Kansas is no longer the Big 12 regular season champion, something we can say for the first time since 2004. It’s been a remarkable run that has produced exactly one NCAA title and only two Final Fours, which is something that Jayhawks fans really really do not enjoy when you bring it up to them.
But congrats to the Jayhawks for their streak. And congrats to Kansas State and Tech for putting an end to it. In a conference with programs like West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma — you know, programs with actual basketball history — it was the Red Raiders and Wildcats that finally knocked Kansas off its pedestal.
Now it’s Big 12 Tournament time. TCU might be fighting for an NCAA Tournament berth; Texas might be doing the same. Let’s take a look at what happened over the last week of the regular season. We’ll use seeding order for this particular breakdown.
Kansas State (24-7, 14-4 Big 12): Kansas State gets the No. 1 seed, by virtue of sweeping Baylor while Tech split the series against the Bears. The Wildcats closed out their season by beating Oklahoma 68-53.
The bad news is that Dean Wade is “doubtful” for the Big 12 Tournament, per the Kansas City Star on Monday. The senior star for KSU tweaked his oft-injured foot against Oklahoma, and without him, the Wildcats have one less option on offense, allowing teams to focus on Barry Brown, Jr.
The Wildcats will receive a first-round bye and play the winner of TCU and Oklahoma State.
Texas Tech (26-5, 14-4 Big 12): Tech didn’t make it easy, but the co-Big 12 champs beat Iowa State 80-73 in Ames Saturday. Sophomore guard Jarrett Culver dropped 31 in the win, shooting 12-19 from the field.
The Red Raiders will play the winner of Oklahoma and West Virginia in their first game of the conference tourney. With Wade’s injury, Tech might just be the favorites to win the Big 12 Tournament. The only downside? A potential matchup with Kansas looms in the semifinals, while KSU would get either Iowa State or Baylor.
Kansas (23-8, 12-6 Big 12): The Jayhawks’ loss to Oklahoma last Tuesday was shocking. Sure, Kansas was mostly out of the Big 12 regular season title race by then, but you expected the Jayhawks to at least put up a fight. Instead they lost 81-68 to officially become mathematically eliminated. KU rebounded with a 78-70 win over Baylor in its final game.
The Jayhawks also got word that LaGerald Vick, who missed the final eight games, won’t return to Kansas due to “personal reasons.” That won’t help KU against Texas in its first round game on Thursday at 9 p.m.
Baylor (19-12, 10-8 Big 12): Baylor lost to Texas Southern and Stephen F. Austin this year. Did you know that? The Bears also beat Tech, and beat Iowa State in Ames. Good luck figuring that out.
Baylor ended its regular season with a loss to KU, but the Bears are a definite tournament team and will be fighting to improve their seed with a game against Iowa State Thursday at 7 p.m.
Iowa State (20-11, 9-9 Big 12): The skid continued for the Cyclones, losers of their last three in a row and five of their last six. Iowa State inexplicably lost to West Virginia Wednesday, allowing 90 points in regulation to one of the worst teams in the conference, and then fell to Texas Tech. A team that once looked like a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament is now the 5-seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
ISU will make the Big Dance, but a win over Baylor Thursday is essential to earning the Cyclones a decent seed.
Texas (16-15, 8-10 Big 12): Two things are true: the Longhorns outperformed Oklahoma and TCU in conference play, and also there’s really no reason Texas should get an NCAA bid. Assuming they don’t win the Big 12 Tournament, the Longhorns will have 16 losses. No team has ever received an NCAA Tournament bid with 15 or more losses, per Brad Evans of Yahoo!
No team in NCAA Tournament history has earned an at-large with 15 losses. Given the historically weak bubble, it's conceivable two schools rewrite the books.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) February 28, 2019
Texas, currently IN, and Indiana, currently OUT, would have strong arguments due to Quad 1 wins, SOS.
What a world.
But of course, it’ll be Texas that steals one, because the rich just keep on getting richer. (Unless your name is Lori Laughlin and you allegedly spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to get your kid into USC by pretending she rows crew.)
Anyway. The Longhorns lost to TCU Saturday and will play Kansas Thursday. The good news for Texas is that guard Kerwin Roach II, who had been suspended, will be reinstated for the Big 12 Tournament.
Oklahoma (19-12, 7-11 Big 12): The Sooners upset Kansas Tuesday, so their loss against Kansas State doesn’t matter much. That win alone should give Oklahoma the quality win it needed to sneak into the NCAA Tournament. ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has the Sooners as a solid 10-seed.
Oklahoma will play West Virginia at 9 p.m. Wednesday. The Sooners split the season series against the Mountaineers.
TCU (19-12, 7-11 Big 12): TCU is one of the Last Four In, according to Lunardi. Realistically, the Frogs have to beat Oklahoma State Wednesday at 6 p.m., put on a good showing against Kansas State in the next round, and hope like the dickens there aren’t any surprises in the other conference tournaments.
Fingers crossed and Desmond Bane prayer candles lit, everyone.
Oklahoma State (12-19, 5-13 Big 12): You know, for a team that was holding tryouts for walk-ons midway through the season, this wasn’t a total disaster. Unfortunately, that’s a pretty low bar.
The Cowboys play TCU Wednesday. Oklahoma State has already beaten the Frogs once this year. They’d love to do it again.
West Virginia (12-19, 4-14 Big 12): The Mountaineers took one last pelt this season, beating Iowa State in the last week of the season. West Virginia had a truly terrible year, but Bob Huggins has built up enough goodwill to write it off as an anomaly.
WVU has one more chance to ruin someone’s March with a game against Oklahoma Wednesday. The Sooners are one of Lunardi’s “Last Four Byes” — a loss to the Mountaineers could be disastrous for OU’s tourney hopes.