NCAAB: Big 12 Tournament preview
For quite some time, the Big 12 Tournament has been dominated by just two teams — perennial power Kansas and feisty Iowa State.
With Missouri in the SEC since 2012, Iowa State and Kansas are the only current Big 12 programs to win the tournament since 2005. Iowa State is the defending champion and has won four of the last six conference titles.
This year’s tournament appears to be a contest between Kansas and Baylor, but there are a few fringe contenders that could shake things up with a good run.
Odds to win the Big 12 Tournament
|Team||Big 12 Tournament Odds|
Texas Tech Red Raiders
West Virginia Mountaineers
TCU Horned Frogs
Oklahoma State Cowboys
Iowa State Cyclones
Kansas State Wildcats
The favorite: Kansas
Kansas is the favorite to win the tournament at +150. This is not unusual, and after another conference season where the cream rose to the top, Kansas is clearly the most talented team in the Big 12. Devon Dotson is a Wooden Award contender and arguably the best player in the conference.
The biggest difference maker in the conference might be center Udoka Azubuike, though, who is averaging a double-double and has 75% field goal percentage. He also is an effective and intimidating rim-protector who gives Kansas the chance to play opportunistic and aggressive defense at the other four positions.
Kansas is the deserving favorite in this year’s tournament.
The live longshot: TCU
Seventh-seeded TCU is on on the opposite side of the bracket, away from Kansas. The Horned Frogs get the chance to face off against Baylor, which should be an easier game. TCU just defeated Baylor, 75-72, on Feb. 29, and that win demonstrates both to the players and to bettors that the Frogs are capable of winning a rematch.
Head coach Jamie Dixon is battle tested and senior guard Desmond Bane is averaging 43.4% from three-point range. TCU likely doesn’t have enough to overcome a loaded Kansas roster, but if it can get past Baylor in the second round, 30-1 is a tremendous value.
Player to watch: Jared Butler
If there’s one player to keep any eye on during this year’s tournament, it’s Baylor guard Jared Butler. Butler is the engine for the Bears and is third in the conference in points per game (15.8). He’s also ranks in the top 10 in assists and steals.
Butler is the cerebral leader of a team that has shown it can trade heavyweight punches with favored Kansas, and if Baylor makes a run, it will be driven by Butler’s excellent play.