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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Big 12 tournament promises to be unpredictable

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Kansas State and Kansas tied for the regular-season Big 12 title.

That doesn’t mean they feel very good about themselves entering the league tournament.

The Wildcats lost a road game against Oklahoma State on Saturday, while the Jayhawks were routed by Baylor a few hours later in a game that would have given them the outright title.

Consider it proof that the Big 12 tournament, which starts tonight at Sprint Center, promises to be among the most intriguing and unpredictable in conference history.

“I’ve never seen the league better, with more teams that can win your league tournament, than we have now,” said the Jayhawks’ Bill Self, whose team has won five of the last seven editions.

“Not very often you go in and say, ‘Well, I think that team can positively win three games in a row,’” Self said, “and there are six teams that can win three games in a row.”

Maybe more. Maybe even some that can win four in a row.

Seventh-seeded Texas, which is 0-6 in Big 12 tournament title games, faces league newcomer TCU on the opening night. The Longhorns have won three of their last four after a disastrous start to the season, their improved play coinciding with the return of star guard Myck Kabongo.

“I think this tournament may be the most competitive we’ve ever had, because there’s a lot of team that go into it thinking, ‘We have to do some work,’” Texas coach Rick Barnes said. “We know what’s there. We need to win, it’s plain and simple, and not just one game. For us to do what we set out the year to do, we have to win the tournament.”

That’s the same situation that Texas Tech and league newcomer West Virginia are in as they prepare to play the other game tonight. The winner advances to play top-seeded Kansas, while the Texas-TCU winner gets No. 2 seed Kansas State in the quarterfinals on Thursday.

The other quarterfinals are already set.

Third-seeded Oklahoma State faces sixth-seeded Baylor, which is coming off that eye-opening victory over the Jayhawks. But at 18-13 overall, the Bears are still desperately chasing marquee wins if they want to reach the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years.

“All season long, I’ve said there is parity in college basketball,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “Our team can beat anybody in the nation, and as everybody has shown in college basketball, anybody can lose to anybody. We just need to keep the execution going.”

No. 4 seed Oklahoma and fifth-seeded Iowa State are sitting more comfortably than Baylor on the NCAA tournament bubble, but nevertheless, a win in their Thursday match-up would take much of the pressure off them come Selection Sunday.

“I like the rhythm we’re playing with right now,” said Cyclones coach Fred Hoiberg, whose team has gone eight years without winning a game at the Big 12 tournament.

“We’re going to go down there and approach it like it’s a very important game, which it is,” Hoiberg said. “We’re going to go down there with the right mindset.”

The mindsets of Kansas State and Kansas should provide quite the story line.

The Jayhawks won both of their regular-season meetings, including a lopsided verdict at Allen Fieldhouse. But the Wildcats fared better against the rest of the league, so the teams were tied in the standings as they entered their road finales last Saturday.

The Wildcats played well against the Cowboys, building a nine-point lead in the second half, only to wither down the stretch and lose 76-70. Their coach, Bruce Weber, and most of their players were so dejected after the defeat that they didn’t even bother to watch Kansas play Baylor on television a few hours later, even though it would determine whether they shared the title.

The Jayhawks struggled early on, managed to close the gap to six points in the second half, and then watched the Bears go on a late run in an 81-58 upset victory.

The result: Kansas State and Kansas were co-champions of the regular season.

“A lot of people, instead of saying we won the Big 12, they want to focus more on, ‘Oh, Kansas should have won it because they beat you guys twice,’ or whatever,” said the Wildcats’ Angel Rodriguez. “We got the same record, and that’s all that matters. They should’ve took care of business, too, just like we should have took care of business against them.”

With the teams on opposite sides of the bracket in Kansas City, they’ll each have to win two games to get another shot at each other. But if they manage to do that, the feeling on both sides of the rivalry is that the game would serve as an unofficial tiebreaker.

“This year the tournament means a lot because we tied for the regular season,” Kansas guard Travis Releford said. “If we make it that far, I hope to win it outright.”

Comments

Kent Richardson 1 year, 7 months ago

You are "en fuego" dude. The Wicked Witch of the East is full of Hoya and the WW of the West needs the Samson treatment if Hebrew is Spokane out there. Victor Mature will become Victor Manure with no Promised Land in sight.

jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

In the day-after Tule Fog of the all night puppy-sitting haze, I seem to recall cracking wise about this AP story, or did I merely hallucinate do so?

So: now my Dear Sky Mastersons and Nathan Detroits and Big Julies, I does not seems to see the likeness of what my memory claims to remember at the top of this august thread from which all those enjoying whistle swallowing par excellence do here gain en-smartening and occasional amusements from the (ah-chooo) lowly likes of me.

Did my epistle forthwith get pulled? Or to reitierate my reiteration, am I just imagining that I posted that not-eponymous Makepeace Thackerayanesque satire in the wee small hours of the Sinatran morning with Nelson Riddle like verve?

To wit: to whom, zabs, wuz you referrin' to as bein' "en fuego" so far north of Cienfuego?

jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

Missouri: Its a state of mindlessness.

Michael Luby 1 year, 7 months ago

maybe not so much the evil empire as the biggest guy on the block with a target on his back.

John Mueller 1 year, 7 months ago

I finally have this team figured out.

If Elijah can average 30 for the rest of the season, I think we win a Championship.

If Elijah averages 10 the rest of the season, we probably win 2 more games.

I know its a team game, and I know we have some unbelievable pieces, but the dude has to play at a high level in post season or we done.

Oh, and, if Elijah doesn't stop changing hands behind his back, I'm gonna jump....

off something.

My pick for Big 12 tourney champ: Oklahoma State

But, then again, i am a terrible prognositcator and speller, so hope its the Hawks...

Btw, thoroughly enjoyed Danny and the Miracles the other night. Really well done!

I had forgotten all about Normore and I thought the role that Lincoln Minor played in the piece was a bit out of balance. I don't remember that guy playing much, but might be wrong.

Love Archie Marshall. When he went down against Duke ranks right up there on the pain-o-meter to losing that game to Zona when they won it all.

I think i cried like "The little Mayor" on both occassions.....

Here's hoping for 39 from Elijah on Friday night!

REHawk 1 year, 7 months ago

The Evil Empire had best bring its A Game if it hopes to win this league tournament. That was an embarrassing stomping by Dreadful Drew. Hopefully, yet another wake-up call. Bewilders me that a group of experienced seniors and arguably the best freshman ever to adorn a KU uniform continues to fall to squads with miserable season records. (Not to devalue Wilt, who couldn't play his freshman year.)

REHawk 1 year, 7 months ago

If you guys are responding to my post, thinking you have unearthed a Misery fan, then you certainly haven't followed LJW posts carefully this past half decade. And if you weren't chagrined by that drubbing in Waco or the holocaust down at TCU, then I must be dumber than Dick Cheney, even to be reacting to you.

jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

REHawk = bedrock mined deep from Mt. Oread.

He is my adopted coach.

He knows more basketball than any ten other board rats here.

Don't tread on him.

Age has its privileges.

He no longer has to tell people what he knows, unless he feels like it.

He's here for the Jayhawks and he's here for healing and living.

Again, don't tread on the coach.

My job around here is to take the abuse, so knowledgeable aliases like him don't have to.

kufankam 1 year, 7 months ago

haha... very funny. double check your "2012 Big 12 Champions". You haven't won a Conference Championship since 1994!!! You won the "Conference Tourney Championship". NOT THE SAME THING! Those are two totally different titles and are represented by two different banners in the rafters. Not that I would expect you to know what a Championship Banner looks like... By the way, how is middle of the road in the SEC treating ya? About the same as you ranked in the Big12!!! HA!

Tony Bandle 1 year, 7 months ago

The 2012-2013 Missouri theme..unbeatable at home..unbearable on the road. The state of Missouri continues to proudly claim it's number one NATIONAL status for number of puppy mills, meth labs and unlicensed child day-care centers. Phil Pressey is writing a book, "One Thousand Way A Point Guard Can Lose A Game...And How I Did It."

Woody Cragg 1 year, 7 months ago

To be or not to be? I have to be at Children's Mercy tomorrow morning shortly after 10:00 am...

While just down the road there should be scads of seats available starting at $65 for mountaintop view, Bushnells not included, or 2 Uncle Bens for all 4 days. No cover across the street at Johnny's, some slow mo replays, rather absorbant beverage fees, & long waiting lines at the head. My preference...55" Samsung w/surround & unlimited replays, cheap beer straight from the px & NO LINE at the fridge or the head. Plus Christian Brothers, Davis, & Gurley for plan B. Guess where I'll be sitting with all the money?

REHawk 1 year, 7 months ago

I've the 52" Toshiba, a fridge filled with cheap beer, and the mute close to hand if Fran and Co. choose to denigrate the Jayhawk program. Yee-haw!

Woody Cragg 1 year, 7 months ago

Last time I parked at the P & L for a hockey game that was about 20 bucks too. Plus, the very first time I entered the Sprint Center I did not even think about having a pocket knife in my jeans, I always carry one unless flying. Hello? I thought they were going to give me an old fashioned beatdown when I refused to give it to them. Went back outside & left it under a doormat & was still there when I left. Was an unhappy camper at the time as it is not a dimestore piece. Absolutely earned my lesson in political/social correctness on the maiden voyage. When the Blades used to play at Kemper we were often in a suite complete with room service & open bar...that was nice, but we've no good connections in this day & age at Sprint. Best avail now are half price nosebleeds which are no better than full price. Not an option.

JD Roth 1 year, 7 months ago

The price you pay to live in a "Free Country" also nothing more obvious in regards to the wimpification of America than to see grown men in an Airport going through security with their shoes off. Founding fathers and dead vets rolling in their graves.

JD Roth 1 year, 7 months ago

Fran Fraschilla?????????? Give me a break...... If Directv didn't have the delay I would listen to Bob and Greg.

Woody Cragg 1 year, 7 months ago

Last time I checked tix for the Sat game, they were about $45 upstairs, but if an all Kansas final the scalpers will be in full bloom.

GreatJake 1 year, 7 months ago

Okay Jayhawks:

Went to my Dad's funeral today with several Jayhawk family members.

We are really really looking forward to some heavenly Jayhawk basketball through the first Monday in April.

Dont let us down.....and we thank all the players that you very rarely do.

RCJHKU

jaybate 1 year, 7 months ago

Death brings out many things in families.

Love of the game is one of them.

He will be watching with you always.

Rock Chalk!

MinorThreat 1 year, 7 months ago

I'm telling you, B. Weber is the best used car salesman. Period. Why he's coaching and not selling gremlins and pacers I have no idea.

ParisHawk 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, he does like the road. He even comes on this board using various highway signs as avatars.

Sally Presson 1 year, 7 months ago

Drgnslayer, bruce weber is an idiot!!! And what does Bill say after hearing his rude remark about the KU vs Iowa State game? Bill said "No comment' like the great man he is. I didn't like weber when he was at Illinois and sure don't like him in the big 12. Not because he's a great coach, but because he has no class. These funerals he's giving for past coaches, is rediculous!!!

Jayhawks you're picked to win the tourney, go into KC with that killer attitude and don't ease up on anyone!!!

Rock Chalk

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