Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Big 12 Tourney

With the Jayhawks off for a few more days, this seems like a good time to start taking a look at the conference tournament and how it might play out. It is important to keep in mind though, that the only team this really has any bearing on is Texas A&M as anything short of a four day run to the title will not be good enough for the rest. Aside from that, it's just seeding.

Round One – Thursday

G1. 8. Tech v. 9. OSU: Thursday kicks off with what is presumably the best first round game and for a chance to play Texas. With the way things have been going, I'm inclined to say OSU will take this one, as Pat Knight's team seems completely unable to play outside of Lubbock. But then again, Sean Sutton is involved and even though his team far outplayed Texas the other day, they lost because they decided to jack up 28 three's, making a paltry 6. The pick: OSU

G2. 5. Baylor v. 12. Colorado: Ok, so maybe this game matters also. Baylor is firmly in the tourney right now, probably around the 9 line, but with the early upsets this week, they can ill-afford a bad loss to lowly Colorado. And since they won by 11 in Boulder, I'll go out on a limb and say they'll be fine Thursday as well, setting up another game with OU. The pick: Baylor

G3. 7. Nebraska v. 10. Methzou: Nebraska really is a mystery. Not that they were ever mistaken to be good (by this blog), but if they had not completely soiled themselves a couple of times (@CU, BU, MO) and if Aleks Maric could have caught that ball at Texas, they would at the very least be bubble worthy. As it stands, they get to play a meaningless game against Methzou for the right to play Kansas on Friday. This is a tough pick as both teams won on the other's court. The pick: Methzou

G4. 6. Texas A&M v. 11 ISU: Now this is a MUST-WIN for A&M. All the prognosticators out there have A&M in (comfortably) and though I think they're plenty good enough, 8-8 in the Big 12 doesn't scream lock to me. And I don't see any possible way they get in if they lose to ISU in this one. If they were my team, I'd be all over them to beat KSU the next day as well. The pick: A&M

Round 2 – Friday

G5. 1. Texas v. OSU/Tech winner: In Texas' last 3 they lost to Tech and struggled mightily at home against OSU and Nebraska, but I just can't see them losing this game. Then again, assuming OSU wins, they're playing with some confidence and if it comes down to end, Eaton can be dangerous (all of a sudden). The pick: Texas

G6. 4. Oklahoma v. BU/CU winner: I don't even know why, but I like Baylor here. Oklahoma (and it's trainers) have impressed me all year long, but they absolutely stole 2 games (@ Tech, BU) and I have a hunch Baylor wants this one a bit more. The pick: Baylor

G7. 2. Kansas v. NU/MU winner: Hopefully this 5 day break won't slow the momentum the Jayhawks have had recently, and even if it does, they should be fine. I suppose rivalry games are always tough, but KU has played poorly twice against them this year and come out victorious in both. The pick: Kansas

G8. 3. KSU v. A&M/ISU winner: Since I mentioned above how much of a must Thursday is for A&M, we'll go ahead and assume they take care of business. If so, it could set up a great game Friday night as they'll be looking for some revenge as they were humiliated in Manhattan and, in my opinion, need the win. KSU, on the other hand, has Michael Beasley and his four cell phones and he and Walker just seem like awful matchups for A&M, but what the hell. The pick: A&M

Semi-Finals – Saturday

G9. Winners from G5 and G6: Since I went with Texas and Baylor, that's what we'll use here. I again have a weird feeling that Baylor is going to be tough here. Texas seems to be playing a bit tired lately and after a (possibly) tough game with OSU, I think Baylor may come out and dominate the first half. But can they hold the lead? The pick: Baylor

G10. Winners from G7 and G8: Again, I went with KU and A&M, so we'll do the same here. As we saw Saturday in College Station, the Hawks are clearly the better team here and this time the crowd will be in their favor. I'm not sure they'll outscore them 44-12 in the paint again, but I also doubt they'll go 2-11 from three either. The pick: Kansas

Championship – Sunday

You've probably taken the liberty of assuming that I've gone with a Baylor/Kansas match-up, but here's the confirmation. These teams played once this year, with Kansas winning 100-90 in Allen Fieldhouse, without ever hitting a three. Strange game. But since no team has ever won 4 in a row and Kansas is playing uber-confident lately, I'll say the Hawks make it three in a row. I know you're shocked. The pick: Kansas

You don't want to base too much on three games (2 of them home), but after watching Kansas over the last 2 weeks, I just don't see them losing this weekend. And more than ever, I hope they don't. I always watch with the same intensity, but I typically could care less what happens in the Big 12 tournament, because rest is always an issue. This year is the exception as I don't want anything damaging the swagger they have right now. For the first 20 games, they played with this swagger and looked basically unbeatable. For whatever reason, the loss in the Rotten Apple knocked them down a couple of pegs for a while. But even then, since their only loss for the next few weeks was to a good Texas team in Austin, nothing was done until they lost a lifeless game in Stillwater. Since then, they have looked focused, pissed off and confident. Needless to say, I don't want that to change.

While we're here, we may as well predict where each of these teams is going to end up.

Kansas - #1 seed
Texas - #2 seed
KSU - #8 seed
Oklahoma - # 9 seed
Baylor - #7 seed
Texas A&M - # 9 seed

Tech – NIT
Nebraska - CBI
Methzou – CBI

ISU – Ames
Colorado - Boulder

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