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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

Sally Presson 1 year, 1 month 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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MinorThreat 1 year, 1 month 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.

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William Blake 1 year, 1 month ago

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

I'm sure Bruce Weber will keep us entertained all weekend with his witty commentary.

I heard he is preparing to stage a funeral for Frank Martin at halftime.... He said he would perform it in Cuban.

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Born_And_Raised_A_KU_Fan 1 year, 1 month ago

We are playing Texas Tech tomorrow. They beat West Virginia at the buzzer. The way they were celebrating, you would think they had won the Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

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GreatJake 1 year, 1 month 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

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 1 month 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.

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Woody Cragg 1 year, 1 month 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?

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The_New_I_49_MO 1 year, 1 month ago

I think it's hilarious that the Tex@$$ 10 doesn't have a decent arena in its own territory to hold its League Tournament, so it has to conduct it on our turf. One would think DeLoss Dodds would hold a gun to Bob Bowlsby's head and force him to have the tournament in Dallas. Go ahead, Beakers. Keep bringing revenue to the state. It's what helped bring I-49 to Missouri. I-49 would never travel through Kans@$$ because there's nothing in that state worth bringing another Interstate to.

Go ahead, have your fun in KC, but just remember, Kansas City is OUR town. Here's looking forward to the day when the SEC forces the Tex@$$ 10 out of KC so we can hold the SEC Tournament in the Sprint Center. And here's looking forward to the day when you finally muster up the gumption to play us again.

M-I-Z-Z-O-U! The 2012 Big 12 Champions!

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REHawk 1 year, 1 month 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.)

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John Mueller 1 year, 1 month 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!

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Janet Scott 1 year, 1 month ago

Bruce Weber couldn't find his way out of a phone booth if the door was left open. KSU will arrive at Sprint Center riding tractors pulling fully loaded manure spreaders. Scott Drew will be in KC, thinking it's Halloween: he will be masquerading as a basketball coach. It's Big Top time in KC! Clowns abound!

It's time KU differentiate themselves from the rest of the league, leaving no doubt who rules Big 12 roundball. They need to kick a$$ over three games at the Sprint Center. Parity in the Big 12? There shouldn't be: it should be KU alone at the top, followed by the rest of the want-a-be's.

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