The best conference this season was the Big 12 and it was my personal favorite to watch. I wish I had more time to give this tourney preview justice, but alas - I am a humble auditor.
Revised All-Conference Selections:
Best call(s): Despite their hot start to the season (and top-5 overall ranking), I nailed Oklahoma in third place. The three-headed backcourt of Hield, Cousins, and Woodard cooled off a bit toward the end of the year, and the Sooners didn’t have enough inside scoring to keep pace with Kansas. I was also rightfully high on Texas and the Shaka Smart regime; while some people looked at the collection of plodding bigs on the roster and wondered how Smart would make that work, sometimes you just need to admit that a guy can coach the hell out of the sport, no matter the circumstances. Finally, I hit on Hield as POY – that was a hotly-debated topic in the preseason between Hield, Niang, and Ellis.
Worst call(s): I went with a gutsy (read: stupid) call of not picking Kansas. The fact is they’ve now won 13 conference titles in a row (shared a couple of them, it should be noted!), and not placing them first was a bit of a gaffe. Iowa State didn’t come together under Prohm the way we hoped they would, but a lot of that blame can lie with Naz Long’s injury and the major lack of depth that resulted. West Virginia was also vastly underrated, as Huggins geared up the Press Virginia style to the highest degree – the Mountaineers were 2nd in the country in forcing turnovers, 351st in opponent free throw rate (so many fouls…), 1st in offensive rebounding percentage, and 5th in their own free throw rate (attack attack attack, press, and then attack some more).
Who I want to win: My love for Buddy Hield has me rooting for the Sooners. I also love what Huggins has done with WV; they're guards are outstanding alongside big Devin Williams. And of course, everyone loves the Clones led by Monte Morris and Georges Niang.
Who I think will win: The Evil Empire will win the tournament. The Chickenhawks are just too good and too deep. Shoot.
Chance to make a run: It wouldn't shock me to see Texas win the Big 12 Tourney. Shaka is a great coach and the Horns can hang with anyone in the conference. The Clones are liable to get hot as well, but they likely tucker out by the second round (they ain't too deep). In the NCAA Tournament, Kansas and Oklahoma both have title hopes while the Final Four is an attainable goal for the Mountaineers. The Longhorns, Bears, and Clones all will look to make Sweet 16 and Elite 8 runs. Texas Tech will lose first round.
How it plays out:
(8) Kansas State defeats (9) Oklahoma State
(7) Texas Tech defeats (10) TCU
(4) Texas defeats (5) Baylor (and Shaka coaches circles around Scott Drew)
(1) Kansas defeats (8) Kansas State
(2) West Virginia defeats (7) Texas Tech
(3) Oklahoma defeats (6) Iowa State
(1) Kansas defeats (4) Texas
(3) Oklahoma defeats (2) West Virginia
(1) Kansas defeats (3) Oklahoma in the 3rd edition of what's sure to be yet another spectacle
Kansas earns the top seed, OU ends up a 2-seed (though I think they deserve a 1). WV gets a 3-seed, Texas a 5, Iowa State a 6, Baylor a 7, and Tech a 10. Big 12 goes deep in the Tourney except for the Red Raiders.