Big 12 Tournament Quarterfinals Preview
by Robert Ferringo - 03/09/2007
Kansas has The Look.
Now, to some people that Look could signify that this team is ready to make The Leap and is poised for a Final Four run. To others it could mean that the Jayhawks are doing what they always do: sucking the public in with a dominant late season run before inexplicably losing to a mid-Major school in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Regardless of what you think this team may or may not accomplish in the Big Dance they are a solid favorite to cut down the nets in at Ford Center in Oklahoma City in the Big 12 Tournament. The conference event began with a bang on Thursday, as Oklahoma State thrashed Nebraska, Baylor bumped off Missouri, Texas Tech cemented their tournament berth with a business-like win over Colorado and Oklahoma survived a scare to hold off Iowa State.
But this tournament is just getting started.
The quarterfinals of the Big 12 tourney start today at 12:30 p.m. with top-seeded Kansas taking on the Sooners. Beyond that there's three more match-ups with far-reaching ramifications. The two biggest games of the day feature Kansas State trying to earn its way into the Big Dance by beating Texas Tech, followed by Oklahoma State hopping to accomplish the same end by dropping Texas A&M.
Here's my quick breakdown of what to watch for in the final seven games of this tournament:
Kansas - The Jayhawks earned the top seed by winning the regular season crown. They're been absolutely devastating foes, winning their past eight games by an average of 22 points. Deep and talented, with five players averaging over nine points per game and eight guys averaging 15 minutes or more each game, the Jayhawks have exactly what it takes to run the table and lock up a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They are No. 16 in the nation in scoring offense and No. 27 in scoring defense.
Texas A&M - The Aggies were one of just two teams to beat the Jayhawks in Lawrence this season. That was the only meeting between the two schools yet this season. The thing I don't like about the Aggies in this tournament is that they expend so much energy on the defensive end (No. 16 in the nation in scoring defense and No. 1 in field goal defense). I don't think that's conducive to three wins in three days. Also, they have perhaps the toughest road to a title, with an emotional game against Oklahoma State likely followed with tilts against Texas and then Kansas.
Texas - I just want to use this forum to go out on a limb and say that I think that D.J. Augustin will end up being a better pro player than Kevin Durant. Call it a hunch. But that is the then. This is the now. Texas did sweep Baylor in the regular season, but didn't cover in either game.
Texas Tech - Beware of the old Mail In Game today from the Red Raiders. Tech has likely earned an at-large bid by beating Colorado. They've won six of seven and will be running up against a team that is desperate to prove that they belong in the Big Dance.
Kansas State - With losses by Massachusetts and Georgia Tech on Thursday, the door is open for the Wildcats to sneak into the party. They've alternated wins and losses - both straight-up and against the spread - in their last nine games. Bob Huggins has this team hungry and focused, but now it's just a matter of being able to handle the pressure of playing their best game of the year with all eyes on them. A win over Tech and a decent showing in the semis against Kansas likely punches K-State's ticket.
Oklahoma State - Now that they're healthy the Cowboys just might be a force to be reckoned with. They absolutely dominated Nebraska in the first round, holding the Huskers to a mere 27 percent shooting for the game. State does have somewhat of a home-court advantage playing in Oklahoma City on a court that they're had some recent success on. But the question is whether or not they can keep up the defensive intensity for four straight days with such a short bench.
Kansas (-10.5) vs. Oklahoma - The Jayhawks had to scrap for a win at OU two weeks ago. That ran Oklahoma's mark to 7-3 ATS against Kansas in their last 10 meetings. However, it's bold to bet against KU right now since 16 of their past 21 wins have come by double figures.
Kansas State (-2) vs. Texas Tech - The Red Raiders have won and covered in the last five meetings between these schools. However, I think that K-State is going to play hungry and desperate, knowing that the NIT awaits if they lose.
Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma State - The good news for the Cowboys is that it's unlikely that Mario Boggan and JamesOn Curry will be held to a combined 20 points again. The bad news is that Sean Sutton played four of his five starters for 31+ minutes in a blowout. Everyone's expecting the miracle run by OSU. I don't think it happens.
Baylor vs. Texas - I don't think it's a fluke that the Bears covered the spread in both meetings this season. Their guards are better than people give them credit for and if the Longhorns are looking ahead to a rematch with Texas A&M then I think the Bears could sneak out with the cash.
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