Big 12 Tournament (Day 2 and Weekend Analysis)
Talk about an opening day to remember in Kansas City.
A&M looked sloppy and won, while Baylor looked sharp and lost. It’s what you expect when the conference tournaments s
Friday’s games bring more of the same uncertainty. For A&M, there is the chance to fully secure a tournament bid with a win over Kansas State, while Colorado will try and play spoiler again against Oklahoma. These are just two of the many storylines that still exist going into day 2.
Below is how I think Friday will breakdown for all of the teams involved, as well as a preview of what is likely to happen in Saturday’s semi and Sunday’s final.
No. 1 Texas (26-5, 13-3 Big 12) v. No. 9 Oklahoma State (17-14, 7-9), ESPN PLUS, 12:30pm EST – Oklahoma State gets another shot at Texas after falling to the Longhorns in both conference games this season by a combined 8 points. Regardless of the states, I fully expect Texas to take this game seriously since they’re playing for a possible number one seed and put Oklahoma State in their place.
No. 4 Oklahoma (21-10, 9-7) v. No. 12 Colorado (12-19, 3-13), ESPN PLUS, 3:00pm EST – Colorado pulled the upset of the first round, downing the Baylor Bears in a double overtime thriller. Richard Roby had 32 points for the Buffaloes in what was probably his best game of the season. Baylor is now left wondering if what they did in the regular was enough, while Colorado gets a meeting with Oklahoma. Blake Griffin is rested for the Sooners, meaning he should have no trouble leading his team to victory against a squad that should be on wobbly legs after the yesterday’s overtime game.
No. 2 Kansas (28-3, 13-3) v. No. 7 Nebraska (19-11, 7-9), ESPN PLUS, 7:00pm EST – Kansas will be itching to continue their strong play that saw them finish out the season with convincing wins against Texas Tech and Texas A&M. Nebraska should just pray that the Jayhawks are off their game if they hope to have any chance against one of the most complete teams in the country. Kansas should roll in this game.
No. 3 Kansas State (21-10, 10-6) v. No. 6 Texas A&M (23-9, 8-8), ESPN PLUS, 9:20pm EST – Texas A&M looked downright ugly last night against Iowa State in a game that looked a lot closer than the 60-47 final score. Freshman DeAndre Jordan was out with a stomach bug, and most of the Aggie team played like a group that had checked out from reality. They can’t play that way against Big 12 Player of the Year, Michael Beasley. Beasley and Bill Walker make the Aggies pay for their current lax attitude. Regardless of the loss, the Aggies should still make the field of 64.
No. 1 Texas v. No. 4 Oklahoma, ESPN2, 2:00pm EST – In what should be the first of two highly entertaining games on Saturday, Oklahoma and Texas tango again for the third time this season with nothing more than pride on the line. Between these bitter rivals, pride is something that has to be earned, and in all honesty, Oklahoma doesn’t have what it takes to take down the Longhorns. Even with Blake Griffin leading the way, the Sooners just don’t have the punch to get past a far superior opponent. Expect Texas to take this one by 5 or more.
No. 2 Kansas v. No. 3 Kansas State, ESPN2, 4:20pm EST – Michael Beasley once proclaimed that Kansas State could beat Kansas anywhere. While the Wildcats couldn’t beat the Jayhawks in Lawerence, they can exact some revenge by taking the rubber match on Saturday. If Kansas learned anything from the last team they played Beasley, then they would know that getting him in foul trouble early is the only way to contain him. With Darnell Jackson and Darrell Arthur both playing some of their best basketball of the season, they should have more than enough to quiet Beasley and the Kansas State faithful.
Sunday’s Championship Game
No. 1 Texas v. No. 2 Kansas, ESPN, 3:00pm EST – Ok, so the chalk 1 versus 2 matchup looks boring on paper, but honestly, I don’t think there are two other teams in the conference you’d rather see in this game than Kansas and Texas. Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson of Kansas against D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams of Texas should be the best match of the game. The pace should be frenetic, and with a number one seed potentially on the line, I expect nothing more than an intense tournament final. Kansas has the depth in this game, and seeing as neither team has an advantage of playing one less game since they both got first round bye’s, you would expect the depth to be enough. However, games like this don’t always end up going to script. D.J. Augustin brings the Longhorns from behind in the closing minutes, before hitting a baseline jumper with 5 seconds left to secure the win. Texas will be your 2008 Big 12 Tournament champions.
Questions left to answer:
Does Baylor get in? The loss to Colorado – the worst seed in the conference – really hurts; however, Baylor’s body of work should still be enough to see them into the field. It might be a sappy reason, but the Bears are one of the feel good stories of the season. You have to have a team like this in the tournament every year.
If Kansas or Texas win the Big 12, will either team get a number one seed? Both teams have played some impressive basketball all season, so I expect one of them to secure a top seed if they do end up winning the Big 12 tournament. However, based on the fact that teams like UCLA, Tennessee, North Carolina and Memphis are still alive in their conference tournament, I think there could be a chance one could get snubbed.
Does A&M have to beat Kansas State to make it into the tournament? It’s going to sound silly, but I still think the Aggies are sitting on the bubble. They are one of the most inconsistent teams in the country (losing by 15+ to Tech and then beating them by 40 at home is ridiculous), and I’m still not sold on their non conference wins. They should still make the tournament even if they lose to Kansas State, but they’d be best off making sure they lose gracefully.