2020 Big 12 Tournament Predictions and Betting Odds
After having one of the most incredible streaks in sports - Kansas' consecutive regular season championships - snapped last year, the Jayhawks find themselves back where they belong as the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
Kansas is the favorite to cut down the nets this weekend, something they've done twice in the last six years. Kansas has two other finals appearances during that time period and are brutally tough out in this tournament. That doesn't mean they are unbeatable, though, and the Big 12 features more than enough teams capable of derailing the Kansas title train.
The 2020 Big 12 Tournament begins on Wednesday, March 11, and will be held at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. Here is Doc's Sports Big 12 Tournament preview and predictions:
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The Favorite: Kansas (-150)
Bill Self is a genius. And he has taken a Jayhawks team that was shaky and unsteady in November and December and turned them into a juggernaut heading into March. Kansas has won 16 straight games and haven't lost since Jan. 11. That's not to say that Kansas hasn't been tested. They've had three wins by four points or less in the last two weeks. Sophomore Devon Dotson may be the best point guard in the country, and Udoka Azubuike is the best center in the nation. They are surrounded by a talented core that is as versatile as it is tenacious. Kansas is a Top 10 defensive team and, thanks in part to Azubuike's 75 percent field goal clip, No. 9 in the country in shooting. Kansas is also 19-12 against the spread in their 31 games, and 7-2 ATS in their last nine, so this team has been even better than their usually lofty expectations.
The Contender: Baylor (+275)
The Bears are hoping that they didn't peak too early. Baylor vaulted to No. 1 in the country in late January and held the top perch for a full month into late February. But they dropped three of their last five regular season games and have had some injury issues creep up on them. Junior guard Mark Vital has been in and out of the starting lineup, and forward Tristan Clark is questionable for the postseason. Baylor's depth, length and versatility has been their major source of strength. That, and stellar backcourt play from Jared Butler, Davion Mitchell, MaCio Teague and Devonte Bandoo. The Bears are legit. And their 2-3 zone can be tough for opponents to decode. Assuming they don't wear down and they are near full strength, this team is a great value play to cut down the nets.
The Sleeper: Texas Tech (+950)
Much like Virginia in the ACC, Texas Tech has done an incredible job this season despite losing a wealth of talent and experience from last year's national runner-up. The wheels have started to come off over the last month, though. Texas Tech has lost four straight heading and they are just 2-5 straight up over the last seven games. That doesn't mean the Red Raiders aren't still plenty dangerous. They can defend with the best of them. Davide Moretti is a big shot maker. And guys like Chris Clarke and Jahmi'us Ramsey are versatile enough to beat teams on both ends. The Red Raiders, once seemingly a lock for the NCAA Tournament, have a huge quarterfinal game against fellow bubble team Texas to start Thursday's slate. If Tech wins that game, they will be playing with house money against Kansas in the semis on Friday. They lost to the Jayhawks twice this year by a combined seven points, and I'm sure they would love a third crack at KU.
The Spoiler: West Virginia (+625)
At one point in this season, the Mountaineers were 16-3, in the Top 15, and stalking the teams at the top of the conference. Their offensive limitations, and a road heavy portion of the schedule, finally caught up with them, though, and from Feb. 6-Feb. 29 they went just 1-6 and became an afterthought both in the league and nationally. But West Virginia has been incredible in the Big 12 Tournament. They've won at least two games in this tourney in each of the last four years, and they've made it to the finals three of the last four years. You can't count out a team that plays with the sheer desperation that WVU brings to the court every time they lace them up.
Early Round Matchup To Watch:
No. 3 Oklahoma (+3) vs. No. 6 West Virginia (8 p.m., Thursday, March 12)
Oklahoma finished in a four-way tie for third place. Yet thanks to tiebreakers they managed to steal the No. 3 seed. Lon Kruger's squad actually swept West Virginia this year, beating hem by 11 points on the road just two Saturdays ago. OU has a pair of stellar shooters in Austin Reaves and Brady Manek. And they are kind of the antithesis of WVU in that they don't really count on contributions from their bench. OU has been up and down, though, and they are just 8-9 SU in their last 17 games. WVU pulled an upset over the Sooners last year in the first round. But these two teams have gone 6-6 against one another over the last five years, and there isn't a measurable difference between the talent of the players and coaches on both sidelines.
2020 Big 12 Conference Tournament Predictions: This one really is Kansas' tournament to lose. They are clearly the best team in this league, and they have had a ton of success in this tournament. If they hold off Oklahoma State in the quarters, I think that Kansas has the more favorable semifinal matchup compared to No. 2 seed Baylor. WVU is always difficult to discount because they've had so much success in this tourney. However, I actually think that No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Baylor are on a collision course for the tourney title. Kansas is in a great groove, though, and I think that they will manage to earn another league title for the trophy case.
Robert Ferringo is a member of the Basketball Writer's Association of America and a professional sports handicapper for Doc's Sports. He is considered one of the best college basketball handicappers in the country and has posted 11 of 13 winning seasons. He is looking for a monster March run and will have an 8-Unit Conference Tournament Game of the Year this week. You can sign up for his college basketball picks and get more information here.
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