The surprise in the Big 12 this season wasn’t that Kansas claimed its 13th straight conference title — tying UCLA’s record. It was how early the Jayhawks clinched it.
The Big 12 proved once again to be arguably the toughest league in college basketball. Baylor had a veteran squad anchored by junior forward Johnathan Motley, West Virginia’s press had proven as dangerous as ever, and Iowa State had guard Monte Morris back to run the offense.
None of it mattered. Kansas clinched the conference on Feb. 22 by a comfortable three-game lead.
Led by Naismith Player of the Year candidate guard Frank Mason III, KU broke from its traditional high-low system and rolled with a four-guard lineup throughout league play, pushing the Jayhawks past both suffocating defenses and otherwise insurmountable deficits.
Yet as much as Kansas has dominated during the regular season, that success hasn’t always carried over to the conference tournament, which runs from March 8-11 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City.
The Big 12 Tournament has crowned three different champions since 2012 — Missouri, Iowa State, and Kansas — and while the Jayhawks are surely the safe pick again this year, they are hardly a lock.
A strong tournament — plus a little outside help — could push Baylor back into the conversation for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, while West Virginia would love another shot at Kansas after choking in Lawrence. And there are more than a few teams capable of playing spoiler in Kansas City.
Texas Tech under new head coach Chris Beard is improving rather rapidly (wins over Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas State, and Texas), and the same can be said for Oklahoma State under Brad Underwood. And Bruce Weber at Kansas State is fighting for his job with a roster more than capable of saving it.
The Jayhawks will enter the tournament as the No. 1 seed, with WVU as the No. 2.
The Big 12 tournament is single elimination, featuring all 10 conference teams. The top two seeds receive a first-round bye and face the winners of the No. 7/No. 10 and No. 8/No. 9 matchups. From it’s just three wins to win the title.
- West Virginia
- Iowa State
- Oklahoma State
- Kansas State
- Texas Tech
See a full tournament bracket here.
Schedule and Results (all times Eastern)
Wednesday, March 8 (first round)
Game 1: No. 8 TCU 82, No 9 Oklahoma 63
Game 2: No 10 Texas 61, No 7 Texas Tech 52
Thursday, March 9 (quarterfinals)
Game 3: No. 4 Iowa State vs. No. 5 Oklahoma State, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 4: No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 TCU, 2:30 p.m. ESPN2
Game 5: No. 2 West Virginia vs. No 10 Texas, 7 p.m., ESPNU
Game 6: No. 3 Baylor vs No. 6 Kansas State, 9 p.m., ESPNU
Friday, March 10 (semifinals)
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7 p.m., ESPN2
Game 8: Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner, 9 p.m., ESPN2
Saturday, March 11 (championship)
Game 9: Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner, 6 p.m., ESPN