With two of the conference’s teams ranked nationally in the Top 10 and a few others either ranked or receiving votes, this week’s Big 12 women’s basketball tournament in Kansas City, Mo., figures to be one of the most entertaining and competitive crapshoots in years.
But you don’t have to tell the coaches that.
“Our top two teams could both be in the Final Four,” Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “It’s ominous to think about going into the Big 12 tournament. Every game is literally up for grabs. The league is that good.”
Be that as it may, the league, and in particular its postseason tourney, still will be headlined by regular-season champion, Baylor (28-2 overall, 15-1 in Big 12), the No. 3-ranked team in the nation. Led by likely All-American Brittney Griner, a suffocating defense and some serious sharp-shooters, the Bears remain one of the most dangerous teams in the country.
Recent history has not been kind to the top seed in the women’s tourney. The last No. 1 seed to win the conference’s postseason gala was Oklahoma in 2006.
Two teams that figure to have a leg up on the rest of the field in terms of having a shot to knock off Baylor are second-seeded Texas A&M; (25-4, 13-3), ranked No. 8, and sixth-seeded Texas Tech (21-9, 8-8), the only league team to beat the Bears during the regular season.
“It’s a brand-new season,” Texas Tech coach Kristy Curry said. “We’ve got a chance to win a championship, and we’ve proven that we can beat the No. 1 team in the country. Why can’t we go win the Big 12 championship?”
Of course, those aren’t the only two teams with a shot. Third-seeded Oklahoma (20-10, 10-6) and fourth-seeded Kansas State (20-9, 10-6) also will enjoy day-one byes, and a good chunk of the field will be playing for its postseason lives.
One other note of interest regarding Baylor: The Bears are attempting to become the eighth team in 15 seasons to win the Big 12 regular-season and postseason tournament titles. BU doubled up in 2005 and later went on to win the national championship.
The tournament opens at 11 a.m. today when No. 8 Kansas (19-11, 6-10) plays No. 9 Colorado (15-14, 6-10). Other day-one match-ups are: No. 5 Iowa State (21-9, 9-7) vs. No. 12 Nebraska (13-17, 3-13) at 1:30 p.m.; No. 7 Texas (18-12, 7-9) vs. No. 10 Missouri (13-17, 5-11) at 5 p.m.; and No. 6 Texas Tech vs. No. 11 Oklahoma State (16-13, 4-12) at 7:30.
Game 1: No. 9 Colorado vs. No. 8 Kansas, 11 a.m.
Game 2: No. 12 Nebraska vs. No. 5 Iowa State, 1:30 p.m.
Game 3: No. 10 Missouri vs. No. 7 Texas, 5 p.m.
Game 4: No. 11 Oklahoma State vs. No. 6 Texas Tech, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Game 1 Winner vs. No. 1 Baylor, 11 a.m.
Game 6: Game 2 Winner vs. No. 4 Kansas State, 1:30 p.m.
Game 7: Game 3 Winner vs. No. 2 Texas A&M;, 5 p.m.
Game 8: Game 4 Winner vs. No. 3 Oklahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Game 9: Game 5 Winner vs. Game 6 Winner, 12 p.m.
Game 10: Game 7 Winner vs. Game 8 Winner, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 12
Game 11: Game 9 Winner vs. Game 10 Winner, 11 a.m.