By Nash Walker
The Big 12 produce a monstrous surprise when Kansas finally gave up the regular season title to a share of Kansas State and Texas Tech. After 15 long years, finally, some parity at the top.
KU settled for the three spot and will face Texas in the Quarterfinals. Baylor and Iowa State will face off in the always interesting 4-5 seed matchup, and the bottom 4 is rounded out by TCU, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and West Virginia, who will all play in on Wednesday.
Tournament winner: Kansas State Wildcats (24-7, 14-4).
For just the second time in program history, K-State grabbed a share of the Big 12 after an incredible season under head coach Bruce Weber. The biggest question heading into Wednesday is the health of Dean Wade. The senior forward is questionable with a foot injury.
He is the team leader in rebounds, 3 point and field goal percentage, and is second to Barry Brown Jr. in points per game with 12.9. The duo have been dominant for the Wildcats this season, combining for almost 28 points per game in the starting unit. Kamau Stokes and Xavier Sneed round out the scoring leaders, each posting 10 or more per game.
The Wildcats also have an advantage as the 1-seed, and will avoid playing Texas Tech or Kansas until the Championship Round.
Sleeper: Iowa State Cyclones (20-11, 9-9).
The number one scoring offense in the Big 12 draws a first round matchup with Baylor on Thursday- a that they have struggled against this season. If Iowa State can find a way past the Bears, there is reason to believe they can outscore Kansas State in the Semis, especially if Dean Wade is on the bench for the Wildcats. Iowa State upset K-State Feb. 16 on the road, and lost to them at home by one earlier in the season. Do not be surprised if the Cyclones win a few games and take the Big 12.
Team to watch: Kansas Jayhawks (23-8, 12-6)
Yes, the Jayhawks gave away the conference, but this is still a Bill Self-led squad that is always dangerous come March. Memphis transfer Dedric Lawson is averaging nearly 20 and 10 on the season, and leads the Big 12 in scoring. Kansas has won three of their last four, including a win over Kansas State. It will be interesting to see how the Jayhawks fare as a non-1 seed this time around.
Player to watch: Jarrett Culver, Texas Tech.
Texas Tech is arguably the hottest team entering the Big 12 tournament, winning their last nine games and 11 of their last 12. The catalyst has been Sophomore Guard Jarrett Culver, who averages 18.3 points and also grabs 6.2 rebounds per game. This kid can get to the basket with force. Watch out for the 6’5, 195 pound Culver to dominate, starting with Texas on Thursday night.
Edited by Garrett Jones | firstname.lastname@example.org