Big 12 Tournament Preview
Although Kansas has dominated the Big 12 during the regular season, winning 14 straight titles, the Jayhawks have not always had a lot of success when it comes to the conference tournament. Instead, it’s been Iowa State that has risen to the occasion lately.
The Cyclones have won three of the last four Big 12 conference tournaments, but no one is giving them much of a chance this time. They are the one team that is considered out of contention for an NCAA Tournament bid with a 4-14 record in conference and have the longest odds on the board.
With Iowa State seemingly out of the picture, can Kansas erase some of its recent woes at this tournament? Or will another team emerge and help itself in a big way on Selection Sunday?
Tune into ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNU for live television coverage of the Big 12 Tournament from Wednesday, March 7 – Saturday, March 10, 2018 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
Big 12 Tournament Betting Odds
West Virginia +355
Texas Tech +380
Kansas State +1000
Oklahoma State +2350
Iowa State +10000
(Odds courtesy of Bookmaker.eu)
It was rocky for a while, but Kansas eventually did enough to win another Big 12 regular season title. However, this was the least convincing run we have seen out of the Jayhawks in quite some time. While the offense is great, defensive woes have kept this team from really taking off. Bill Self is hoping that doesn’t happen again.
Many were expecting this to be West Virginia’s year. The Mountaineers had a superstar in Jevon Carter and won 15 straight after dropping their season opener. Road woes undermined this team though, as they dropped games to bottom feeders Iowa State and Texas away from Morgantown.
Texas Tech has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. The Red Raiders have the third-best defense in the country according to Ken Pomeroy, and they looked like they could seriously usurp Kansas. Unfortunately, Texas Tech lost four of its last five to close out the season, but it did finish with the Big 12’s No. 2 seed.
Snatching away Jamie Dixon from Pittsburgh continues to pay huge dividends for TCU. The Horned Frogs won the NIT in their first season under Dixon last year, and they will be dancing this year. They have the most efficient offense in the conference according to Pomeroy.
Kansas State is a solid all-around team led by Dean Wade. Wade is one of the more dangerous players in the conference in that his size and range makes him tough to guard. He is 6’10 and hitting 42.7 percent of his three-pointers on the season. Wade can take over a game and few teams have actually shut him down.
It didn’t look like Baylor would have a chance to make the NCAA Tournament after a 2-7 start in conference play, but the Bears are 6-3 against Big 12 foes since then. They have talented big men like Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. and Terry Matson and can control the paint.
Trae Young may not end up winning the Naismith Award, but he has been pivotal in Oklahoma’s turnaround. However, he has seriously cooled off after a very hot start. Young has shot better than 35 percent just once in his last five games. If he isn’t shooting well, Oklahoma is likely to go down.
Texas’ hopes in the Big 12 Tournament depend on the conference’s other extremely talented freshman, Mohamed Bamba. Bamba has lived up to the hype and has gotten the chance to shine defensively under Shaka Smart. However, his status is in question after a toe injury kept him out of the last two games.
Although Oklahoma State picked up some nice wins in conference, many still consider the Cowboys a longshot to make it to the NCAA Tournament. They will need to knock off in-state rival Oklahoma in the first round and upset Kansas in the quarterfinals to punch their ticket.
It’s been a good run for Iowa State, but it’s hard to see the Cyclones winning four in four days. They failed to win a conference road game this season and don’t have the stars that led them on their recent run.
Expert ATS Picks
Those are juicy odds on the Jayhawks to win it all, but my money is on either Texas Tech or TCU. Both teams are well-coached and have not had the lapses that Kansas and West Virginia have had this year.
Related: Click here for a free printable March Madness bracket.
Big East Tournament Preview
Move over Big Ten, the marquee attraction is coming to the Big Apple. For the last 35 years, the Big East has called New York home. We have seen plenty of historic games here over the years as some of the most storied programs in the country have played in front of a packed house at MSG. Some of the names have changed, but the level of basketball on display is still incredible.
Villanova enters the Big East Tournament as the favorite, having made it to the championship game in each of the last three seasons. However, this is a tournament where we have seen plenty of upsets over the years.
Tune into FOX and FS1 for live television coverage of the Big East Tournament from Wednesday, March 7 – Saturday, March 10, 2018 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.
Big East Tournament Betting Odds
Seton Hall +800
St. John’s +5000
(Odds courtesy of Bookmaker.eu)
Xavier might be the No. 1 seed heading into the Big East Tournament, but it is the second-favorite to take down the title. The Musketeers were hammered in both of their meetings against the Wildcats this season, giving oddsmakers cause for pause when considering their chances. Its defense has just been unable to stop Villanova, who lit up Xavier for 89 and 95 points.
Speaking of the Wildcats, Nova was ranked No. 1 in the nation for much of the season. However, the team dropped three of its last eight games to take a slight dip and will be the No. 2 seed in the tournament. There’s no denying that this is one of the most talented teams in the nation, with Naismith Award contender Jalen Brunson leading the way.
Five teams finished in the middle of the pack in the Big East, all coming within a game of each other.
Seton Hall is the No. 3 seed as the result of a better head-to-head record than Creighton and Providence. The Pirates started strong this season, but a four-game losing streak left them out of contention for the conference title. Still, this team will be a tough out with Angel Delgado patrolling the paint.
Creighton’s Marcus Foster is one of the top guards in the conference and makes this team one to keep an eye on. Foster led the Bluejays to an upset of Villanova just a few weeks ago, and he averages over 20 PPG on one of the nation’s top offenses.
Even though Butler went just 9-9 in conference play, people have jumped on the Bulldogs in this tournament. Butler is the shortest favorite of all the teams in this tier. Kelan Martin is a big reason for that, and he was recently named one of the three unanimous First Team All-Big East selections.
Despite being the only team to beat both Villanova and Xavier this year, not many are high on Providence’s chances entering the tournament. The Friars aren’t a great shooting team and the advanced metrics say that this team has gotten incredibly lucky this season.
Marquette has the misfortune of having to play in the first round despite finishing 9-9. That extra game could be a godsend though as it gives the Golden Eagles another shot to get a win they desperately need to improve their tournament resume.
For Georgetown, St. John’s, and Depaul, this is the season. All three teams will need to win the tournament to get an NCAA Tournament bid, although the Hoyas are still likely to get to a postseason tournament thanks to an incredibly soft non-conference schedule.
The most interesting team in this group is St. John’s. The Red Storm lost their first 11 conference games before inexplicably knocking off Duke and Villanova in back-to-back weeks in early February. They received a jolt of confidence after those two victories and won five of their last eight games.
Expert ATS Picks
Villanova is my pick to win the tournament, but there is value in Providence too. Although the advanced numbers don’t like the Friars, they have a favorable draw and have already knocked off the Wildcats and the Musketeers before.
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