So apparently our staff has a hangover after the last game, because response for today was pretty slow. But the championship game is here, and either way we'll get a bit of rest before the next one.
J. Michael Winmore: This is the matchup I hoped we'd see in the final game. The two most passionate fan bases in the conference packing and rocking the Sprint Center. Iowa State is living dangerously with now four straight come from behind victories. Thursday night was more about Texas being Texas than Iowa State looking great. Friday night Spangler forgot to wipe the sweat off his hand or something. Iowa State is lucky to be here. But luck is as much a part of March as anything in basketball and credit Hoiberg and his kids for never quitting. On the other side, Bill Self is working freaking miracles with a wounded and inexperienced crew. These last four games Bill's coaching has been unreal. His kids, your kids, their kids, five kids playing ball down a the rec center, I'm beginning to feel that Bill could take anybody and make a game of it. The win over Baylor was pure Bill Self basketball. His 'Hawks' defense was locked down tight. Oubre was the hero Thursday, Seldon Friday, it will surely be someone else tonight. They've needed every minute of that heart, because indicative of just how poorly the 'Hawks have been shooting from behind the arc is the fact that going 3-12 against Baylor felt like a good night from three range. That's pretty gross, and with the Cyclones ability to come back coupled with the 'Hawks' inability to maintain a lead will make this close. I just think Bill's team is playing with a lot of heart right now. After the Baylor game Kelly Oubre said, "We want to win this tournament to remind everyone who the king of the Big 12 is." Nobody forgot. He's the man with the smooth Okie drawl and the rascal's smile. His name is King William, and he's about to cut down his 7th Big 12 Tournament net in 9 seasons. Kansas 75, Iowa State 69.
cstonehoops: Kansas is starting to play some defense that while maybe not pleasing most is certainly making Bill Self happy. The Jayhawks are now ranked in the top 10 in adjusted defensive efficiency after holding a good Baylor offense to just 0.75 points per possession. Iowa State, meanwhile, advanced after Oklahoma's Ryan Spangler failed to convert on a layup at the end of regulation. The Cyclone faithful are out in force in Kansas City, which should make the Sprint Center the site of the wildest conference tournament atmosphere in the country. I like Kansas to stifle the Cyclones' offensive attack and come away with the Big 12 title. Kansas 79, Iowa State 71.
penhawk: This team is exhausting. It'll maybe be a close game? But then Kansas will go 5 minutes without a bucket? And Iowa State will score just a few too many points, and Kansas won't quite be able to come all the way back? Sure, that sounds plausible. Iowa State 72, Kansas 70
Tom Fehr: This is a tough one. Iowa State almost assuredly will have a crowd advantage based on the other games, and I never thought I would see that in KC. The matchup is still tough, KU still doesn't have Cliff back, and Perry is banged up. That said, I still think that KU is the better team. Iowa State should not be able to handle Perry inside, and if Wayne plays half as well as he did last game, KU should be good. The worst thing in the world would be if KU wears the butt stripe uniforms, this ends up being an all-time classic, and we look back 20 years from now and have to see the butt stripes. I expect (and am hoping for) a great game though, so I will say Kansas 74, Iowa State 72.
mikeville: I'm interested to see the fan differential inside the Sprint Center this evening. Will ISU have any kind of advantage there? I'm guessing their fans will be more loud and obnoxious than ours. But that's OK, because our fans will be more entitled and stuck-up, amirite? I know our guys will play hard and I hope their shots will fall, because ISU will definitely want this game so they can call themselves "Big 12 Champs" a la Missouruh in 2012. (That still pisses me off.) I assume Perry Ellis will play, even though I don't think he probably should. So a shorthanded KU squad against an ISU team that wants to call themselves conference champs? As much as I want a win, I won't be surprised - or bothered - if we lose. Iowa State 70, Kansas 68.
fizzle406: I think ISU comes out on top. Hawkeyes 72, Kansas 66.