Previewing the Big 12's tournament representatives and the paths that await them

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

A look at our fellow Big 12 members in the NCAA tournament, and the road they face

Today we finish our look at the Big 12's tournament participants, and the paths they face in their regions. Like yesterday, we'll go in the order in which the games are played

9) Oklahoma State (21-12, 8-10)A look at our fellow Big 12 members in the NCAA tournament, and the road they face

First Game: 8) Gonzaga (28-6, 15-3)

Offense Poss/40 PPP FG% 3P% eFG% oReb% TO%
OSU 70.9 1.13 46.5% 36.8% 52.8% 27.7% 14.7%
Zaga 68.8 1.15 49.8% 39.4% 56.2% 30.7% 16.9%
Defense PPP FG% 3P% eFG% dReb% Steal% Block% TO%
OSU 0.97 43.9% 35.8% 50.2% 67.8% 10.7% 8.3% 14.6%
Zaga 0.97 48.4% 37.8% 54.3% 70.4% 10.0% 7.2% 18.0%
KP Off KP Def KP rank Sagarin RPI Line
OSU 24 29 22 16 45 -2
Zaga 50 13 20 21 22

Matchup Preview: The metrics think this is a game between two underseeded teams. I tend to agree where Oklahoma State is concerned, but we've seen this out of Gonzaga before. Both teams are respectable on both ends of the court, and neither stands out as significantly better than the other. Oklahoma State has more talented players, so the question here will be whether they have the more talented team. Gonzaga rebounds well, which could be an issue for Oklahoma State and their lack of frontcourt depth.

Neither team does anything astonishingly well, but neither has a weakness that really jumps off the page, either

1st game prediction: Oklahoma State (-2.0). If I were gambling, I wouldn't go anywhere near this game. I think the teams with the best players generally (generally) rise to the top in the tournament, and OSU has the advantage there. Still, Gonzaga plays quality basketball, and they're unlikely to get blown out by a team that has been as uninspiring as OSU has this year. As long as Marcus Smart doesn't decide to use the stage as an opportunity to show off his three point shooting, I think Oklahoma State wins by a small margin.

The rest of the way: Even if the 'Pokes win, their journey likely ends Sunday, when they would face Arizona. Oklahoma State pulling off that upset seems to be a trendy pick, but I don't buy it at all. Short of Forte and Brown raining threes, Oklahoma State shouldn't sniff the Sweet 16. If they do, a Bedlam rematch with Oklahoma could await, provided the Sooners can get past San Diego State.

9) Kansas State (20-12, 10-8)

First Game: 8) Kentucky (24-10, 12-6)

Offense Poss/40 PPP FG% 3P% eFG% oReb% TO%
K-State 66.5 1.05 43.6% 33.4% 49.0% 35.0% 18.5%
Kentucky 67.5 1.12 45.1% 32.5% 49.7% 42.2% 18.1%
Defense PPP FG% 3P% eFG% dReb% Steal% Block% TO%
K-State 0.99 44.8% 36.1% 50.4% 67.0% 9.3% 5.5% 18.6%
Kentucky 0.99 43.9% 33.6% 48.6% 70.1% 7.1% 10.8% 17.7%
KP Off KP Def KP rank Sagarin RPI Line
K-State 104 25 44 39 51 -5
Kentucky 19 34 17 18 16

Matchup Preview: This has mismatch written all over it. The above numbers aren't adjusted for SOS, but contrary to what you might think, Kentucky's SOS is stronger than K-State's. Kentucky will have better athletes on the floor, and they're better than KSU at most parts of the game. K-State's hopes will lie with their defense, which is good enough to hassle a young Kentucky team, and could potentially throw them off their game.

The rating systems pretty much agree that K-State belongs on this line, but Kentucky doesn't.

1st game prediction: Kentucky (-5.0). If I put money on games, I'd jump on this line. K-State's defense likely helps avoid a blowout, but Kentucky would have to phone it in for this to be a one- or two-possesion game at the end. As long as Kentucky shows up ready to play, Kansas State doesn't have the horses to have a realistic shot Friday.

The rest of the way: If K-State does knock off UK, an intriguing matchup with Wichita State awaits. In terms of athleticism and size, WSU is actually a better matchup for KSU, but the Wildcats' bunch of promising freshmen and upperclassman role players likely wouldn't stand much of a chance against a 1 seed that hasn't experienced defeat yet this year. If K-State somehow managed two consecutive upsets, they'd be faced with defending National Champions Louisville. The Tournament Committee did K-State no favors this year.

3) Iowa State (26-7, 11-7)

First Game: 14) North Carolina Central (28-5, 15-1)

Offense Poss/40 PPP FG% 3P% eFG% oReb% TO%
Iowa State 73.2 1.13 47.1% 35.1% 53.8% 28.1% 14.4%
NCC 65.8 1.12 46.2% 33.8% 51.3% 36.7% 17.6%
Defense PPP FG% 3P% eFG% dReb% Steal% Block% TO%
Iowa State 1.01 45.9% 34.0% 52.1% 71.7% 8.2% 4.6% 14.9%
NCC 0.89 46.3% 36.1% 51.5% 67.8% 11.9% 7.9% 16.6%
KP Off KP Def KP rank Sagarin RPI Line
Iowa State 15 54 23 12 8 -8.5
NCC 117 63 78 86 102

Matchup Preview: NC Central doesn't have a great profile, they don't have name recognition, they don't have any future pros, but they seem to have something. Some computer models out there have them as one of the likelier upset candidates amongst 1-3 seeds, and the 8.5 point betting line is much lower than you would think for a low major facing an Iowa State team that just torched everything in their wake in the Big 12 Tournament. NCC can't shoot, they turn it over more than they turn their opponents over, and they're ranked in the bottom quartile of the Top 100 nationally.

So perhaps this has more to do with Iowa State. Iowa State does try more threes than all but 9 other teams in the country, and if they aren't falling against NCC's respectable defense, Iowa State could be in some trouble. Pair that with Iowa States struggles away from Hilton Coliseum (and the Spring Center, apparently), and there could be some upset potential here.

1st game prediction: Iowa State (-8.5). I'm sure Vegas sees something here that I don't, because this is the closest line of any first round game featuring teams seeded 1-4, but I'm not buying it. 8.5 is a lot of points to give anyone in the NCAA Tournament, but I think Iowa State wins this one by 10 or so. NCC would likely need to shoot the three to keep pace with ISU, and that simply isn't something they do very well.

The rest of the way: Sunday should hold a matchup between ISU and either Providence or North Carolina. North Carolina is a hard team to figure, but Roy's fastest-paced team in the ACC is still slower than Iowa State, and UNC's style likely plays right into ISU's hands. A Sweet 16 matchup probably pits them against Villanova or UConn, while their likeliest Elite 8 opponents are Virginia and Michigan State.

Questions? Comments? Email me at PenHawkRCT@gmail.com, or follow me on Twitter @kspen124

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