Big 12 teams closed out their regular season this past weekend and are now preparing for the conference tournament in Kansas City. The winner of the tournament will be given an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, but five teams are already locks to get in anyways. The team with the most to gain in Kansas City will be Kansas State, as they sit squarely on the bubble less than a week away from Selection Sunday. Now that conference play is in the books, let’s see where these teams stand going into the Big 12 Tournament.
#1: Kansas Jayhawks (28-3 Overall, 16-2 Big 12, AP: #1), Previous: #1
Last Week: Won vs. Oklahoma 73-63, Won @ Oklahoma State 90-85
The Jayhawks continue to stay atop the rankings as they went 2-0 in the final week of Big 12 play by sweeping the teams from the Sooner state. Oklahoma made things interesting in Lawrence, but Kansas eventually figured it out and came away with the win. They then traveled to Stillwater, a place they have struggled in recent years, and beat Oklahoma State in an exciting fast-paced game. Given how the season turned out, it’s no surprise they pulled in some Big 12 awards, winning Coach of the Year (Bill Self), Player of the Year (Frank Mason), and Freshman of the Year (Josh Jackson). They are the #1 seed in the upcoming Big 12 Tournament and will play on Thursday against the winner of TCU/Oklahoma.
#2: West Virginia Mountaineers (24-7, 12-6, AP: #11), Previous: #2
Last Week: Lost @ #11 Baylor 71-62, Won vs. #24 Iowa State 87-76
West Virginia went 1-1 during the final week of the regular season, but with their victory over the Cyclones, they clinched the #2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. They’ll open the tournament on Thursday against the winner of Texas Tech/Texas. It’s no surprise that Press Virginia placed two players, Jevon Carter and Nathan Adrian, on the All-Big 12 Defensive team. Despite allowing 76 points against Iowa State, their defense did a fantastic job of limiting the Cyclones’ star point guard Monte Morris. The Mountaineers are a team that no one will want to face in Kansas City on short rest.
#3: Iowa State Cyclones (20-10, 12-6, AP: #23), Previous: #3
Last Week: Won vs. Oklahoma State 86-83, Lost @ #10 West Virginia 87-76
The Cyclones went 1-1 in the final week, but fell to the #4 seed in the Big 12 Tournament by virtue of their loss in Morgantown. They had been on a good roll coming into the week and had won five straight thanks to the emergence of Solomon Young, but he was scoreless against West Virginia. Now, they’ll have to have a rematch with Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Tournament quarterfinals, which will be a matchup of two of the best point guards in the nation, Monte Morris and Jawun Evans. We’ll see if they can get back on track before the NCAA Tournament.
#4: Baylor Bears (25-6, 12-6, AP: #9), Previous: #4
Last Week: Won vs. #10 West Virginia 71-62, Won @ Texas 75-64
Baylor managed to finish the regular season by going undefeated in the final week, but they have not been as dominant as they were earlier in the year. The win over the Mountaineers was crucial for their NCAA Tournament seeding and helped propel them to the #3 seed in the Big 12 Tournament. They’ll open up Thursday against Kansas State, who beat them in Waco earlier in the year. Also, Bears’ forward Johnathan Motley was one of three unanimous selections to the All-Big 12 First Team.
#5: Oklahoma State Cowboys (20-11, 9-9, AP: RV), Previous: #5
Last Week: Lost @ #24 Iowa State 86-83, Lost vs. #1 Kansas 90-85
Coming into this week, there was no hotter team in the Big 12 than Oklahoma State, but they dropped both games this week against very good teams. Despite the losses, the Cowboys are a lock to make the NCAA Tournament and should be given a somewhat favorable seed due to a good non-conference resume. Their offense has been stellar recently and if their defense can get back to playing like they were, this could be a dangerous team in the Big Dance. Oklahoma State is the #5 seed in the Big 12 Tournament and will open with Iowa State on Thursday.
#6: Kansas State Wildcats (19-12, 8-10), Previous: #7
Last Week: Won @ TCU 75-74, Won vs. Texas Tech 61-48
Kansas State’s hopes of getting into the NCAA Tournament had gotten pretty dim, but with a pair of victories over good teams, they now sit right on the bubble. Fortunately for them, a Big 12 team that is 8-10 should be given high consideration for getting in. Unfortunately, by virtue of moving up to the #6 seed, they now have to open the Big 12 Tournament with #3 seed Baylor. Instead of getting a chance for an extra win over a lower seed to pad the resume, they will now have the tough task of upsetting the Bears. However, the Wildcats will be very confident considering they did just that in Waco earlier this season.
#7: TCU Horned Frogs (17-14, 6-12), Previous: #6
Last Week: Lost vs. Kansas State 75-74, Lost @ Oklahoma 73-68
The Frogs, once projected as a #7 seed in the NCAA Tournament, have continued their skid and have now lost seven straight games. Now, they can’t even be sure of getting into the NIT. In both games this past week, TCU had chances to get ahead late and win, but could not come up with baskets at the right time. Now, they’ll have to face Oklahoma in a rematch on Wednesday in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament. The Frogs will likely need a win to solidify their NIT resume, but even that might not be enough.
#8: Texas Tech Red Raiders (18-13, 6-12), Previous: #8
Last Week: Won vs. Texas 67-57, Lost @ Kansas State 61-48
Like TCU, Texas Tech is also on the NIT bubble and will be looking for a victory in Kansas City to help solidify their resume. The Red Raiders will get to face Texas in the first round, a team they beat this past week. If they manage to win that, they will get a shot at West Virginia in a game that would assure them of a spot in the NIT. Tech is trying to overcome a poor non-conference resume, but it is hard to believe that a team with wins over West Virginia and Baylor would be left out of the NIT. However, we’ll see how they play in Kansas City, as they have struggled outside of Lubbock all season.
#9: Oklahoma Sooners (11-19, 5-13), Previous: #9
Last Week: Lost @ #1 Kansas 73-63, Won vs. TCU 73-68
The Sooners continued their streak of great play with another solid week of performances, including their victory over TCU on Saturday. For a team that had pretty much been written off this season, they have shown that they are not a team that can be counted as an easy win. Even Kansas needed a 2nd half comeback in order to beat Oklahoma in Lawrence. Although they won’t be playing any games after the Big 12 Tournament unless they win it all, they will be a tough out. That’s not good news for TCU, who has to play them first.
#10: Texas Longhorns (10-21, 4-14), Previous: #10
Last Week: Lost @ Texas Tech 67-57, Lost vs. #11 Baylor 75-64
It’s been a disappointing season in Austin for a team that entered the season ranked in the AP Top 25. On paper, this team had so much potential, yet couldn’t put it all together and will now head to Kansas City as the #10 seed. It didn’t help the Longhorns that their top scorer couldn’t keep himself out of trouble and on the court, but with guys like Andrew Jones and Jarrett Allen, more was expected from Texas. It’ll be interesting to see if either of those two decide to forgo the NBA for another year and come back. If so, Texas could find their way back into the NCAA Tournament next season.