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It’s one of the best weeks of the year in college basketball. Conference tournaments are the best because we get to see one the best teams in the conference duke it out on a neutral floor.
For many, the Big 12 has been the best conference in college basketball this season. There are six teams that are locks for the NCAA tournament with Oklahoma needing a couple wins to get on the right side of the bubble. Kansas and Baylor were the co-conference champs. We saw a resurgent Texas Tech program and TCU had it’s best season with Jamie Dixon at the helm. It will be another fun week of hoops in Kansas City, Missouri.
Let’s break it all down.
Odds to win Big 12 Tournament from DraftKings Sportsbook:
Texas Tech +340
Iowa State +5000
Kansas State +8000
West Virginia +13000
The Favorites: Kansas
The Jayhawks reigned supremacy over the Big 12 once again. They have the player of the year in Ochai Ogbaji (19.8 ppg), who also leads the club in three point percentage converting at an 41.9 percent clip from beyond the arc. Kansas also has one of the breakout stars of college hoops in Christian Braun (14 ppg). Big man David McCormack (10.1 ppg) and Jalen Wilson average double figures. Kansas has won six out of it’s last eight and they have the most talent in this league. Kansas should cut down the nets at the end of the weekend and punch in their one seed status.
Co-favorite: Baylor +200
Baylor lost a pair of All-American guards this off-season and star center (and leading rebounder) Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua - and yet won the Big 12 regular season title. Scott Drew has officially built a juggernaut in Waco.
Everything Baylor does runs through James Akinjo. Baylor has the more quad wins than any other school in the country. A trip to the final could guarantee them a one seed.
When Baylor is fully healthy, they are one of the best teams in the country. Baylor has a slightly tougher road than co-favorite Kansas, with a potential semifinal matchup with Texas Tech - which beat them twice this season - in round two.
Because of it, I think it’s just a slight to their value.
Best Value: TCU (+2000)
The ceiling of TCU can push them to new heights in the Big 12 Tournament. TCU swept Texas Tech and has a double digit home win against Kansas. Mike Miles is a stud averaging 15.1 points per game. TCU doesn’t shoot the ball well but they rank second in the country in offensive rebounding percentage and they rank in the top 25 in defensive efficiency. I think they have a chance to give Kansas a run for their money if they can get past Texas in the quarterfinal.
Stay Away: Texas +550
Theoretically, this could be the time Texas finally breaks out. With those odds I wouldn’t bet on it. Texas was a consensus Top 10 team going into the season, but just haven’t shown it. Marcus Carr hasn’t been great at the point guard position, as his numbers have dipped across the board since transferring in from Minnesota. They really don’t have that go to guy, with Timmy Allen, a 12-point per game scorer who shoots just 26 percent from three most closely fitting that bill. Not ideal. They are bunch of B- to B+ players that have not been able to mesh all year. Andrew Jones is the guy to watch. The sixth year senior can get hot from three to take over games. Outside of Jones Texas has shot pretty horribly as a team. I can’t trust this team.
The Pick: Texas Tech (+340)
I haven't talked about them to this point, but there isn’t a team I trust more on short rest than the Red Raiders. When this team has their backs against the wall, they fight like Billy the Kid. The Red Raiders own the best ATS record in the conference at 20-11, and to its credit, have picked up big, quality wins against good teams, all while juggling a lineup where stars Terrence Shannon and Kevin McCullar have missed time with injury.
Texas Tech ranks first in the country in defensive efficiency per Ken Pom. They have four different guys averaging double figures. The Red Raiders swept Baylor and Texas while beating Kansas at home - then took them OT at Allen Fieldhouse.
They are battle tested and have the qualities to win games on a neutral court. I’ll take the Red Raiders to cut down the nets here.
Follow Austin Montgomery on Twitter @AMontgomeryLive
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