The Big 12 Tournament is set to get underway Wednesday night and our staff predicts who they think will win the tournament and why.
Wesley Shoemaker: On the top half of the bracket, I think Kansas is going to be in more trouble than people think. West Virginia or Kansas State can both give them a tough game. Then follow that up with a possible semifinal matchup with Texas and things could get dangerous. The Longhorns have the size to play with the Jayhawks which makes things dangerous.
On the bottom half, I think it is Baylor’s to lose. The Bears have a comfortable quarterfinal matchup with Oklahoma and then will also be favored against either Iowa State or Texas Tech. I think Iowa State could shock some people as Izaiah Brockington can take over a game and that can be dangerous in March. Iowa State has been trending the wrong direction in some bracket projections and a win versus Texas Tech will all but seal them into the tournament.
In the final, I expect Baylor to play Texas. I think the Longhorns will reach the final and the Bears will coast to their first championship game appearance since 2014. The Bears are built for March in my mind, and have the experience from last season as well as the talent to compete and beat anyone in the country. With that being said, Baylor will be leaving Kansas City victorious.
Aaron Parker: With the Big 12 being the top conference in college basketball, I expect nothing but good games in this tournament. There are three teams that are atop college basketball and have a great chance to make the Final Four, and they are Texas Tech, Baylor, and Kansas.
Barring an upset in the opening rounds, I think the game of the tournament will be Baylor vs. Texas Tech in the semi-finals. Baylor is an amazing team that is coming off a National Championship, but I like Texas Tech here. I think the defense will step up and get a late stop to propel the Red Raiders to the championship game.
I think Kansas gets through their side of the bracket and faces Texas Tech in the championship. Texas Tech beat Kansas in Lubbock and almost won at Allen Fieldhouse, so they can keep up with the Jayhawks. However, the Big 12 Tournament is practically a home game for Kansas and I think their fans will prove to be crucial in the championship game.
Nicholas Kinzel: The Big 12 is without a doubt the toughest conference in all of college basketball to play in. It’s hard to win in this league. Kansas might be the No. 1 seed in this tournament but they don’t have an easy path to the championship game. Should Kansas State beat West Virginia in the first round game, they could give the Jayhawks a run for their money as they only lost by three against Kansas in their first matchup back in January. If Kansas moves on to the semifinals and Texas takes care of TCU, Chris Beard’s squad is not going to go down without a fight.
While Baylor looks like the next best team after Kansas, I look for Texas Tech to give them a run for their money should they meet in the semifinals. Nobody really knew what kind of team Texas Tech would be this year after the departure of Chris Beard but Mark Adams and the Red Raiders have had a phenomenal season to this point. The Red Raiders also beat Baylor in both matchups this season.
In the final, I think it’s going to come down to Texas and Texas Tech. The Red Raiders beat the Longhorns in both meetings this season, one of those win’s coming in Chris Beard’s return to Lubbock. I think Texas Tech is going to be a sleeper pick in the NCAA Tournament this year but that starts with taking care of business in Kansas City.
Pick: Texas Tech
Rachel Libert: The Big 12 conference this year has been highly competitive and is definitely one of the toughest conferences in college basketball. There are a few teams I expect to see have a good run in the March Madness tournament, one especially being Kansas. As far as the Big 12 tournament, I think the Jayhawks are going to come out on top.
In the quarterfinals, I think Texas will beat TCU and go on to play Kansas in the semifinals. I expect to see Baylor play Texas Tech in the semifinals and think Texas Tech will win in a close game. Baylor has a title to defend, but I think the Red Raiders will play like they did against Baylor in the regular season, where they won both matchups.
In the final, Kansas will play Texas Tech. The last time these two teams met the Jayhawks won in double over time, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see an overtime in the final. These two teams have both had successful seasons, having immense offensive and defensive talent as well as depth on their benches. I expect to see a battle between these two teams but think Kansas will clinch the title.
Luke Blain: WVU has fought hard all season and I do not think this roster is without talent, but I just cannot see this team making it too far in the Big 12 tournament. It is hard to confidently say they can make a run in such a deep and talented conference. While I believe they received a favorable first-round matchup in Kansas State, the next opponent would be Kansas, who they lost to by double-digits in both regular season meetings. I think they will carry some momentum from their win over TCU, but I don’t see this team going any further than the second round.
As for the rest of the bracket, I believe we will see a Texas and Kansas semi-final where Kansas tops the Longhorns. I also believe that Baylor will be in the championship with a close win over Texas Tech.
This will be an exciting championship where the easy pick is Kansas. However, I think Baylor wins this game. Baylor plays with an especially physical style of basketball with some great shooting. I think the reigning national champions will punch their ticket to the dance in the Big 12 tournament.
Matt Natriello: The Big 12 has been very competitive at the top all season, and that makes it so there is no obvious favorite for the conference tournament. Kansas and Baylor have both held the top spot for sizeable amounts of time, and both have dropped games to opponents you’d expect them to beat. Texas Tech and Texas both have also had stretches of great play, and have the talent and coaching to take down the tournament.
I think the tournament final will be Kansas and Texas Tech. Baylor ended the year on an amazing run but will fall to the Red Raiders again in the semi-finals. Kansas should run through their side of the bracket. In the end, Texas Tech’s Cinderella season won’t end in a conference tournament victory, and Kansas will once again take home the tournament.