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Big 12 March Madness Preview

Jeff Jacobsen

Jeff Jacobsen

Michael Anderson and Allen Taylor

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After looking into this year’s NCAA Tournament, it looks like six Big 12 teams will represent the conference in the tournament. Only four teams will not compete, unless Texas Tech, TCU, Oklahoma, or Texas can make a run in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City. The teams who should receive bids are: Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma State, and Kansas State.

Kansas Jayhawks, a perennial Big 12 juggernaut, extended their streak of regular season championships to 13 straight this season. For the first time in five years, Kansas does not have the post presence of Perry Ellis. Ellis graduated in the spring of 2016, and is currently playing professionally in Europe. Still, the Jayhawks retain three members of their starting lineup, including guards Frank Mason III and Devonte Graham. Head coach Bill Self recruited well over the past few years, and Carlton Bragg and Landen Lucas stepped into major roles. Kansas is talented, and the highlight of the incoming talent on the Jayhawk’s roster is Josh Jackson. Jackson is a versatile player who was a top ten recruit in high school. He will be a one-and-done player, who leaves college after one year for the NBA, but hopes to leave his legacy in Lawrence with a championship.

Prediction: Kansas reaches Final Four, but loses in National Semifinal.

The West Virginia Mountaineers had a very disappointing postseason in 2016. The team had one of its best regular seasons in recent history, only to be upset by Stephen F. Austin in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Mountaineers, led by Jevon Carter and Nathan Adrian, are hungry to show the country they have guts and make a deep run into the Tournament this year.

Prediction: Loses in Sweet 16

The Baylor Bears, led by head coach Scott Drew, had the difficult task of replacing the team’s leading scorer, assist leader, and leading rebounder. Tauren Prince, Rico Gathers, and Lester Medford were all key members of the Baylor team last year, and the Bears will need Johnathan Motley live up to his massive expectations if they want to continue their success on the court. After a disappointing first round loss in the NCAA Tournament to Yale, the Bears are hungry to show the country that they are the real deal this year. It will not be easy, but if Johnathan Motley can stay healthy, look for the Baylor Bears to make some noise in the Big Dance.

Prediction: Loses in Elite 8

Iowa State is in the second year of Steve Prohm’s tenure in Ames. Year one was successful, as the Cyclones were able to advance to the Sweet 16, but Iowa State lost Georges Niang, a key member of the Cyclone roster. Unlike Kansas, Iowa State was not able to recruit talent to suitably replace what they lost. Nazareth Mitrou-Long returned this season after grayshirting all last season, taking a medical leave. Also they are returning star point guard Monte Morris. Morris has a versatile skill set, as he is able to drive, shoot, defend, and pass. Deonte Burton also returns, and is the only member of the ISU starting lineup who is over 6’7”. The Cyclones could make some noise this March, but fans should not be expecting anything spectacular.

Prediction: Loses in Sweet 16

Oklahoma State had an awesome end to their season, after beginning Big 12 play with six consecutive losses. The Pokes ended their conference season with a 10-8 record, placing fifth. Oklahoma State is led by guards Jawun Evans and Jeffrey Carroll, and matches up well with any team, as long as their opponent does not have a dominant post.

Prediction: Loses in Round of 32

Kansas State will be the final team from the conference to qualify for the NCAA Tournament. Bruce Weber returns this season, despite his inability to make the NCAA Tournament the past two years. He lost guard Marcus Foster last season, and Foster has emerged as a star at Creighton. Weber has lost other pieces on his roster as well; Angel Rodriguez transferred to Miami two years ago and led Miami (FL) to the Sweet Sixteen. Kansas State is a solid team, but will not overwhelm any team.

Prediction: Loses in Round of 64

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The student news site of Fort Worth Country Day
Big 12 March Madness Preview