Big 12 Tournament: What They're Playing For

The 2009 version of the Big 12 Tournament, just like every other year, means more to some than others. There are all different kinds of goals and, more importantly, hopes residing in Oklahoma City tonight. Some know that is is their last chance to make the Big Dance. Others already have clinched a trip, and the games are only for seeding purposes. Still others know that a couple of wins could get them in the Tournament, but they aren't quite safe yet. No matter the case, the pressure is on. All 12 teams have been playing much better of late, unless your name is the Baylor Bears, and there are a couple of teams that could, reasonably, sneak off with the Title.

So, while we'll be doing Game Previews as well in separate posts, one-a-day, I figured we might as well get a starting point for every team. What they need, heading in, what their goals should be, all of that stuff. So, here we go. It should be a fun 4 days in Oklahoma City.

Playing for Just Seeding, Thanks

Really, there are three teams that are completely and utterly safe heading into the Big 12 Tournament. This isn't a surprise. Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri. All three are going to be Top 5 seeds, too, no matter what happens in OKC. But, plenty of seeding differences could transpire. Each team's case is different, obviously, but all three are rather similar. In their little season-ending Round Robin everyone loved to talk about so much, Oklahoma went 0-2, Kansas 2-0 and Missouri 1-1. And yet, Boomer Sooner is the #1 seed candidate. So, let's get it going on:

#1 Seed - Kansas Jayhawks

http://profile.ak.facebook.com/object2/1159/50/l7332013687_1534.jpg

Postseason Status: NCAA Lock

Seed Range: 1-4

Basically, the Jayhawks could end up as the final #1 seed, if everything breaks right, but are more likely just playing for a 2. Win it all in OKC, we're looking at a 2-seed. Bow out early, we could drop to the 4-line. Lose on Saturday, and we're likely on the 3-line. Fairly straightforward, really. Of course, get upset by Nebraska or Baylor early Thursday, and this is an entirely different scenario.

Prediction: Big 12 Tournament Champions! (4 Years in a Row...) -- 2 Seed

Rest of the preview after the jump...

 

 

#2 Seed - Oklahoma Soonershttp://www.blipsy.com/graphics/layouts/Oklahoma_sooners_thumb.jpg

Postseason Status: NCAA Lock

Seed Range: 1-3

If the season ended today, Boomer Sooner would wind up with the last #1 seed. But, it doesn't end today, and a loss in OKC this weekend almost assuredly knocks them out of any consideration, however, assuming they can get to Saturday, they are guaranteed to be a 2-seed. Friday night, maybe a 2, maybe a 3. Get upset in Bedlam Round 3 on Thursday night, and they could slide down to a 4. I don't think it'll happen, though.

Prediction: Lose in Finals to Kansas -- 2 Seed

#3 Seed - Missouri Tigers

http://www.chriscreamer.com/images/logos/32/757/full/2544.gif

Postseason Status: NCAA Lock

Seed Range: 3-6

This is a really important week for Missouri. The perception, right or wrong, is that they can't win away from the Paige. And while they aren't road games, a big win over Oklahoma and/or Kansas would go a long way in dispelling that perception. As long as they don't lose to ATM, they should be guaranteed a Top 4 seed, but if the Committee obsesses about the lack of quality wins away from Paige, who knows.

Prediction: Loss in Semifinals to Oklahoma -- 4 Seed

Win One and You're In

These next three teams just need to win their First Round game, all against inferior competition, to essentially clinch an NCAA berth. That's all it should take. Just one, simple W against a team they should beat. Any extended runs, and the seed could take a nosedive (in a good way, of course), but the primary focus should be to just get to Thursday. If Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma State are playing on Thursday, they should be A-OK.

#5 Seed - Texas Longhorns

http://nwanews.com/blogs/slophouse/files/2008/02/texas-longhorns-logo.gif

Postseason Status: "Should Be In"

Seed Range: 6-9 (but, really, who knows?)

Boy oh boy, are the Longhorns an odd team. They have some awesome W's, beating UCLA and Villanova and Wisconsin (in Madison) in the non-conference, while also completely laying some eggs (@ Arkansas, @ Nebraska, vs. Notre Dame). They played awesome in their most recent game, in Allen Field House, so maybe they are rediscovering their early-season spark? Who knows. All I've gotta say is Dexter Pittman is awesome. Count me in as a huge believer. Just don't screw it up against the Buffs, and they're golden as far as actually getting in. And, most likely, they avoid the always hated 8/9 game. A loss to K-State in the Quarters on Thursday, though, could send them falling.

Prediction: Loss in Quarterfinals to K-State -- 8 Seed

#6 Seed - Texas A&M Aggies

http://www.sportslogos.net/images/logos/34/866/full/4659.gif

Postseason Status: "Should Be In"

Seed Range: 9-12

Going into Saturday, they were the definition of a bubble team. One resume-making win later against Missouri, and they are in. Provided, of course, they don't blow it against Mr. Craig Brackins and Iowa State. Make a nice run in Oklahoma City and they could make some noise rifling up the brackets. And, they get Missouri again on Thursday, with another opportunity to make a statement.

Prediction: Loss in Quarterfinals to Missouri -- 10 Seed

#7 Seed - Oklahoma State Cowboys

http://www.onlineticketsusa.com/images/sports/oklahoma-state-logo.gif

Postseason Status: "Should Be In"

Seed Range: 8-11

The Okie State vs. ATM debate would be quite interesting, really, in terms of seeding. They split, and while ATM probably has better top-end victories, Oklahoma State has better computer numbers. In the end, actually, I think they'll end up around the same line, if not exactly the same. Just like ATM, they just have to not be upset by Texas Tech, and they are getting a ticket. A W against Oklahoma, in Bedlam Round 3, would send them shooting up. I love Obi Muonelo; he's without question the most underrated player in this conference. Dude is awesome.

Prediction: Loss to Oklahoma in Quarterfinals -- 10 Seed

Get to Saturday and Start Hoping

These next two teams aren't quite on the same level. Like, at all. But, they belong together more than any other group, so I paired them together. A trip to the Conference Finals would give Kansas State a realistic shot at punching a ticket, although Butler's loss on Tuesday night didn't help matters. While Nebraska probably needs to win the whole shebang, they have a good enough resume to pair together here.

#4 Seed - Kansas State Wildcats

http://www.pacificinvitational.com/images/Kansas_State_Wildcats.gif

Postseason Status: NCAA Bubble

Seed Range: 11-NIT

Going into Stillwater last Tuesday night, the Powercats had an excellent chance to stake a legitimate claim to an NCAA berth. Nevertheless, even with the loss, they still have a shot to sneak in at the very last second. It will assuredly take a trip all of the way to the Championship Game, though, and even that probably wouldn't get it done. It's conceivable, though.

Prediction: Loss in Semifinals to Kansas

#8 Seed - Nebraska Cornhuskers

http://collegefootballbelt.com/Logos/nebraska%20logo.gif

Postseason Status: NIT Bound

Seed Range: 13-NIT

Don't get me wrong, the Nebraska Cornhuskers' basketball program is definitely on the way up. Doc Sadler is the man, and they are going to be scary for awhile. But, this year they just didn't have quite enough firepower to truly compete for an NCAA berth. And, they have the talent to make some noise in the Ford Center. I don't think they will get past Kansas, or anything, but I'd bet it will be just as close as last year's Kansas-Nebraska Big 12 Tournament matchup.

Prediction: Loss in Quarterfinals to Kansas

Four Wins in Four Days

After practices and games and failures, all these four teams have left are the hopes and dreams of the Conference Tournament. Essentially, they're like small, one-bid conference teams. Win the Conference Tournament, and you jump and scream and rush the floor and get a surprise ticket. Lose, at any time, and have fun in the offseason. Now, one of these teams doesn't really fit in with the rest. At one point, Baylor was ranked, considered a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. Even just three weeks ago, after they beat the Aggies in Waco (one of only 2 wins in their last 12 games), they were a Bubble Team. Now, no. Talk about a team completely falling apart. The other three were all in scheduled rebuilding periods. Iowa State, Texas Tech and Colorado. Some have brighter futures than others, but all should see some progress next year. Actually, though, I don't see the Cyclones making any. Without Brackins, they should take a step back, but we'll get back there later.

#9 Seed - Baylor Bears

http://www.sportslogos.net/images/logos/30/613/full/2433.gif

Postseason Status: --

Seed Range:--

With all of the disappointment talk surrounding Notre Dame and Georgetown and Kentucky, Baylor should be right up there. They brought back everybody, save Aaron Bruce, from a team last year that was everyone's favorite underdog, an NCAA Tournament team that figured to take a large step forward this year. But, uh, nuh-uh. Talk about disastrous. Scott Drew, ouch. Just, ouch. He should still be commended for just getting the talent ammassed, but it means nothing if you can't do anything on the field with it. Just ask Tommy Bowden or Ed Orgeron.

Prediction: Loss in First Round to Nebraska

#10 Seed - Iowa State Cyclones

http://media.ksfy.com/images/Iowa_State_Cyclones.gif

Postseason Status: --

Seed Range: --

Eh. Craig Brackins is probably good enough to steal them a game or two, which would cause some mass chaos. However, the rest of the team is too mediocre for that to really happen, most likely, and I feel sorry for Clones fans next year. Without Brackins, who is almost assuredly leaving for the riches of the League, they could really, really struggle. Ouch.

Prediction: Loss in First Round to Oklahoma State

#11 Seed - Texas Tech Red Raiders

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Fk_O9j3r9Cg/SRjnj26DRaI/AAAAAAAAAC4/jM1AZaQaFH4/s320/TexasTechRedRaiders.jpg

Postseason Status: --

Seed Range:--

Don't bring these guys up. I'm still bitter. They aren't nearly the team that beat our ass that one night in Lubbock, but are playing much better of late, and could pull off the upset of the Aggies. I'm actually a believer in Pat Knight, so I think they're on the way up. I know I'm in the minority on that one, though, so we'll leave that debate to the offseason. OK?

Prediction: Loss in First Round to Texas A&M

#12 Seed - Colorado Buffaloes

http://www.sportslogos.net/images/logos/30/647/full/7489.gif

Postseason Status: --

Seed Range:--

Cory Higgins will hopefully dominate tomorrow. Just because people across the country need to know the dude's name. Who the hell knows how he ended up in Boulder, voluntarily, for hoops, but he is awesome. Like, no lie: he's awesome. He could be a real sleeper for Big 12 POY next year, if the Buffs and Bzdilek can get it together enough to slide up the Big 12 charts. Which, isn't that unlikely. Just like Pat Knight, I'm a fan of Bzdilek.

Prediction: Loss in First Round to Texas

***

Really quick, just so we're all on the same page, here are my projected winners in every round.

First Round
Nebraska
Texas
Oklahoma State
Texas A&M

Quarterfinals
Kansas
K-State
Oklahoma
Missouri

Semifinals
Kansas
Oklahoma

Finals
Kansas

No upsets, I understand, but that's how I see it playing out. I wouldn't be terribly surprised if someone like Okie State or K-State had an upset in there (yes, I realize that the Powercats would upset us in that case), but I don't think it happens. I suppose that makes me lame, and I would agree wholeheartedly. But, I'll be a lame winner. Good one, huh?

***

That's all she wrote, folks. Hopefully, that gives you a general-enough sense. Most of that is common sense, but I thought it would be a solid starting point for any further Big 12 Tournament discussion.

Like I said, we'll be doing quickie Game Previews for each of the games. One for the Morning Session, one for the Afternoon Session, each day.

The Afternoon Session will likely be a little later, tomorrow, due to school and things, but I should get it out in times.

I can't wait, baby.

Editor's Note: Like I've said before, we'll have an OGT for each day of the Big 12 Tournament. They will essentially replace the Championship Week OGT's, so you can post any-and-all game stuff into there, as well. For Kansas game days, we'll have a Kansas game OGT, or two depending on what round, and then another one for the rest of the games.

Sound good?

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