Big 12 Tournament Favorites
Sure, the Kansas Jayhawks just won their 10th consecutive Big 12 regular season title and enter the postseason tournament ranked No. 10 by both the AP and coaches. But with one of the Jayhawks' star players sidelined for at least a couple of weeks, all signs point to a wide-open conference tourney this week.
Proceedings begin Wednesday at Kansas City's Sprint Center with the No. 7-10 seeds battling to see who goes on to face No. 1 Kansas and No. 2 Oklahoma on Thursday. Both of Wednesday's contests are available on the Big 12 Network as well as ESPN3.
Even before the injury to KU center Joel Embiid, there were signs this wasn't going to be a breeze for Kansas. The 7-foot freshman battled knee trouble about midway through the Big 12 slate and missed a game vs. TCU on Feb 15.
Embiid, the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, returned, but then sat out the Jayhawks' final two regular season games. He has been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back, and the earliest he sees the floor again would be in the Sweet 16, should Kansas make it that far.
Lets focus on another Big 12 matchup that could have title implications in this conference's tournament.
Smart, Cowboys Collide With Red Raiders
By all accounts, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are in the NCAA Tournament despite their 8-10 conference record and rather lackluster 1-5 mark against top 25 teams in the latest RPI. Travis Ford, however, probably isn't relying on the predictions of Joe Lunardi and others as he prepares his crew to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders in a clash of 8/9 seeds.
The third meeting of the season between the two tips a little past 7 PM (ET), with the Cowboys 9 point chalk. SBR's live college basketball odds will have the total as soon as it is released.
Oklahoma State (20-11 straight up, 12-15 against the spread) looked every bit like a top seed in the NCAA Tournament early, firing out of the gate 12-1 on the non-conference schedule and rising as high as fifth in the AP. Even when the Cowboys dropped two of their first five Big 12 matches -- by a total of 5 points on the road at Kansas State and Kansas -- everything still looked fine. But then came a 7-game skid that included Marcus Smart's infamous incident with a Red Raiders fan during a 65-61 loss. That resulted in a 3-game suspension for Smart and, quite frankly, having witnessed the behavior of many fans in Lubbock, Smart's a hero of mine.
The Cowboys did get revenge for that setback to Texas Tech (14-17 SU, 16-12 ATS) when the Red Raiders were in Stillwater Feb. 22, Smart's double-double helping OSU easily cover a 7 point spread in the 84-62 rout. Tech just pulled out of its own 6-game skid with a 59-53 upset of Texas in the regular season finale.
My pick: Oklahoma State -9