Big 12 Tournament 2021: Semifinals Schedule, Live Stream, Bracket PredictionsMarch 12, 2021
Big 12 Tournament 2021: Semifinals Schedule, Live Stream, Bracket Predictions
There are five Big 12 teams ranked in the top 13 spots in the AP Top 25 poll. However, there were only four spots available in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament.
West Virginia missed out on a semifinal place after losing to Oklahoma State 72-69 in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Now, the No. 5-seeded Cowboys will advance to face No. 1-seeded Baylor in the semifinals.
Friday's other semifinal matchup will feature No. 2-seeded Kansas and No. 3-seeded Texas.
One of these four remaining teams will end up celebrating as Big 12 tournament champions at T-Mobile Center in Kansas City on Saturday. And there's a chance it could be a first-time winner, as neither Baylor nor Texas has previously won the conference tourney.
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Now, here's a look at Friday's Big 12 tournament semifinals schedule, followed by predictions for both games.
Friday, March 12
No. 1 Baylor vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
No. 2 Kansas vs. No. 3 Texas, 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Games can be streamed live on the ESPN app.
Baylor over Oklahoma State
Baylor has lost only one game this season, and it won the Big 12 regular-season championship for the first time in program history by going 13-1 in conference play. The Bears returned to action in Thursday's quarterfinals, holding on for a 74-68 win over Kansas State.
Now, Baylor will face a greater test in Oklahoma State, which reached this point by beating West Virginia for the second time in six days. However, the Cowboys lost to the Bears twice during the regular season.
Baylor beat Oklahoma State 81-66 on the road on Jan. 23, 81-70 at home on March 4.
If the Bears are going to notch a third victory over the Cowboys, they'll likely need to find a way to stop freshman guard Cade Cunningham. In Oklahoma State's quarterfinal win, Cunningham had 17 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, and he's leading the Big 12 with 19.7 points per game this season.
But Baylor has the offensive power to outmatch Cunningham and Oklahoma State, as the Bears rank first in the Big 12 in points per game (84.8), field-goal percentage (49.9) and three-point percentage (42.8). They shot 53.1 percent from the field and went 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) from long range in their quarterfinal win. Still, Kansas State gave Baylor a close game.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy. It's hard to beat a team three times," Bears junior guard Davion Mitchell said.
That's the same reason Baylor could have another close game against Oklahoma State on Friday. But the Bears should hold on for a victory and advance into Saturday's championship game.
Baylor is a stronger all-around team and is capable of halting Oklahoma State's recent momentum. The Bears will get hot from behind the arc in the second half, and that will help them build a big enough advantage to hold off a late push from the Cowboys.
Prediction: Baylor 78, Oklahoma State 73
Kansas over Texas
Kansas coach Bill Self has his team two wins away from a Big 12 tournament championship. And this is nothing new for the Jayhawks and their coach. Since the first conference tourney in 1997, Kansas has won the title 11 times, including eight since Self took over in the 2003-04 season.
During the regular season, Kansas had some struggles. It had a stretch in which it lost five of seven games from late January to early February. Since then, the Jayhawks have been on a roll, winning seven of their final eight regular-season games and beating Oklahoma 69-62 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday.
Kansas' one loss over its past nine games, though? That was a 75-72 overtime defeat at Texas on Feb. 23. The Jayhawks beat the Longhorns earlier in the season (an 84-59 home victory on Jan. 2), so Friday's meeting between the two teams will be the rubber match.
Texas' win over Kansas started a stretch of four wins in five games to end the regular season. The Longhorns carried that momentum into the conference tournament, as they edged Texas Tech 67-66 in Thursday's quarterfinals. Senior guard Matt Coleman lifted Texas with a pair of free throws with 1.8 seconds remaining.
Friday's semifinal matchup should be a competitive contest, and it could come down to the final possessions.
Kansas is without one of its top players, though, as junior forward David McCormack is out for the tournament due to COVID-19 protocols. In the quarterfinals, the Jayhawks overcame that. Will they be able to do so again?
"We all know we don’t have our David, throwing the ball in the post, but we just kept aggressive on the outside, kept shooting and kept being confident about it," Kansas junior guard Ochai Agbaji said.
That formula will lead to more success for the Jayhawks on Friday, and they'll also rely on their strong defense to shut down the Longhorns. Don't be surprised if these teams end up needing overtime again, but in the end, Kansas will pull through to advance to the championship game.
Prediction: Kansas 71, Texas 70