Where might we look for a Big 12 tournament futures pick now that Kansas has won the regular-season title, again? This week's Big 12 Conference tournament looks more wide-open than most conference tournaments.
Kansas is the top seed for this Big 12 tournament, having just won its 11th straight Big 12 regular-season title, going 13-5 in conference play. The Jayhawks stumbled here and there, and finished the season by going 3-3 SU, 1-5 ATS over their last five games, but in the end no one else could overtake them.
Iowa State and Oklahoma tied for second in the Big 12 at 12-6; the Cyclones, the defending tournament champions, earned the two seed, the Sooners the three.
Baylor and West Virginia tied for fourth place at 11-7; the Bears are the four seed, the Mountaineers the five.
Texas, Oklahoma State and Kansas State tied for sixth place, all at 8-10; the Cowboys are the six seed, which saves them a game, because the seventh-seeded Longhorns and eighth-seeded Wildcats both have to play first-round games on Wednesday, against ninth-seeded TCU and 10th-seeded Texas Tech.
The nicest surprise of this season in the Big 12 was probably either Baylor or West Virginia. Both teams seemed headed for lower-division finished in the conference this season, but instead both went 11-7 and appear headed for the NCAA tournament. The Bears won five of their last six games and picked up three victories against the three teams that finished above them in the conference standings, while the Mountaineers won four of their last six, beat Kansas and Oklahoma and pushed the Jayhawks to overtime in Lawrence.
On the other end of the scale the biggest disappointment in the Big 12 this season was undoubtedly Texas, which actually began this season as the favorite to win the conference, then struggled through a pair of four-game conference losing streaks, losing a bunch of close ones, and won't even make the NCAA tournament.
As of earlier this week Kansas topped Bovada's Big 12 tournament board at NCAA Basketball odds of 5/2. Iowa State and Oklahoma sat as co-second choices at 7/2, while Baylor was the fourth choice at 5/1.
West Virginia came next at 15/2, followed by Texas at 10/1 and Oklahoma State at 12/1. The prices then jumped to 28/1 on Kansas State, 50/1 on TCU and 100/1 on Texas Tech.
Kansas State and TCU open the festivities Wednesday night with the eight-vs.-nine game, followed by Texas and Texas Tech in the seven-vs.-10 game.
Thursday Baylor and West Virginia meet for the four-five game; top-seeded Kansas takes on either the Wildcats or the Horned Frogs; second-seeded Iowa State plays either the Longhorns or the Red Raiders; and Oklahoma and Oklahoma State clash in the three-vs.-six contest.
Thursday's winners will meet in the semifinals on Friday, and the Big 12 championship game will be played Saturday.
Our Big 12 Tournament Bet
Kansas is the favorite to win this tournament, and probably deservedly so, but we didn't like what we saw from the Jayhawks in losses at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia and at Kansas State. They also struggled in a couple of games we thought they should have won more handily. So we just can't justify taking NCAA Basketball odds Rock Chalk at just 5/2.
Iowa State and Oklahoma appear headed for a semifinals clash on Friday, but both those teams have flaws, too, and too much to ignore at just 7/2. And while Baylor won five of its last six games it also struggled to beat lowly Texas Tech twice in the last month.
Instead, for our value NCAA Basketball pick on the Big 12 tournament, we look to Austin, where the most disappointing team in the conference resides. We liked Texas to win the Big 12 back before this season started. In fact, we played the Longhorns on an NCAA tournament futures bet. That's probably dead money by now. But in thinking that Texas should win its tournament opener Wednesday, and is fully capable of giving the Cyclones another tough contest Thursday, we could own the 'Horns at 10/1 heading into a semifinal bout against either Oklahoma or Oklahoma State on Friday. And we'd be willing to take our chances from there.