Writer: Lucas Garza
Kansas won the Big 12 regular season title for the 14th straight season, and surprised many college basketball analysts while doing so. With a roster filled with guards who can shoot from the perimeter, Kansas’ lack of depth down low was thought to be a major issue for the Jayhawks this season. Kansas came into this season having only lost 11 games at Allen FIeldhouse under Bill Self, but the Jayhawks lost four games at home this season, including three conference games. Despite the unexpected home struggles, Udoka Azubuike and Devonte’ Graham led the way for the Jayhawks all season, with help from Svi Mykhailiuk, and proved that Bill Self still owns the Big 12.
The Big 12 was deep this year, and everyone knew that in November. Kansas State was expected to finish at the bottom of the conference, but they did not look back after their hot start in conference play. Iowa State’s young team finished in last, but will likely be competing next year as their young talent gained more experience this season. Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas finished in a four way tie for 6th place in the conference. These four teams are all on bubble watch, with Baylor and Oklahoma almost being locks.
If Oklahoma State and Texas win their first games in the Big 12 tournament, the conference could put an astounding 90% of their teams in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas plays the winner of the Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State game, and Texas Tech awaits the winner of Texas vs. Iowa State. Kansas almost has a tougher opponent in the quarterfinals, playing either an Oklahoma State team that swept the Jayhawks this season, or the front runner for national player of the year for most of the season in Trae Young. Kansas State and Baylor face off with each other in the quarterfinals, and Baylor and West Virginia play on Texas Tech’s side of the bracket.
The Big 12 First Team All-Conference will most likely consist of four guards and one big man. Trae Young, Devonte’ Graham, and Jevon Carter are most certainly locks. Texas Tech’s Keenan Evans will probably join them. The big man on the first team will come down to Mo Bamba, Udoka Azubuike, and Vladimir Brodziansky, all who had their breakout moments throughout the season.
The Big 12 tournament has been dominated by Iowa State lately, as the Cyclones have won the title three of the past four years. For the Cyclones to win once again, they would have to do so as the last seed in the tournament, but anything can happen at the Sprint Center. The Big 12 tournament has produced plenty of memorable games over the past 21 years, and will continue to do so next week in Kansas City.