Big 12 Tournament 2019
Big 12 basketball is in an unfamiliar state heading into its conference tournament, as Kansas is not favored to come out on top in Kansas City, Missouri.
Regular-season co-champions Kansas State and Texas Tech are the favorites to take the title Saturday night at Sprint Center.
Of course, Bill Self’s Jayhawks will try to have a say in which program leaves with the conference-tournament crown, but they aren’t the only underdogs looking to make a splash over the next few days.
Starting with TCU in the tournament opener Wednesday, there are a few Big 12 teams who will be playing with the extra motivation of securing their spots in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament by the time they leave Kansas City.
Opening odds to win the Big 12 Conference Tournament:
Texas Tech +140
Kansas State +350
Iowa State +600
West Virginia/Oklahoma State +10000
All Times ET.
Wednesday, March 13
No. 8 TCU vs. No. 9 Oklahoma State (7 p.m., ESPNU)
No. 7 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 West Virginia (9 p.m., ESPNU)
Thursday, March 14
No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 5 Iowa State (12:30 p.m., ESPN2)
No. 1 Kansas State vs. TCU/Oklahoma State winner (2:30 p.m., ESPN2)
No. 2 Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma/West Virginia winner (7 p.m., ESPN2)
No. 3 Kansas vs. No. 6 Texas (9 p.m., ESPN2)
Friday, March 15
Semifinal No. 1 (7 p.m., ESPN2)
Semifinal No. 2 (9:30 p.m., ESPN2)
Saturday, March 16
Championship (6 p.m., ESPN)
Results Lead to 6 NCAA Tournament Teams From Big 12
It’s safe to assume five teams are locked into the field of 68 from the Big 12, but there could be as many eight programs chosen by the selection committee to participate in the NCAA tournament.
Kansas State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Baylor and Iowa State are all safe and playing to better their respective seeds in the Big Dance.
After that, it gets a bit messy, as there are mixed opinions on Texas, TCU and Oklahoma, who are the three other programs with realistic chances of qualifying for March Madness.
Before they take on much more difficult tasks in the quarterfinals, TCU and Oklahoma have to avoid bad losses in Wednesday’s first round, and given how poorly Oklahoma State and West Virginia have played, the Horned Frogs and Sooners should be able to cruise into Thursday’s set of games.
Both TCU and Oklahoma are in safe spots in the latest bracket projection from CBSSports.com’s Jerry Palm, but ESPN.com’s Joe Lunardi has the Horned Frogs as his third-to-last team into the field of 68.
By winning Wednesday’s openers, the Horned Frogs and Sooners will give themselves the opportunity to earn another quality win over the top two seeds in the tournament.
If TCU knocks off Kansas State, Jamie Dixon’s team should move up in the bracket projections, while a loss would leave it waiting until Selection Sunday to learn its fate.
As for Oklahoma, it is a bit safer than TCU, but given how chaotic the bubble can get during Championship Week, it won’t want to risk losing to Texas Tech for the third time this season.
And then there’s Texas, which has the unenviable task of taking on a motivated Kansas team in the quarterfinals.
According to Lunardi, the Longhorns are one of the last four teams earning byes into the round of 64, while Palm doesn’t have Shaka Smart’s team in his latest projection.
Texas is more likely to knock off an inconsistent Kansas team and earn a spot in the Big 12 semifinals than TCU or Oklahoma is to upset one of the top two teams.
Although the three teams in need of wins will put up strong fights, they won’t be able to produce upsets, and due to the fluidity of the bubble, TCU and Texas fail to qualify for the field of 68, while Oklahoma barely sneaks in.
Kansas Earns Chance to Bring Home Hardware
Kansas is always under a microscope when it reaches the national stage, but it will receive extra attention after failing to extend its 14-year regular-season title streak.
The Jayhawks have been one of the most up-and-down teams in the nation, but they have a chance to turn things around in Kansas City and head into the NCAA tournament with plenty of momentum.
After beating Texas in the quarterfinals, the Jayhawks play tough against a Texas Tech team they split the regular-season series with.
Containing the Red Raiders’ talented collection of scorers, led by Jarrett Culver, is going to be difficult, but Self will draw up a defensive game plan to frustrate Chris Beard’s players.
Dedric Lawson will be one of the keys to success down low for the Jayhawks, as he continues his strong scoring season, but it’ll be the Kansas guards who end up as the X-factors.
Devon Dotson, Ochai Agbaji and Quentin Grimes need to take a step up in their respective games for Kansas to play at a championship level, and with almost a week off to prepare for the trip to Kansas City, they’ll come out with an extra boost.
Dotson and Agbaji achieved success versus Texas Tech in the February 2 win at Allen Fieldhouse in which the duo combined for 30 points.
If Lawson, Dotson and Agbaji are able to score on a consistent basis in the semifinals, the Jayhawks will land a potential third rivalry clash with Kansas State.
In the championship, all of the pressure will be on the top-seeded Wildcats to win, and with Kansas embracing the underdog mentality, it’ll give Bruce Weber’s team one of its toughest tests of the season.