Among the many beautiful things about March Madness is the notion that any team can make it. Every conference gets one automatic bid for the NCAA Tournament. Most automatic bids are awarded to the winner of each respective conference tournament. Each article will preview a different conference tournament with a full bracket breakdown.
8 TCU def. 9 Kansas State
7 Oklahoma def. 10 Iowa State
1 Baylor def. 8 TCU
5 Oklahoma State def. 4 West Virginia
7 Oklahoma def. 2 Kansas
6 Texas Tech def. 3 Texas
1 Baylor def. 5 Oklahoma State
6 Texas Tech def. 7 Oklahoma
1 Baylor def. 6 Texas Tech
Either the Big 12 or the Big Ten is the best conference in basketball. One key difference is that the Big 12 has a clear top dog: Baylor. The Bears have a reasonable claim for best team in the country. Their only loss was at Kansas and they have the second best scoring offense in basketball and the third best effective field goal percentage. Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell were both named to the all-conference team and, with MaCio Teague, are part of a deadly three guard lineup. The one Achilles heel of the Bears is their 66% free throw shooting during conference play, lowest of all Big 12 teams. A locked and loaded number one seed, Baylor is now tasked with fending off hungry competitors looking to boost their own resumes.
The gap between Oklahoma and TCU is not effectively expressed by seeding. By conference record, the Sooners were closer to getting a second seed than an eighth. Beyond the seeding misfortune, the Sooners have hit a rough patch. A four-game losing streak to Kansas State, Texas, and Oklahoma State twice is a bad way to enter arguably the toughest conference tournament. Looking back to January, Oklahoma stunned three straight ranked opponents in Kansas, Texas, and Alabama. Oklahoma is one of the elite teams in effective possession ratio scoring on .976 points per possession. There aren’t many other things where Oklahoma is better than the rest of the Big 12. They are comparable in enough ways that a Wednesday team doesn’t suit this talented group.
Matchup to Watch
Texas vs Texas Tech
It doesn’t get more exciting than a rivalry match in the quarterfinals. Even though the Red Raiders swept the season series, both matchups were highly competitive. The key to this matchup will be possessions that don’t end in points. The Longhorns had the best rebounding margin during conference play, though they were outrebounded in both meetings with Texas Tech. The Red Raiders, on the other hand, have a Top 20 turnover percentage in all of Division I, forcing a turnover about once every seven possessions. Last time these teams met in the Big 12 Tournament was the 2018 quarterfinals Texas Tech won 73-69.
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