Big 12 Tournament Preview

12 Mar

Big 12

March 13-16

Favorite(s)-Kansas (26-5 14-4), Kansas State (25-6 14-4)

The Jayhawks have ruled the Big 12 for what seems like forever, and again they are the conference’s top seed.  Kansas also has the real possibility of securing a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Kansas is balanced (four guys in double figures) and a veteran squad with three of their top scorers, Elijah Johnson, Jeff Withey and Travis Releford, are seniors.  The Jayhawks are going to be tough to knock off the throne they’ve become so accustomed to.

Kansas State might be Kansas’ stiffest competition for the title.  The Wildcats match up well with their in-state rivals with the veteran leadership of seniors of Rodney McGruder and Jordan Henriquez.  They also have the depth to keep up with Kansas, having 8 guys averaging over 14 minutes and despite only having two players in double figures, McGruder (15.1) and Angel Rodriguez at 11.5 the team scores nearly 70 points a game.

Contender(s)-Oklahoma State (23-7 13-5)

The 3rd seeded Cowboys boast one of the biggest wins of the year, a win over Kansas in Lawrence ending the Jayhawks’ 33-game home winning streak.  They nearly pulled off a season sweep of Kansas, falling 68-67 in double overtime.  Oklahoma State is one of the more athletic teams in the conference with the trio of Marcus Smart, LeBryan Nash and Markel Brown averaging 44.8 points, 14.4 rebounds and 8.5 assists.  The Cowboys also finished the regular season strong going 11-2 in their last 13 games.

Team Likely to pull an upset-Iowa State (21-10 11-7)

Iowa State has a prolific offense, averaging over 80 points per game, but they also rebound very well and are a top 20 team in that category and they share the wealth with the basketball with over 16 assists a game.  The Cyclones are as deep and balanced as any team in the country with five guys averaging 10 points and a sixth at 9.3.  The Cyclones have beaten Kansas State and Oklahoma while losing to Kansas twice in overtime.

3 Key Players-Ben McLemore-Kansas, Marcus Smart-Oklahoma State, Rodney McGruder-Kansas State

Kansas’ redshirt freshman, McLemore has been a revelation of athleticism, highlights and big plays in big games for the Jayhawks.  He has become one of the country’s must-watch players every night because you don’t know what he will do or when he will take over.  McLemore’s 16.7 points and 5.3 rebounds along with his other attributes have put him in the conversation for the #1 pick in the NBA draft.  Another thing people like about his game is how he plays in the big games, like his 33 in a win over Iowa State and 30 and 7 in a win over Kansas State.

Battling McLemore for conference newcomer and player of the year is Oklahoma State’s freshman guard Marcus Smart.  He has burst on the scene in a big way with his 15.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.0 steals per game.  In the Cowboys’ marquee win over Kansas in Lawrence, Smart finished with 25 points 9 rebounds 3 assists and 5 steals.  If Oklahoma State is going to win the Big 12 Tournament it will be with the ball in the hands of its freshman star.

Kansas State may be the team with the best chance to end Kansas’ reign in the Big 12 and if they do it will be because of senior guard Rodney McGruder.  His leadership and toughness are something the rest of the team feeds off of and his 15.1 points and 5.2 rebounds lead the team.

 

2013 BIG 12 TOURNAMENT

March 13-16 Kansas City, MO

MARCH 13

FIRST ROUND

#8 West Virginia vs. #9 Texas Tech

#7 Texas vs. #10 TCU

MARCH 14

QUARTERFINALS

#4 Oklahoma vs. #5 Iowa State

#1 Kansas vs. #8/9

#3 Oklahoma State vs. #6 Baylor

#2 Kansas State vs. #7/10

MARCH 15

SEMIFINALS

1.

2.

MARCH 16

CHAMPIONSHIP

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