WIDE-OPEN BIG 12 TOURNAMENT COULD BE WON BY A NUMBER OF TEAMS

The great thing about the Big 12 this season was that there were several good teams who were capable of playing Sweet 16 caliber basketball. The BAD thing about the Big 12 is that nobody seemed able to play National Championship caliber basketball away from their home floor. And, even home court wasn’t a recipe for dominance.

That sets up what should be a very entertaining conference tournament that begins Wednesday night in Kansas City. It really is a “name out of a hat” scenario in terms of team talent on neutral courts. Perhaps the home site will favor top seeded Kansas. But, they’re dealing with some injuries…and a tendency to play 25 good minutes in every 40-minute game. Tougher to get away with that in a playoff environment.

Of course…this is all a tune-up for the Big Dance. It remains to be seen whether this is truly a Power Conference that’s going to have great representation during the second weekend…or an overrated conference that’s going to fizzle through the first weekend. Here’s how ESPN’s Joe Lunardi has teams pegged for the brackets entering the conference tourney…

BRACKETOLOGY
Kansas is projected to be a #2 seed
Iowa State is projected to be a #3 seed
Oklahoma is projected to be a #3 seed
Baylor is projected to be a #4 seed
West Virginia is projected to be a #5 seed
Oklahoma State is projected to be a #11 seed (just clear of the bubble)
Texas is projected to be a #11 seed (on the bubble as one of the last four in)

Texas would fall to the wrong side of the bubble if they get upset in the first round by Texas Tech. They’re in good shape otherwise, and in GREAT shape if they upset Iowa State in the quarterfinals. Oklahoma State is reported to be safer, and might be able to sweat an opening loss to Oklahoma. Very tough to get a true read on these teams nationally. Nobody would really be shocked if Oklahoma State or Texas made it to the Sweet 16 of the Dance regardless of the seeding. Yet, everyone’s shown enough vulnerability that you wonder if the leaders are more like #4-6 seeds on neutral courts in terms of true talent.

Here’s this week’s schedule in Kansas City…

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Wednesday’s First Round
(#8) Kansas State vs. (#9) TCU
(#7) Texas vs. (#10) Texas Tech

Thursday’s Quarterfinals
(#4) Baylor vs. (#5) West Virginia
(#1) Kansas vs. Kansas State/TCU winner
(#2) Iowa State vs. Texas/Texas Tech winner
(#3) Oklahoma vs. (#6) Oklahoma State

Friday night’s semifinals match the winners in the order above (1-4 and 2-3 if the favorites survive). The championship game will be played Saturday at 6 p.m. on ESPN

Again, pick a name out of the hat! Vegas will have almost all the games involving teams seeded 1-7 near pick-em. Unless TCU or Kansas State makes a stunning run, it wouldn’t be a shocker to see any other team get hot and cut down the nets Saturday evening.

Why will those pointspreads be so close to the vest? The conference margin averages will show you why. Remember that the top four teams inflated things a bit with home court performances.

CONFERENCE MARGIN AVERAGES
Kansas +6.8
Oklahoma +5.9
Baylor +5.1
Iowa State +4.7
Texas +0.9
Oklahoma State -0.2
West Virginia -0.3
Kansas State -4.3
TCU -5.1
Texas Tech -13.5

That may be the tightest packed #1-9 we’ve ever seen. Usually the champion has a much bigger number than that (which you’ve seen already in earlier previews). Usually the NINTH best team isn’t just 12 points before the best. Either Kansas State or TCU could do damage in the NIT were they invited. You can see why Texas would be a favorite in the NIT if they get snubbed for the Dance. They had a positive scoring differential in a tough conference!

JIM HURLEY and his full team of experts is really looking forward to showing their handicping chops in this much-anticipated tournament. That will be more prevalent in the later rounds. Possibilities on the Wednesday schedule besides the two Big 12 openers include…

*Day-Night Quadrupleheaders in the ACC, Pac 12, and Conference USA!
*Nighttime Doubleheaders in seven different tournaments!
*Bonus NBA highlighted by LA Clippers/OKC and Houston/Portland

You can purchase BEST BETS every day right here at the website with your credit card all the way through MARCH MADNESS. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours Wednesday. Remember to take care of business EARLY every day this week because of all the afternoon action. There are day games Wednesday in Greensboro (ACC), Birmingham (CUSA), and Las Vegas (Pac 12).

Back tomorrow to look at the Big 10. Here’s this week’s NOTEBOOK schedule…

Thursday: Big 10 Tournament Preview…elites begin play Thursday in Chicago
Friday-thru-Sunday: Select big game previews on the fly (which may include Kansas vs. Baylor, Iowa State, or Oklahoma)

The excitement continues to build as we work our way through the single most exciting seven-day stretch of college basketball handicapping on the whole calendar. Hook up right now with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK. The WINNING is just BEGINNING!

Be sure to follow:
Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley
Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters

 

24
Sep

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