Tag Archives: Big 12 Basketball

College Basketball Needs the Loathing and Hate of the Missouri versus Kansas Rivalry

Old rivalries die hard. Old rivalries are so ingrained into the fabric of some teams’ psyches that even if two teams no longer play each other, the rivalry continues. Old, dormant rivalries die hard.

This case of old, dormant, raging rivalries is what rears its head each March between fans from Missouri and Kansas.

From the perspective of the Missouri fan, Kansas is being petty for no longer playing the Tigers. More specifically, Bill Self is being petty for objecting to continue the rivalry on the court.

Kansas and Self contend that Missouri ended the rivalry when it accepted the invitation to join the SEC. Missouri left Kansas behind and Self has no intention of letting the programs cuddle. But Self’s Jayhawks continue to be cozy with other former Big 12 members, Nebraska and Colorado.

Kansas fans object to playing Missouri again based on the scorned lover mentality along with the “what’s in it for me” mentality. I mean, seriously, if you’re Kansas, what is in it for you? Missouri just finished up its worse three year period in the history of the program. Why should Kansas feel obligated to schedule another patsy on it schedule?

Now, from the perspective of Missouri, leaving the Big 12 was never anything personal against Kansas. It was just business as they say. The Big 12 was on shaky ground and Missouri jumped at the opportunity to be in a stable conference. Just as Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M did.

But none of this killed the rivalry. Far from it. All of this has only enflamed the rivalry.

As Missouri once again sat home in March, the program and fans were the recipients of some overwhelming superb news. Michael Porter Jr., the No. 1 rated recruit in the class of 2017, de-committed from Washington and pledged to play for Cuonzo Martin and the Tigers. Porter Jr. is going home.

[Merenbloom: What Mizzou Assistant Coach Michael Porter Sr. Is All About – Family Values and Humility]

With heads held high and chests puffed out, Missouri fans took to social media to rub Kansas’ nose in it. Look, I get it. Missouri fans haven’t had much to cheer about the last three years and the absence of elite level talent had a lot to do with the misfortune of Kim Anderson’s three year record. Tiger fans have a right to be giddy, to be proud, and to feel like kings and queens of the basketball world. But Tiger Nation needs to slow its roll and put Porter Jr. in perspective before throwing his commitment in the faces of Kansas fans. Kansas gets a lot of players that are similar to Porter Jr. I mean, A LOT of players that are elite.

As Tiger fans were lighting their morning-after cigarettes and basking in the afterglow of signing Porter Jr., Kansas was playing Oregon in the Elite 8. In what amounted to a home game for Kansas, Oregon strolled into the Sprint Center and smacked Kansas in the mouth for 40 minutes. There was no group of fans happier to see this than the Missouri fans sitting at home. I’ll admit it. I was one of those Tiger fans feeling pretty good as I sat on the couch next to my Jayhawk rooting wife. Yea, yea, yea. Dogs and cats living together and all that.

I adore my Tigers. And because of that, I could never root for Kansas. But here’s the thing. As I get older and as I blog from my basement, I have gained perspective. It’s not quite unbiased perspective, but it’s perspective none-the-less.

As Dana Altman and Oregon ride into the Final Four, Missouri fans can’t help but point and laugh at Self. He choked again they all say. Self’s record in the Elite 8 at Kansas is 2-5. He can’t win when it matters most Tiger fans say.

Now for perspective.

Self has been to two Final Fours with Kansas. Self has won a championship with Kansas. What Missouri fan wouldn’t be ecstatic if all of that was on the resume of Missouri basketball?

Old school Missouri fans hold Norm Stewart in god like status. Stewart won 634 games as the coach of his alma mater. But guess what? Stewart never reached the national championship game. Stewart never reached the Final Four. And Stewart, in his 32 years as the Missouri coach, reached the Elite 8 once.

So if you’re a Missouri fan who is claiming that Self under achieves and is a choke artist just spare me. I don’t want to hear it from you. Because, as Missouri fans, you should all know better. A coach isn’t completely defined in March. At least not Stewart.

But after saying all of that, I’ll say this; I get it.

I get it because Missouri versus Kansas is still a rivalry. And it may be one of, if not the best, rivalries in all of college basketball. I mean the teams no longer play each other and the fans are still as passionate as ever with each other.

As for Missouri, Kansas, and Self? You’ll all play each other again. Missouri will find its way back to the tournament and when it does, the tournament committee will place the teams in the same bracket. The tournament is a made for television event and Missouri playing Kansas will be must-see TV. And when this happens, it will be wonderful. The level of loathing and hate will make everything right again in the world of college basketball.

 

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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Jeff Rosen and the Kansas City Star are Attempting to Hold Bill Self Accountable

Bill Self’s Kansas Jayhawks have wrapped up their 13th straight Big 12 regular season championship, but that isn’t the story that is taking up precious time as Kansas City sports fans gather around their watercoolers. If the Jayhawk’s dominance of the Big 12 isn’t what’s receiving the focus of Kansas City area sports fans, then surely, it’s Self’s apparent lenient stance on would be disciplinary issues. But that isn’t truly the case either. What is catching the ire of these fans is the apparent blind eye that the Kansas City Star sports department has given the legal and disciplinary issues surrounding Self’s program.

Many Kansas City area sports fans believe that the Kansas City Star shows favoritism towards Kansas basketball. Most, if not all, of those fans cheer for the Missouri Tigers. See? The teams don’t have to play for the rivalry to still be going strong. The truth of the matter is that the Star has reported on all of the recent allegations against Self’s Jayhawks.

The Star has written numerous articles regarding the situation involving Josh Jackson and McKenzie Calvert. The newspaper reported on the allegations against Legerald Vick. Kansas City Star reporters also didn’t shy away from reporting on the suspected rape of a 16-year-old girl which was suspected to have occurred in a university dormitory. Five players, including potential player of the year Frank Mason, were listed as witnesses to the alleged rape. The Star also reported on the domestic violence allegations filed against Carlton Bragg as well as reporting on the drug paraphernalia that he was found to be in possession of.

Kansas City Star sports editor, Jeff Rosen, has taken heat on social media over how his sports department has handled all the turmoil surrounding the Kansas basketball team. Among the criticism that Rosen has endured is the belief that he and his staff have not held Self accountable for the actions of his players or for the disciplinary measures Self has chosen to apply to his problem players. But the Star recently published the following article – Editorial: Off-court troubles have cast a cloud over Kansas basketball.

In response to Self’s nonchalant public attitude surrounding the current environment in Lawrence, the Star’s staff had this to say in their collective editorial:

In fact, the real disappointment was Self’s public response to these incidents.

His supervisors aren’t off the hook, either. Everyone from the Board of Regents on down should insist on the highest standards of behavior from all students, especially those who wear the school’s name on their shirts — and the people who coach them.

There is only so much a media outlet can do in situations like this. In defense of Rosen and the Star, the newspaper continues to write articles on these situations and continues to ask follow-up questions to Self. Rosen can’t make Self answer the questions posed by his team of reporters. But what Rosen can and has done is have his staff continue to press Self on these issues.

 

Fans from rival programs may not like the answers being spouted by Self, but that isn’t Rosen’s problem. It would be Rosen’s problem if he was ignoring the issues surrounding the Jayhawks and/or ignoring Self’s reluctance to be transparent. But neither of those things are the reality of the situation. Rosen and his writers are doing their jobs and we should all allow them to continue doing so. Who knows? With a little patience, they just may be able to crack Self and his nonchalant attitude.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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What the Departure of John Currie Means for Kansas State

The University of Tennessee finally hired its replacement for departing athletic director Dave Hart. And no, the person selected for the role is not Phillip Fulmer. It is former Kansas State athletic director John Currie.

Currie’s perceived rocky relationship with former Wildcat basketball coach Frank Martin and current football coach Bill Snyder has been well documented.

Currie and Martin were found to be at odds with each other while negotiating the contracts for Martin’s assistant coaches. Martin’s boss also valued a clean-cut public relations brand and Martin’s abrasive and often foul-mouthed language didn’t fit into what Currie wanted the Wildcat brand to resemble. Perhaps the final straw for Martin was when Currie took a proactive approach and suspended Jamar Samuels as the NCAA was investigating the player for improper recruiting benefits. Martin would soon decide to leave Kansas State for South Carolina.

The fractured relationship between Currie and Snyder is more trivial. Snyder’s daughter was a highly regarded competitive horse rider. Naturally, Snyder wanted his daughter to attend Kansas State. There was just one problem with that wish, equestrian was on Currie’s chopping block. To the dismay of Snyder, Currie would replace equestrian with women’s soccer. If this indifference to the Snyder family weren’t enough, Currie took over non-conference scheduling. Snyder would no longer have the luxury of playing his slate of cupcakes. Instead, Currie scheduled games against the likes of Auburn and Stanford.

These examples are seen by many Wildcat fans as negatives. But Currie’s treatment of Martin and Snyder should be seen as positives.

Currie had a vision for Kansas State athletics and he remained true to that vision. In the situations that transpired between Currie and Martin, and Currie and Snyder, the athletic director acted not only as the leader of Kansas State athletics but he also acted as the boss.

Acting on what it means to be the boss isn’t always an easy job. That is particularly true when one your employees is a legendary coach such as Snyder. But to his credit, Currie didn’t back down from Snyder and ultimately made decisions which he believed to be in the best interest of the Kansas State athletic department.

Making decisions based on what was best for the athletic department was also what Currie did when dealing with the situation Martin and the basketball program found themselves in with Samuels. It would have been easy for Currie to follow Martin’s recommendation and to allow Samuels to play in that NCAA tournament game. But doing so would have opened the athletics department up to additional NCAA scrutiny.

Kansas State now finds itself at a crossroads. Bill Snyder is 77 and was recently diagnosed with throat cancer. Neither his age or his medical condition are considered harbingers of retirement. Whoever is hired to replace Currie will likely be responsible for hiring Snyder’s replacement. Whenever that day comes.

[Merenbloom: It’s Time for Brent Venables to Replace Bill Snyder at Kansas State]

One of the names being floated as Snyder’s replacement is his son, Sean Snyder. Some writers, like ESPN’s Max Olson, believe that the odds of the son replacing the father have increased now that Currie has accepted the Tennessee job. I would have to agree with Olson based on Currie’s track record of standing up to the head coach and making decisions based on what is best for the athletics department as opposed to what’s best for Snyder’s children.

Martin hasn’t been at Kansas State since 2012, so, at this point, he’s completely out of the equation. However, a decision will need to be made about current men’s basketball coach, Bruce Weber. Weber isn’t loved in Manhattan, Kansas but always seems to do just enough to create job security. That job security could quickly turn into a house of cards with a new athletic director.

As is the case with any person in a position of influence, Currie was both admired and shunned for the job he did while in charge of the Kansas State athletics department. Some of the names that have surfaced as potential replacements for Currie are current Kansas State deputy athletics director Laird Veatch and current Texas Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt. Whoever is hired to replace Currie will eventually be placed in the unique position of hiring Snyder’s successor and possibly a new head basketball coach.

It’s an exciting time to be a Kansas State fan.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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Ken Bone Needs to Ask Tim Kaine the Important Question

There’s a presidential election coming up in November. As is the case in most, if not all elections, each side is engaging in the fire and brimstone rhetoric that accompanies people having a difference of opinion. To have a difference of opinion requires that each party chooses a side. To have a difference of opinion requires a decision to be made.

Having an opinion is synonymous with having a preference. It’s not necessarily right or wrong. It’s just a matter of having a preference. Having a political preference isn’t always as cut-and-dry as it may seem. There are grey areas between Republican and Democrat.

Living in the grey area of the political spectrum is something that I can respect. I live in that grey area, so I get it. But when a potential leader lives in that grey area with decisions as simple as choosing their preferred sports team, well, that’s troublesome. Because who a person roots for is what really matters. Right? Good. Glad we can agree on that!

Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running mate, Tim Kaine, graduated from the University of Missouri but is a Kansas Jayhawk basketball fan. Can we really have someone like Kaine running around the White House if Clinton is elected? I say, no, we cannot have this.

I graduated from Missouri and married a lovely woman who not only worked at Kansas but lives in Lawrence. Needless to say, I spend more time in that God forsaken town than I ever imagined. But I didn’t hand in my Tiger Squad membership card. I still proudly wear my black and gold as I ride through town with thoughts of Quantrill dancing in my head.

Now, it’s true that Kaine was born and raised in Kansas and then left to earn his diploma at Missouri. Smart man. You know what they say about a Kansas education. After considering this, I’d have more respect for Kaine if he not only rooted for Kansas basketball but also rooted for Kansas football. But that’s not the case. Kaine is a “picker and chooser.”

The Virginia governor grew up in Overland Park, Kan., and is an avowed Jayhawk fan. Back in 2005, he called them his favorite team. But not, as it turns out, on the gridiron.

“I root for the Jayhawks in basketball,” Kaine told us yesterday. “I’ve never been a KU football fan.”

And to make matters worse, Kaine may not even be a Missouri Tiger football fan. Yes, he grew up in Kansas, went to Missouri and, having been governor of Virginia, may consider Virginia Tech his favorite football team.

I have to ask Kaine one question – When does it stop?

If our country ever went to war, could we trust Kaine to choose a side? Based on all of this, it’s a debatable question. Sure Kaine was born in the United States, but could he side with us if we went war with China? Maybe, maybe not. I bet Kaine once ate a fortune cookie containing a fortune that really spoke to him. How could he be expected to fight a culture that gave him that moment of zen?

These are observations that need to be made and these are the important questions that need to be asked. You know that Ken Bone would ask and so should you. Speaking of Bone, I want to know who that red-sweatered sage roots for.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

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Big 12 Links: Rudolph Can Find Santa, but not a Catcher

The Big 12 will be represented on the U.S. Collegiate Volleyball Team

A trio of Big 12 volleyball players will represent the Big 12 Conference on the 2016 Collegiate National Team. The three girls selected were Baylor’s Shelly Fanning and K-State’s Brooke Sassin and Bryna Vogel. The Collegiate National Team consists of 36 members so it is a big honor to be selected for this team. Being on this team is considered to be the second tryout for the U.S. Women’s National Team. These girls will play on June 26- 29 in Indianapolis, Indiana.

The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association named Texas Tech’s Davis Hitter of the Week

Michael Davis has had a great baseball season so far for the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Davis leads all Big 12 players in RBI by accumulating 11 just last week. Davis helped the Red Raiders go on a 4-1 road trip that included a mid-week split with No. 5 Florida State. The Red Raiders also swept No. 16 Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders are having one of the best seasons they have had in a long time. Their record is 12-1 and haven’t swept a ranked team since 2002.  They have completed that already this year and look like they can do it again.

Some Important, and not so Important Date Changes for the 2016 Football Season

The Big 12 has announced two date changes to its 2016 conference football schedule. When the Kansas Jayhawks travel to Lubbock Texas to play Texas Tech their game will be played on Thursday, September 29 instead of October 1. The second game that is being changed is when TCU plays Texas in Austin. This game has been moved to Friday, November 25 instead of Thursday November 24. These have been moved due to television purposes, but I’m not quite sure how many people will tune in to watch the KU vs. Texas Tech game.

Is Tubby Smith leaving Texas Tech?

After Tubby Smith led the Red Raiders to their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2007 it looks like he might be leaving the up-and-coming Red Raiders behind. Rumors are that Coach Smith is on the top of a very short list of candidates that the Memphis Tigers are looking at. Tubby would replace the old Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who took the job at Georgia Tech after the end of last season. Tubby has really improved the Texas Tech basketball team. He has made the Red Raiders relevant again in the Big 12. This would be a huge blow not only to Texas Tech, but also to the Big 12 conference.

Rudolph Needs to Stick to being a QB

You would think that a quarterback who has an over 60 percent completion rate last season would be able to thrown a baseball to a catcher. But Mason Rudolph proves everyone wrong when he threw the baseball way over the catchers head. Make sure you watch the video for this one. It is pretty hilarious.

Gators QB Will Grier to transfer to West Virginia

This announcement came on Wednesday. Will Grier will have to sit out the 2016 season for the Mountaineers due to NCAA rules for transferring. Another problem is Grier was suspended in October after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance. West Virginia is trying to argue it, but the earliest Grier can play is the fall of 2017. It will be interesting to see how much he will end up playing at West Virginia.

Brad Underwood to Oklahoma State

Growing up a Kansas State fan, college basketball was somewhat foreign to me until I got to the high school age. My family went to a few men’s games here and there but that was mainly to get to Manhattan during other seasons. We went to a lot of women’s games, mainly when they played in Lawrence since it was a lot closer to KC and the Women were very good. We didn’t go to many men’s games because simply they weren’t good. The K-State men’s basketball team slowly turned it around and when I was a senior in high school the Wildcats hired Bob Huggins.

Kansas State basketball changed for the better when they did that. Bob Huggins kept most of the staff that was there but hired a few new guys. One of those guys being Frank Martin. Martin took over as head coach when Huggins left a year later to return to his alma mater. Frank kept assistant Brad Underwood because he knew that Underwood has been around Kansas State for a long time. Underwood grew up in McPherson, KS and played at Kansas State. Underwood was an assistant coach at K-State from 2006-2012. Before he was at Kansas State he had prior coaching experience at Dodge City Community College, an assistant at Western Illinois and a head coach at Daytona Beach Community College. Underwood had winning records at all of these schools.

Underwood wanted the job after Frank Martin left, but Currie wouldn’t give him the light of day. I heard at the time because he didn’t have enough coaching experience. So instead Currie hired an outsider with a losing record. A lot of K-State fans, including myself were very surprised by the hire of Bruce Weber and didn’t understand or see why Currie would choose him when he had two perfectly good candidates in Underwood and Henson (both old K-State players and very good assistant coaches) going for the job.

Underwood ended up spending one season as the assistant at South Carolina before taking the head coaching job at Stephen F. Austin. Brad Underwood went 89-14 in three seasons at Stephen F. Austin. This ties Butler’s Brad Stevens as the best three year start for a head coach in the NCAA. He has made it to the NCAA Tournament all three years and beat No. 3 West Virginia in this year’s tournament.

Oklahoma State hired a very good coach last night and it will officially be announced on Wednesday. When I heard the news I had no words to describe the feelings I had.  I know I was mad, no I was more than mad, I was angry (just ask my boyfriend). Angry in the fact that Kansas State didn’t hire Underwood four years ago when they had the chance. I am angry that Kansas State didn’t hire him after this season when Bruce Weber finished 17-16 and 5-13 in the Big 12, not including the Big 12 Tournament. The Wildcats haven’t played in any post season tournament in two years unlike the teams under Underwood.

Every Kansas State fan should be happy for Underwood, but sad at the fact that he will never coach the Wildcats, at least for a long time. This year Weber has a lot to prove. If Weber doesn’t make the tournament again next year I think Currie will hire someone new and it will be very interesting who he chooses this time.

NCAA Tournament Preview: West Region

It is that time again. People filling out brackets at the office, getting into betting pools based on 18- and 19-year-old young men, people trying to pick the right upsets, and maybe even picking that “Cinderella story”. I know it’s a shameless “Caddyshack” reference, but it certainly applies when people get into a bracket for the tournament.

Getting past all the brackets being filled out, let’s take a look at the West Region, which is led by the Oregon Ducks as the region’s number one seed.

Overview

The big teams on this side of the bracket are Oregon, Oklahoma, Duke, and Texas A&M, but as a region the West is relatively weak compared to the other sides of the bracket. When I look at the top four teams in this region, I don’t look at one team and think “Oh, they win this region with ease.” Let’s look at the teams that have a pretty good shot at coming out of the West.

Oregon is playing as well as anybody in the country right now. People might be looking at the Ducks and underestimating them a little bit. Don’t sleep on the Quack Attack. They have athletes and play well together as a team.

Oklahoma can win this region as well. They get to play their game(s) in Oklahoma City and are considered one of the top two seeds in the whole tournament. They also have one of the best players in the country in Buddy Hield who can simply take over a game and win that game.

Defending National Champion Duke, which is arguably having a down year, could win this region behind its best player, Grayson Allen. You just have to watch your feet around Grayson. Grayson can flat out score the basketball and if he gets going it can have positive consequences for the Blue Devils.

Celtic great, Bill Russell, has always said basketball is about “getting buckets”. Texas A&M gets buckets in bunches and is scoring an average of 10 points per game more than its opponent. When the Aggies get on a run, it can result in an avalanche of points that their opponents can’t recover from. If teams have to match the scoring of Texas A&M they will be in for a long night and that is why the Aggies can win the West Region.

Players to Watch

Dillon Brooks (Oregon): This kid can play some basketball. Having watched him live, he is a match up problem for most teams. He can post up down low, bang with the big guys, score, or he can take his game to the perimeter and knock down shots. He’s the hybrid type of player that is a nightmare for opposing coaches to game plan for. He’s the leader for Oregon and he could make his national coming out party in the Tournament.

Grayson Allen (Duke): Grayson is another in the long line of hated Duke Blue Devils who can shoot the ball. This player is as tough as they come and can score from the mid-range area, can take it to the rim, and hit the three-point shot with relative ease. If he has another moment like he did in last year’s title game, the Blue Devils could make another special run this year.

Buddy Hield (Oklahoma): This young man was one of the best stories in college basketball this season. The young Bahamian averaged 25 points per game and can also hit the three point shot at a fantastic rate as well. The other thing that comes with a season like he had is that he just might win National Player of the Year. The aspect that I like about him is his personality. He smiles for the cameras, he’s engaging, and looks like he’s actually enjoying himself out on the court. Watch Hield and you could be watching something special happen.

Gary Payton II (Oregon State): This is one of those stories that people who follow Oregon State would only know about. Last time the Beavers were in the NCAA Tournament, Gary Payton Sr. was leading the Beavers to the tournament. It’s a circle of life thing for the Beaver fans. The son, is making his mark this year in the Pac-12 and is in the running for the Player of the Year award for the conference. He plays both ends of the court and to say his relative calm demeanor takes away from his game would be a gross mischaracterization. Watch this kid play. You won’t be disappointed.

Final Thought

At the end of the day, I think the West is about as wide open as it could possibly be. Oregon earned its number one seed by winning the Pac-12 regular season and tournament titles but you can’t take anything away from Duke, Oklahoma, or even Texas A&M. As a person who has followed college basketball his entire life, I know the NCAA Tournament is full of surprises and I am sure this year will be no different. Let the games begin.

E-mail Mike at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @pigskinopinion.

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The Big 12 Tournament Review

The Big 12 Tournament did not disappoint. There were many exciting games this week and I wasn’t surprised by any results of the games. It will be interesting to see how the Big 12 is represented come tournament time.

The tournament kicked off Wednesday night with what ended up being two close games. Kansas State played like they knew there was no pressure on them. They started out the game with great defense and some solid shooting. They led the first half 40-23. Freshman Dean Wade put on a solid showing and had his career best 20 points. Oklahoma State, which lost its twentieth game for the first time since 1971-72, now has other things to worry about, like if they are going to have the same head coach next year. The Cowboys attempted to make a comeback in the game, but fell short and lost 75-71 to the Wildcats.

The game that surprised most people during the tournament was TCU beating Texas Tech. TCU has been in most of their games this season, but came up short in the closing minutes. They were used this experience to their advantage on Wednesday night. The Horned Frogs had numerous players step up in this game. TCU lost seven straight going into the game on Wednesday night. Texas Tech was fighting for an NCAA bid so this loss may mean they don’t get into the NCAA Tournament. TCU beat Texas Tech 67-62.

Three out of four of the games on Thursday weren’t that close, but that was to be expected. Baylor was playing well entering the tournament, but kept coming up short during those close games. Taurean Price had a solid game for the Bears and had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Texas was kept at bay by the Bears defense and lost their fourth straight game to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament 61-75.

The good defense and shooting didn’t last long for the Wildcats. The top ranked Jayhawks were “on” on Thursday afternoon. Perry Ellis had 21 points and Kansas led at half by 15 and never looked back. Kansas State has played KU nine times in the Big 12 Tournament and has never beaten them, Kansas beat Kansas State 85-63.

West Virginia won their first game in the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday night. Devin Williams led the Mountaineers with 18 points and 11 rebounds. West Virginia never trailed TCU, but the Horned Frogs didn’t go down without a fight. TCU did a good job breaking West Virginia’s press, which they are known for. But it wasn’t enough and TCU lost 66-86. The way West Virginia played on Thursday night a deep March run seems very possible for the Mountaineers.

Thursday night was a solid showing by (in my opinion) the best player in college basketball this year, Buddy Hield. He scored 39 points, which was the second most in Big 12 Tournament history. While Niang tried to keep up and had 31 for Iowa State. The game was back and forth as to be expected and could have easily come out either way. Oklahoma came out on the winning end of it and won 79-76 crushing Iowa States dream of winning the Tournament three years in a row.

Friday night started off with a tough battle against Kansas and Baylor. KU almost gave up the game in the final minutes of the second half, but held on and won 70-66. Kansas was led by Perry Ellis, who had 20 points. The Jayhawks avenged for their tournament loss last year. This win was the thirteenth straight for the Jayhawks.

A fraction of a second…that’s all that came between Oklahoma beating West Virginia to go to the Big 12 Tournament championship game. Buddy Hield got the ball in his hands, took a couple of dribbles, crossed half court and heaved up a shot at the buzzer. The ball banked through the basket. Hield and everyone else at the Sprint Center thought the basket was good. The Mountaineers did a good job of keeping Hield to six points. The Mountaineers had a solid lead in the second half, but the Sooners came back and made it a game. Since that last shot didn’t count the Mountaineers beat the Sooners 69-67 to play Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game.

Saturday night’s Championship game did not disappoint. The Mountaineers made sure they kept themselves in the game against Kansas. Devin Williams for West Virginia finished with a career-best 31 points and 10 rebounds, but the junior forward was forced to carry the load by himself. Jevon Carter was held to four points after scoring 26 in a semifinal win over No. 6 Oklahoma, and leading scorer Jaysean Paige managed just six points while committing four turnovers. Kansas knew exactly who to cover. Devonte Graham matched a career-high with 27 points Saturday night, Wayne Selden Jr. added 21, and the top-ranked Jayhawks won their 10th Big 12 Tournament trophy by beating the West Virginia Mountaineers 81-71.

Big 12 Tournament Kick-Off

The Big 12 Tournament kicks off this week at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. It should be a very exciting tournament considering the season did not disappoint. The first round of games start on Wednesday and they go through Saturday.

The first round starts at 6 p.m. on Wednesday when Kansas State plays Oklahoma State. The Wildcats should win this game, but they have been inconsistent all season so it is up in the air. The next game on Wednesday is Texas Tech vs. TCU at 8 p.m. The Red Raiders should win this game. They have been on a big win streak lately and I think it will carry over into the tournament

The second round, which is on Thursday has a lot of exciting games. The first game of the day is Texas vs. Baylor at 11:30 a.m. This should be a really close game. If Texas plays the way it did against Kansas then Baylor will win. Kansas is the next game at 1:30 p.m. They will play the winner of the K-State vs. Oklahoma State game. The third game on Thursday is West Virginia vs. the winner of the Texas Tech vs. TCU matchup. That game starts at 6 p.m. The final game on Thursday is Oklahoma vs. Iowa State at 8 p.m. This game should be a tough battle between two good teams. Oklahoma hasn’t been playing very well as of late. So it should be interesting to see if Oklahoma can step up and play the way they did earlier in the season.

Friday is the semifinal round. The two games on Friday are at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. The 6 p.m. game will be the winner of Texas vs. Baylor and Kansas vs. K-State or Oklahoma State.  The second game will be against the winner of Iowa State vs. Oklahoma and the winner of West Virginia vs. Texas Tech or TCU. Since the Big 12 has been back and forth all season it is really hard to predict who is going to play in the finals on Saturday night. I will predict that OU and Kansas will be in the finals. I think that Kansas will win the tournament. The Jayhawks have been getting better throughout the season and I don’t think they will lose a third tournament in a row.

It will be very interesting how some of these teams play in the tournament. Some of their seasons are on the line. If K-State does not win against Oklahoma State it will more than likely not make the NIT. If Texas Tech loses to TCU it will more than likely not make the NCAA Tournament. Those are the two main teams in the Big 12 that have a lot on the line in this tournament. The other teams (besides TCU) just have to worry about the seeds they will get in the NCAA Tournament. The Big 12 could send seven out of ten teams to the NCAA Tournament this year.

New Season, Same Champion

Big 12 basketball hasn’t really changed much lately, especially in regards to a champion. Yes, these past few seasons have been very exciting in regards to competition in the league, but with every team being good they have beaten each other up. Kansas has now found a way to win at least a share of the Big 12 title for the past 12 years. They have been able to find a way to beat the competitive Big 12 by at least one game, or tied with someone every year and that is really impressive.

On Saturday the Jayhawks won a share of their 12th Big 12 Championship when they beat Texas Tech in Lawrence. The only school to win more consecutive conference championships is UCLA, which won 13 in a row during the 1960’s and 70’s. Texas Tech, which won five straight conference games prior to Monday is trying to make its way into the NCAA Tournament. The Red Raiders shot just 31 percent against Kansas. Texas Tech has still never won at Allen Fieldhouse.

On Monday night the Kansas Jayhawks beat the Texas Longhorns 86-56 to win the Big 12 outright. Every player on the Kansas roster was in elementary school the last time the Jayhawks didn’t win at least a share of the Big 12 title. That was during Self’s first season in 2003-04.

Iowa State honored its seniors against Oklahoma State. The seniors included Jameel McKay, Abdel Nader, Nazareth Mitrou- Long and Georges Niang. But the night was mainly all about Niang. This year he became one of just nine players with 2,000 points, 600 rebounds and 400 assists over the past two decades.

The Oklahoma vs. Baylor game on Tuesday night looked like it was over in the first ten minutes. Baylor scored the first two points, but the wheels quickly fell off as Oklahoma went on a 26-1 run to take a 23-point lead midway through the first. Then senior night almost turned out to be a disaster at Oklahoma.  The Sooners gave up a 24-point second-half lead and trailed Baylor by one with three minutes and 50 seconds remaining in the game. Hield led all scorers with 23 points on the night, while Cousins chipped in 10. The Bears played harder than the Sooners in the second half. The Bears caused three straight turnovers from the Sooners and were able to make some easy buckets. While it is a win, it is an uneasy one for the Sooners, who have been struggling lately. Going into Tuesday the Sooners lost four of their last seven games. The Sooners’ play has drastically worsened since January, so hopefully it can pick back up in time for the tournament.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders were predicted to finish last in the Big 12 this season. From the way they have been playing lately, this will not be the case. Wednesday night was a bit of a struggle for them, but they played a really tough West Virginia team that is #10 in the nation. The Mountaineers were predicted to finish sixth in the Big 12, but will more than likely finish second. Texas Tech couldn’t keep up and West Virginia beat them 90-68 on Wednesday night.

Kansas State came out Wednesday night like they had something to prove. Barry Brown scored 15 points and went five of eight from three. Justin Edwards added 12 more at his final home game. Chaucey Collins led TCU with 11 points. The Horned Frogs shot 33 percent from the field. Kansas State beat TCU 79-54.