2013 Big 12 Tournament Picks and College Basketball Odds
by Robert Ferringo - 3/12/2013
Only two teams have won the Big 12 Tournament Championship since 2006. And one of them is no longer in the league.
Kansas (five) and Missouri (two) have dominated the Big 12 Championship over the past seven years. And the Jayhawks, after winning their ninth straight Big 12 regular season crown, are the heavy favorites to cut down the nets again this weekend.
However, this year’s Big 12 is among the most balanced and most parity-driven in a decade. Five teams in the league won double-digit conference games, and for the first time in league history there were five schools that won 11 or more Big 12 games. Granted, there are two more games now than 10 years ago. But the fact is that we head into the league tournament with more teams with a realistic shot of seizing the title than I can remember.
The Big 12 conference tournament begins Wednesday, March 13 and is being held at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. Here is Doc’s Sports Big 12 Tournament picks with college basketball odds:
The Favorite: Kansas (-200)
The Jayhawks are the clear-cut favorite to win this tournament. But they are not without flaws. Kansas is young and somewhat inconsistent. The Jayhawks were just blown out by 23 at Baylor last weekend and also suffered through a three-game losing streak in early February. This team has been overrated, and I don’t trust them. But their talent is undeniable. Jeff Withey is one of the best centers in the nation and is the anchor in the middle. Kansas’ size is really what sets it apart. Ben McLemore is young but exceptionally talented. Seniors Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford provide a ton of experience. And athletic wings create matchup nightmares. Kansas can sleep into the semis. But they will likely need to beat two good, NCAA Tournament-bound teams to take the crown. Nothing this program can’t handle.
The Contender: Kansas State (+350)
It was a tough call between the Wildcats and uber-talented Oklahoma State, but I think that Kansas State is the team with the best chance to knock off the Jayhawks if they meet in the Big 12 title game. Kansas State lost both regular season matchups with the Jayhawks. But with their superior guard play they would be tough to beat three times. K-State earned a piece of the regular season title and has the deepest backcourt in the league. The duo of Rodney McGruder and Shane Southwell can score quickly and efficiently and the Wildcats are one of the best three-point shooting teams in the nation. They should end up in a battle against either Oklahoma State or Baylor in the semifinals. But, if they survive, then I think K-State can avoid losing a third time to its hated in-state rival.
The Sleeper: Oklahoma (+800)
Lon Kruger is one of the more underrated coaches in the country and has done exceptional work with this group. Oklahoma is one of the more experienced teams in the league with seniors Romero Osby, Steven Pledger, Andrew Fitzgerald and Sam Grooms all fighting to extend their careers. OU has beaten Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State already this year, and with their experience level they won’t be scared of anyone. The Sooners are sound defensively. But if they have a weakness it is scoring droughts. If Oklahoma succeeds in pounding the ball into the paint and getting to the basket, and if they can make just enough jumpers to keep teams honest, then they have a chance to pull a stunner in Kansas City.
The Spoiler: Baylor (+800)
This team is the X-Factor in the tournament. Baylor is on the wrong side of the tournament bubble and likely needs to win the Big 12 Championship to play its way into the Big Dance. The Bears played in the conference title game last year and have the best player in the league in Pierre Jackson. They square off with Oklahoma State in their opener. If they win that they will likely play a Kansas State team that they lost to by just three points on March 2. The key will be getting Jackson shots and also getting shooter Brady Heslip, who has had a miserable season, into a rhythm. Also, for as much hype as freshman big man Isaiah Austin gets, I think he is an anchor around the neck of this team. Baylor needs him to shoot less, rebound and defend more and to be a complimentary player instead of trying to be a superstar, which he is clearly not.
No. 8 West Virginia (-8.5) vs. No. 9 Texas Tech (7 p.m., Wednesday, March 13)
The Red Raiders are a fringe CBI program at best, and they have been noncompetitive in most of their league games this year. That includes a 16-point home loss to the Mountaineers in the first meeting. But Tech lost by just two points in the second matchup, and they lost their last game by just two points to Texas last weekend. Hey, when you are Texas Tech you take comfort in close losses. Bob Huggins is suffering through his worst year in Morgantown. His team can’t shoot, can’t score, and lacks high-end talent. They are 0-6 SU and 1-5 ATS in their last six games and have been one of the worst bets in the sport. But they are gutsy. And they do have some experience, so they should find a way to advance here.
No. 7 Texas (-11) vs. No. 10 TCU (8:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 13)
TCU is one of the worst BCS teams in the country. They went just 2-16 in league play, and opponents have routinely mauled them. Texas is an interesting team. Rick Barnes’ team bumbled its way through December and January, but it was also forced to play without stud point guard Myck Kabongo. He has been back for eight games, and the improvements have been obvious for the Longhorns, who have gone 5-3. This team is solely comprised of sophomores and freshmen and is the least experienced team in the country. But if they get a little confidence the Longhorns could be a fly in the ointment this week.
No. 4 Oklahoma (-1) vs. No. 5 Iowa State (12:30 p.m., Thursday, March 14)
This should be one of the top matchups of the opening games. Oklahoma has four seniors in its rotation, and they are a group that has been waiting for years to bust out of mediocrity. The Sooners have quietly been one of the most consistent teams in the league this year, and they dominated the Cyclones 86-69 in Norman back on March 2. Iowa State has been the opposite of consistent. Iowa State has been exceptional at home this year but a completely different team on the road. Iowa State is almost totally reliant on the three-point shot to generate offense. If they are hitting, they will advance and could win this tournament. But if they are off the mark it will be a short stay for the Cyclones.
No. 3 Oklahoma State (-2.5) vs. No. 6 Baylor (9:30 p.m., Thursday, March 14)
The Bears lost by just two in overtime in Stillwater and beat Oklahoma State at home back in January. And the key matchup here will be savvy senior Pierre Jackson against fantastic freshman Marcus Smart. The two lead guards will dictate the tempo in this game, and I think whoever plays better is going to advance. Oklahoma State can also lean on wings LeBryan Nash and Markel Brown, while Jackson will need someone else to step up. Oklahoma State is clearly the better, more talented team here. But Baylor is playing for its NCAA Tournament life and will be desperate. This one should feature end-to-end action and will be a good one.
2013 Big 12 Tournament picks and betting predictions: There should be a lot of exciting games and some excellent guard play in Kansas City. But it is still too tough to bet against the Jayhawks. I think Kansas will have its hands full with Iowa State in the semifinals – assuming Iowa State can top tricky Oklahoma – and the winner of that game will cut down the nets. If Kansas plays Oklahoma in the semis they will waltz into the finals. While the best action will come at the bottom of the bracket from K-State, Oklahoma State and Baylor, I think whomever emerges from that trio will be too burnt out to stand up to the Jayhawks size in the title game. Chalk another one up for the Jayhawks.
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