2019 Big 12 Tournament Expert Picks with Odds and Betting Predictions
For the first time in 15 years, the Big 12 Tournament will begin without Kansas as the regular-season champions. The Jayhawks had their string of 14 straight regular-season outright or co-champion titles snapped. And they head into the league championship determined to defend last year's tournament crown.
Texas Tech and Kansas State double-teamed the Jayhawks this year. Each team beat Kansas once and ended up sharing the regular-season crown as co-champs, two games ahead of the Jayhawks. Now the Red Raiders and Wildcats will attempt to hold off a bunch of upstarts and potential sleepers, as well as the defending champ, as the two top seeds try to cap the year with an outright title.
The 2019 Big 12 Tournament begins on Wednesday, March 13, and will be held at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. Here is Doc's Sports Big 12 Tournament preview and predictions (odds courtesy of MyBookie.ag):
The Favorite: Texas Tech (+140)
The Red Raiders have clearly been the best team in the Big 12 over the last month. And right now they are playing like one of the best teams in the country. Texas Tech has won nine straight games. They are not just beating teams; they are destroying them. Texas Tech has relied on a stifling defense while winning their last nine by an average of 18.8 points per game. Only two of those last nine wins came by fewer than 12 points, and the Red Raiders have been dismantling people. This isn't a very deep team; they generally rely on just seven players. But they have experience, athleticism and a difference-maker in Jarrett Culver. This team won't beat itself.
The Contender: Kansas State (+350)
The Wildcats have a trio of three-year senior starters - Barry Brown, Kamau Stokes and Dean Wade - that would love nothing more than to ride off into the sunset as Big 12 champs. The core of this team is the same one that played into the Elite Eight of last year's NCAA Tournament, sans Wade. The 6-10 forward is one of the best and most versatile players in the conference. If he is playing at his peak this team will be difficult to beat. Like Texas Tech, Kansas State does it with defense. They are No. 4 in the nation in points allowed. However, Kansas State is not a good shooting team. And if they struggle to knock down shots - or free throws, where they shoot a horrid 66 percent as a team - they could be ripe for an upset.
The Sleeper: Kansas (+450)
Bill Self wasn't able to pull yet another rabbit out of his hat and guide this overhauled team to another regular-season title. That doesn't mean they are devoid of talent. Dedric Lawson is one of the best forwards in the country and averages 19 points and 10.6 rebounds. However, Kansas had its second-leading scorer quit, and its third-leading scorer was lost to injury in December. Freshmen Devon Dotson and Quentin Grimes are good players with a lot of potential. But they have been asked to do too much, too quickly and their erratic play is part of Kansas' problems.
The Spoiler: Iowa State (+600)
The Cyclones have been fool's gold for bettors over the last month. They have lost six of their last eight games - with several of the losses ugly blowouts - and they have battled injuries, suspensions and distractions down the stretch. At one point this team looked like a contender for the league crown. Now they look like a group that can't walk and chew gum at the same time. If Iowa State can survive a quarterfinal matchup with Baylor they could start to build some momentum heading into a matchup with Kansas State in the semis. The Cyclones lost to the Wildcats by one point at home back in January and then won by 14 in the rematch a month later.
Bubble Team To Watch: Texas (+2000)
In my opinion there is no way that Texas should be on the NCAA Tournament bubble. This team is 16-15 overall, they had a losing record in Big 12 play, and their two best wins (North Carolina, Purdue) came three months ago. These guys stink. But some in the bobblehead media - including rampant fraud Joe Lunardi - have this team in the field. Leading scorer Kerwin Roach is coming back after a five-game suspension. And the Longhorns have an opening-round game against a shaky Kansas team that Texas throttled once already this year. Texas is physically gifted. But Shaka Smart is not a good coach, and this team doesn't shoot the ball well enough to be considered a real threat in this tournament.
Early-Round Matchup To Watch:
No. 4 Baylor (-4) vs. No. 5 Iowa State (2:30 p.m., Thursday, March 14)
Good luck trying to figure out which one of these teams is going to show up. Baylor has been - by far - the biggest overachievers in the country this season. Yet they have lost three in a row, and they may be playing without their most important player, Makai Mason. Mason missed the regular-season finale at Kansas, has missed three games in the past month, and he's generally been injury-riddled the whole season. Mason is questionable for Thursday. Baylor beat Iowa State twice in the regular season. Can they really beat the Cyclones three times? Iowa State is a dangerous team, for good or ill, in this field. And Baylor may just be the last team that they would want to face in a spot like this.
2019 Big 12 Conference Tournament Predictions: There is no way to bet against Texas Tech right now. They look like Virginia-lite, playing world-class defense while also executing at a high level on offense. Beyond their physical advantages, the Red Raiders also have a great draw. They will play the winner of the Oklahoma-West Virginia game on Thursday evening. That means they avoid the noon tip (Kansas State does not) and they get a team playing its second game in two days. If the Red Raiders win they will face either Kansas or Texas, two teams that look like they are on their last legs, in the semifinals. If the Red Raiders make the finals, I think the only team that can beat them is Kansas State. But I don't trust K-State's shooting enough to think they will win three in a row. I like the Red Raiders to keep rolling.
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 10 of 12 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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