Where: Sprint Center in, Kansas City, Missouri.
When: March 8-11.
Championship Game: March 11 — 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN.
2016 Champion: Kansas.
The Big 12 and the 10 teams within it will begin battling for their conference Wednesday night in Kansas City.
As you can expect, defending tournament champion and 13-time defending regular season champion Kansas is expected to take home the crown. It won’t be a cakewalk, though. As Baylor, West Virginia and Iowa State all have the confidence that they can take down the Jayhawks. Even if their wins against Kansas are few and far between.
That said, when you’re on a neutral floor, anything can happen. That neutral floor is the Sprint Center, and it’ll be rocking all week with Big 12 action. Two games get things going on Wednesday night before our Championship Saturday. So let’s take a look at the favorite, the contenders, and the pretenders for the Big 12 tournament.
The Favorite — Kansas
Do I really need to justify it? A trip to the tournament championship game will most likely lock them into the top overall seed even if they drop the title game. If they lose in their first matchup against the winner of TCU/Oklahoma, they will still most likely end up as a No. 1 seed. Even if it’s the fourth overall one.
Simply put, it’s the Jayhawks tournament to lose.
Contenders — Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, Oklahoma State
For what it’s worth, these four are in no real danger of missing the big dance.
Baylor and West Virginia will both be top-four seeds, so a potential matchup in the semis on Friday night could very well decide who ends up as the higher seed. Iowa State can play their way into a four-seed with a nice run, while their first-round opponent—Oklahoma State—is hovering around the seven-seed range right now. That game between the Cyclones and the Cowboys should provide viewers with a great matchup of two of the nation’s best guards: Monte Morris and Jawun Evans.
Pretenders — Kansas State, Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, Texas
Its strange how much can change in just one year.
This time last March, Oklahoma was preparing to make a run at the national title. Now, their final game of the season will be on Wednesday night against TCU—unless, they can pull out a victory. Out of this group of pretenders, only Kansas State has a shot to make the NCAA tournament as an at-large. A win over Baylor could push them into the field, while a loss would most likely send them to the NIT.
The other four, including the aforementioned Sooners, all need to run the table to have a happy day on Selection Sunday. Jamie Dixon has something brewing at TCU, but they still seem at least a year away. Texas Tech is…well, Texas Tech. As for Texas, they have to start doing some soul-searching after a dreadful year—(10-21)—their worst since going 16-18 during the 2012-2013 campaign.
Can we safely assume Kansas will be the No. 1 overall seed?
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