. But No. 2-seeded Kansas (12-6 in conference play), No. 3-seeded Texas (11-6), No. 4-seeded West Virginia (11-6) and No. 5-seeded Oklahoma State (11-7) have all had strong seasons and will be looking to try to knock off the Bears.
Here's everything else you need to know heading into this year's Big 12 tournament.
Big 12 Tournament Bracket, Schedule
Wednesday, March 10
Game 1: No. 8 TCU vs. No. 9 Kansas State, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Game 2: No. 7 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 Iowa State, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
Thursday, March 11
Game 3: No. 4 West Virginia vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State, 11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 4: No. 1 Baylor vs. Winner of Game 1, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 5: No. 2 Kansas vs. Winner of Game 2, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 6: No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 Texas Tech, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Friday, March 12
Game 7: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Game 8: Winner of Game 5 vs. Winner of Game 6, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN or ESPN2
Saturday, March 13
Game 9: Winner of Game 7 vs. Winner of Game 8, 6 p.m. ET, ESPN
Can Baylor Continue Dominant Season in Tournament Play?
After winning its first 18 games of the season, Baylor suffered its first loss on Feb. 27, falling at Kansas 71-58. However, the Bears bounced back in a big way over the past week, notching victories over West Virginia, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, all of which were ranked opponents, to close out the regular season.
Now, Baylor will look to continue what's been the best season in program history with a Big 12 tournament title. A trio of guards have been a big reason for the Bears reaching this point with only one loss, as junior Jared Butler (17.1 points per game), senior MaCio Teague (14.9) and junior Davion Mitchell (13.6) have been their offensive leaders.
During the regular season, Baylor averaged a Big 12-best 85.3 points per game, with no other conference team averaging more than 77.6. The Bears also led the way in field-goal percentage (49.7), three-point percentage (42.9) and assists per game (17.5), so their offense can be tough to stop.
As long as Baylor keeps playing the way it has and avoids an off night, like it had in its one loss, then there's no reason to think the Bears won't be victorious in the Big 12 tournament for the first time. But there's some strong competition in the conference, so they'll need to keep their momentum going.
Kansas Looks to Add to Trophy Case Yet Again
Kansas has historically had the best men's basketball program in the Big 12. The Jayhawks have won the regular-season conference championship 19 times (no other school has more than three) and they've won the Big 12 tournament 11 times (no other school has won it more than five times).
Although Kansas didn't have its best regular season, going 19-8, it's still the No. 2 seed and could be the biggest threat to Baylor for the tourney title. The Jayhawks are the only team to beat the Bears this season, and they ended the regular season with seven wins in their last eight games (the lone loss being a 75-72 overtime defeat at Texas on Feb. 23).
Kansas has been a strong defensive team, ranking second in the Big 12 with 65 points allowed per game and first in opposing field-goal percentage (39.8), opposing three-point percentage (31.1) and rebounds per game (39.5). So if any team can limit Baylor's offensive production, it could be the Jayhawks.
But among its six conference losses, Kansas lost to Texas, the No. 3 seed, twice. If the Jayhawks want to reach the championship game, they're likely going to have to get past the Longhorns in the semifinals, so that could be a challenging matchup.
Texas, West Virginia Seeking 1st Big 12 Tourney Title
Baylor isn't the only top Big 12 team looking to win the conference tournament for the first time. Texas (the No. 3 seed) and West Virginia (No. 4) have also never won the tourney title and will be looking to change that this week.
After beginning 5-4 in conference play, the Longhorns won six of their last eight games to end the regular season, so they'll be looking to keep playing well heading into the tournament. They've already beaten Kansas twice, so if they can beat them a third time in a potential semifinal matchup, perhaps they'll have an opportunity to try to avenge their Feb. 2 loss to Baylor.
The Mountaineers will be looking to get back on track after losing two of their final three regular-season games, having lost to Baylor and Oklahoma State during that stretch. They ranked second in the Big 12 in points per game (77.6) and three-point percentage (35.9), so if they get hot from behind the arc, they could be tough to beat.
Texas has won the Big 12 regular-season title three times, but West Virginia has never even won that. So both teams will be looking to make some program history while likely trying to pull off a late upset over Baylor and/or Kansas.