The greatest sporting month of the year is about to get into full swing this week, as the Big 12 tournament (and every other major conference) kicks off its men's and women's basketball tournaments. It has returned to its rightful home this year (I'm a bit biased, obviously) in Kansas City, Mo. at Sprint Center. As was the case last year, the tournament has been moved up a day and now runs Wednesday through Saturday.
It was a wild last weekend to the regular season with teams rising and falling as far as seeding for the tournament goes. Missouri could have ended up as high as the number three with a win over Kansas on Saturday, or as low as five with a loss and a Baylor victory. Obviously, it was the latter that played out in reality.
1. Kansas 2. Kansas State 3. Baylor 4. Texas A&M 5. Missouri 6. Texas 7. Oklahoma State 8. Colorado 9. Texas Tech 10. Oklahoma 11. Iowa State 12. Nebraska
The top four teams have a first round bye. First round matchups will be as follows: 8/9, 7/10, 6/11, 5/12.
A quick rundown of each first round game and some potential matchups after the jump...
First Round Matchups
No. 8 Colorado vs. No. 9 Texas Tech
11:30 a.m. CST - Big 12 Network
Season Series - Colorado, 1-0. In Boulder, 101-90.
No. 5 Missouri vs. No. 12 Nebraska
2:00 p.m. CST - Big 12 Network
Season Series - Missouri, 2-0. In Columbia, 70-53. In Lincoln, 74-59.
No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Oklahoma
6:00 p.m. CST - Big 12 Network
Season Series - Tied, 1-1. In Norman, 62-57 in OT, Oklahoma. In Stillwater, 87-76, Oklahoma St.
No. 6 Texas vs. No. 11 Iowa State
8:30 p.m. CST - Big 12 Network
Season Series - Texas, 1-0. In Ames, 90-83
Oklahoma State vs. Kansas State - 6:00 p.m. CST Thursday - Big 12 Network - A potentially great rematch. If you remember, the Cowboys went into the Octagon of Doom just days after Kansas State's upset of then-number one Texas and shocked the Wildcats, 73-69.
Missouri vs. Texas A&M - 2:00 p.m. CST Thursday - Big 12 Network - The Aggies ended Missouri's 32-game homecourt winning streak in early February. Something tells me that the Tigers would like a shot at revenge for that. Not that Kansas wouldn't have ended it a month later, but the point stands. Also, a chance at Kansas in the semifinals? Missouri would be ready to go for that one.
Texas vs. Baylor - 8:30 p.m. CST Thursday - ESPN2 - Baylor got the best of the Longhorns twice this year - 80-77 in OT in Austin and 92-77 in Waco. In a year where Texas really struggled in conference play, Baylor established themselves as the top team in the state of Texas. Could the Longhorns get revenge in a third matchup? Anything can happen, but on no days rest against four days rest, good luck, Texas.
Kansas vs. Texas A&M/Missouri - 6:00 p.m. CST Friday - Big 12 Network - A rematch with Missouri would rock the core of Kansas City. There would be cars on fire and children crying in the streets. The rematch with A&M would likely be the better game, though. The Aggies took the Jayhawks all the way to the end of the game in a battle in College Station, losing 59-54, while Kansas throttled the Tigers twice this year.
Kansas State vs. Baylor - 8:30 CST Friday - Big 12 Network - The Wildcats recovered well from the shocker at home against Oklahoma State when they got a huge road victory over the Bears in late January. That was one of the first big road victories during the "the home team rules in the Big 12" days. A real contrast of styles, as Kansas State prefers to be physical and rough you up, while Baylor would rather run on you and shoot threes.
Kansas vs. Kansas State/Baylor/Texas - 5:00 p.m. CST Saturday - ESPN - While putting personal bias aside, it looks to be Kansas vs. the field this year. They are the superior team to the tune of a four game gap in the regular season standings over second place. Kansas State played them tough in Manhattan, but this would be a pro-Kansas crowd. Texas has to be put in the discussion simply for the fact of the amount of talent they have. If they put it together, they are dangerous and could win the whole thing. Of the three teams, Baylor would be the toughest matchup, personally. The way they shot and the way they played in Allen Fieldhouse say a lot about their team.
First round - Texas Tech, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas
Second round - Kansas, Missouri, Kansas State, Baylor
Semifinals - Kansas, Baylor
Finals - Kansas (what did you expect?)