Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Men's Big XII Tournament Preview

With the Big XII tournament beginning this Thursday, it's time to preview each team's chances to take home the least important conference tournament championship in college basketball.

#12 Colorado (7-19) (3-13) - With only one quality player in Richard Roby (any relation to Reggie?) and a coaching staff that is likely on their way out, the Buffaloes started looking ahead to football season. Oh wait, started looking ahead to....

Well Colorado's season has been a disappointing one to say the least, and facing a Texas Tech team that needs a win to solidify its NCAA hopes, you can pretty much sum up Colorado's season with one thought: At least we haven't had any sex scandals.

#11 Baylor (14-15) (4-12) - A year that was supposed to be filled with promise was a bit of a disappointment for the Bears, as the perennial bottom dweller, well, dwelled in the bottom. The team shows a lot of promise as their influx of young talent has made this team no longer an easy walk over. This showed as the team won 2 of its last 4.

They should give Missouri a run in the opening round, and if they can get by Missouri, Texas will be disappointed as the Horns have won both meetings by a combined 6 points. But Missouri has been playing well and Baylor won't get by them.

#10 Nebraska (17-13) (6-10) - While Nebraska hasn't played well down the stretch, losing to Iowa State and Colorado, they did beat Oklahoma State. So they're not the fasting sinking ship in the Big XII. That wouldn't bode much confidence for their chances in the tournament, unless, they get to play Oklahoma State in the first round. Look for Nebraska to pull of the upset, if you can call it that in the first round, since I mean, their basketball team has a pulse.

But what are folks in Nebraska saying about their chances beyond the first round? Man, has that Sam Keller looks impressive in Spring practice.

#9 Oklahoma (15-14) (6-10) - What was expected to be a rebuilding year for Oklahoma has been exactly that. It was tough for Capel losing Scottie Reynolds and Damion James and not having a go to player on the entire roster.

What an enjoyable season to watch. After showing some promise by winning 4 straight, Oklahoma reminded everyone that they are in fact, not good by losing their last 6 to end the season. Look for it to be 7 straight against Iowa State, not that anyone in Oklahoma will notice.

#8 Iowa State (15-15) (6-10) - Is it me or is the bottom half of the Big XII just painful to watch. A collection of teams that aren't really worth a full paragraph. There's nothing really to note here, other than Iowa State consistently manages to be the model of mediocrity, by going 3-3 down the stretch alternating wins and losses. I'm sure Greg McDermott wishes he had stayed at Northern Iowa.

#7 Oklahoma State (20-11) (6-10) - The only thing that wouldn't have made this complete and utter collapse not painful to watch, would've been if we could've seen the Eddie Sutton bitter beer face during it all. Instead we have to watch Sean Sutton look completely overwhelmed as his team quit on him. 2-8 down the stretch. So much for 5 or 6 teams in the NCAA tournament.

This team is a debacle and could possibly have ramifications for the program for years to come. Sean, I think The Fray has a song just for you. Look for Nebraska to win back to back games and just make the pain end on the Pokes' season.

#6 Missouri (18-11) (7-9) - The only team in the Big XII North that actually showed anything this season other than Kansas. That still doesn't make them good, but their uptempo pressing style will continue to make them a tough game. They'll be even tougher when they get the personnel to play it. Should handle Baylor, can't stop Durant, but really? Who can?

#5 Texas Tech (20-11) (9-7) - Bob Knight teams always find a way into the tournament. While at times they looked great, and others they looked terrible, they managed to look like a questionable team. Then they win 3 straight get to 20 wins, and surely will be a lock after beating Colorado in the first round. Many think with the way they've been playing they'll get by Kansas State in the second round and give Kansas a run for their money. I kind of agree with Many.

#4 Kansas State (21-10) (10-6) - After winning 7 straight (6 in conference) Kansas State and Bob Huggins were the talk of the town. But after going 4-4 down the stretch with losses to Nebraska and Oklahoma State (How is that even possible?) Kansas State's tournament work is not done. They will most likely face Texas Tech in the second round and need a win to solidify their tournament hopes.

Regardless of what happens, the future looks bright at Kansas State, and really, one must wonder at what point in the whole Bob Huggins saga did Cincinnati actually think it was making a good decision? You, enjoy Cincinnati Mike Williams, good decision there, really good decision.

#3 Texas (22-8) (12-4) - The ankle is okay. And with that, so are the Horns' tournament chances. While a run to the title game is possible, getting by A&M on a neutral floor will be extremely difficult. Durant is going to dominate games and could raise his play to another level, much like he did in the first half of the Kansas game. But, the post-season hopes of the Longhorns will rest on DJ Augustin. If he plays well Texas will be dangerous, if he struggles, we're a one pony show.

If Texas does end up playing A&M in the semi-finals of this tournament, who will the fans in Oklahoma City be cheering for? Will they boo both teams? Will they cheer for the Hornets? Or will they just wait for the Sonics to move to town?

#2 Texas A&M (25-5) (13-3) - This is the environment Texas A&M and Billy Gillespie basketball is made for. With a deep and experienced roster, and a team that plays hard nosed pressure defense and comes at you for 40 minutes, A&M is tough to beat on a neutral floor. Throw in Acie Law and the crap that he pulls out in close games, A&M is going to be playing for the Big XII title.

#1 Kansas (27-4) (14-2) - They keep saying that this Kansas team is different than the last two years. I thought they said that last year? Either way, Kansas is loaded and can play with anyone. They also have another gear, as they showed in the Texas game, that almost makes them unstoppable. They could face a very hungry Texas Tech team which could catch them sleeping. Otherwise, look for them to get a great game from Texas A&M in the finals.

But really, I think this team is just waiting biding its time until it can start worrying about how it's going to choke in the tournament this season. This team may be different then the last two, but one key element remains: Bill Self.

Predictions, Round 1: Tech over Colorado, Missouri over Baylor, Nebraska over Oklahoma State, Oklahoma over Iowa State.

Predictions, Round 2: Kansas over Oklahoma, Tech over Kansas State, Texas over Missouri, A&M over Nebraska

Predictions, Semis: Tech over Kansas, A&M over Texas

Predictions, Finals: A&M over Tech

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