USA TODAY Sports
The Big 12 tournament in Kansas City is providing a great weekend of basketball, NCAA tournament level atmosphere and a great tune up for the Kansas Jayhawks
This is the way it's supposed to be. The Big 12, Kansas City, early March and great basketball. From the opening game between West Virginia and Texas Tech to tonight's Big 12 title matchup between Kansas and Kansas State, this Big 12 tournament is delivering. Kansas City loves basketball. The atmosphere is right, the matchups that this tournament needs and wants are happening and the experience is providing a great tune up for those involved.
The semifinals for Kansas featured a grudge match with an opponent who felt cheated out of a win twice. Iowa State is a very difficult matchup for the Jayhawks and the Cyclones wanted a win badly. You could feel it before the game, you could feel it during the game and the intensity was obvious. Bill Self's officiating tirade might have been calculated, perhaps it wasn't, but it certainly reflected the urgency of the moment and I think it speaks to the intensity of this tournament.
It's easy to say these conference tournaments don't matter. Regular season championships are without question the bigger accomplishment and that is where Kansas has consistently staked their claim as the Big 12's top dog. At the same time this weekend feels a little more important and from a fans perspective I'm always of the opinion that I want as many days on my calendar to feature a Kansas basketball game as possible.
We're getting that this weekend. Kansas will play in the championship game tonight and win or lose they are going to get three games that have provided NCAA tournament type preparation and a great atmosphere in Kansas City. If the Jayhawks win tonight they could well be a no. 1 seed back in this building next weekend. At a minimum it would seem that they will be a no. 2 seed.
These are the experiences that prove invaluable. Sometimes in hindsight it seems that added rest might have been beneficial or that perhaps the Big 12 tournament didn't really do anything to help the cause. But I'm sure if you asked a player they would just assume win and it's hard to imagine that any team that gets on a roll in March didn't draw something from their final weekend in the conference tournament. It's been a great week, we have a great basketball game ahead, the Big 12 and Kansas City have delivered once again and it's good to have Kansas as a big part of that.