The Big 12 tournament always delivers, and this year should be no exception.
The hardest part going into it is simply trying to predict who will lift the trophy on Saturday night.
Big 12 tournament basics
Big 12 tournament bracket
At least 60% of the Big 12 is already a NCAA tournament lock
The Big 12 is by far the best conference in college basketball.
The top 60% of the conference is already safely into the NCAA tournament, from Kansas down to Iowa State, despite spending much of the year beating up on each other.
That won’t change regardless of how the conference tournament plays out. Among this group, however, the Cyclones have struggled the most — which means they have the most to gain in Kansas City. If they can get a second straight win over Baylor and into the semifinals, not only will their NCAA seed make a substantial jump, but fans should feel much better about their chances after watching the Cyclones end the regular season having lost six of their last eight.
Kansas earned the top seed, and looks like it will either get Baylor or Iowa State assuming it gets out of the quarterfinals. On the other side, Texas, Kansas State and TCU are essentially evenly matched. The three beat Kansas and Baylor at least once in the regular season too.
The Big 12 is truly anyone’s to win.
On the bubble: Oklahoma State needs a win, or two
Oklahoma State dropped five of its last six games to end the regular season, which put what should have been a solid bid at risk for the Cowboys. They’ll need a win against Oklahoma in the first round, and then at least a competitive showing against Texas on Thursday in order to secure their spot in the tournament.
Texas Tech could still make it in, but it will need a deep run likely into the championship game to pull that off. After losing coach Mark Adams to a suspension Sunday, that task is going to be even more difficult.
West Virginia is probably in the best position of this group. The Mountaineers went just 18-13 on the year, but they have several notable conference wins — including a season-ending one over Kansas State on Saturday. Assuming they don’t get blown out by Texas Tech in the opening round, the Mountaineers have claim to an at-large bid.
Sleeper Pick: Baylor
It’s hard to call Baylor — a top-10 team capable of reaching the Final Four — a “sleeper team.” But with a conference as strong as the Big 12, and the Bears drawing the No. 4 seed, here we are.
The Bears have a legitimate path to the Big 12 title game. They’ll open the tournament against Iowa State ready to avenge their last regular season loss to the Cyclones, which should set up a battle against Kansas. And if they can knock off the Jayhawks — something they did already in January behind a 22-point showing from LJ Cryer — in the semifinals in Missouri, there’s no reason they can’t take home the title for the first time in program history.
Our Pick: Kansas over Kansas State
Not only is this possible with how good Kansas State is this year, but it would be so much fun. A Kansas-Kansas State battle in Kansas City would bring one of the best Big 12 title games in recent memory. And honestly, that's most of the logic behind this pick.
Kansas will take this one to claim its second straight tournament title.