By Shane Bidwell
There is just over a week left until conference tournament play begins. One of the most riveting conference tournaments this year is in the Big 12. They are loaded from top to bottom so lets take a closer look at the contenders for their tournament.
Bill Self’s squad is playing great basketball at the moment and is looking to carry that momentum into the conference tournament. After winning their 14th straight Big 12 regular season title the Jayhawks are the team to beat this year. Senior guard Devonte’ Graham is averaging about 18 PPG and has been playing great ball down the stretch of games. This team will be hard to beat, and with a one seed in sight for the NCAA Tournament, look for these guys to pull out all the stops to run through the Big 12.
Texas Tech Red Raiders
Tech has been one of the bigger surprises in college hoops this year, and could give the Jayhawks a run for their money. Fresh off four straight losses Keenan Evans and company are looking to right the ship, and improve upon their tournament stock. The Red Raiders posses a deadly defense coupled with three different players averaging double figures in scoring. If the Red Raiders can get back to their winning ways they could pose a threat to Kansas… but it will all depend on if they can stay injury free.
West Virginia Mountaineers
“Press Virginia” is currently 17th in country with just over 8 steals pregame. Their suffocating D paired with Jevon Carter shooting the three ball at nearly a 40% clip makes this team lethal heading into the conference tournament. In the past, WVU has struggled playing back to back days and if this issue is corrected it’s very possible the Mountaineers can make a deep run. Momentum is what this teams thrives on, and a solid showing in the conference tournament could present better luck come late March.
TCU Horned Frogs
The Frogs have been up and down throughout the year, but have proven they can compete with the best of them. Anchored by senior forward Vladimir Brodziansky, TCU’s offensive loves to push transition and score lots of points. If TCU can force turnovers and run the floor they become a team nobody will want to see in this tournament. I see them advancing to at least the semis, and once they are there anything can happen!
Oklahoma has been in a slump lately, but they should never be counted so long as the electric freshman Trae Young is suiting up for the Sooners. Oklahoma takes care of business at home boasting a 12-2 record but is downright abysmal on the road, winning just two games away from Norman. If Trae Young can get back to his old style of play before the Sooners current slump, then the boys in red could string together some wins and get off the bubble, hopefully solidifying their tournament spot. I say they need at least 2 wins in the Big 12 tourney, to have a shot of making the filed of 64.