Another Border War? Big 12 Tournament preview
When & Where: Wednesday, March 7 to Saturday, March 10 at the Sprint Center, Kansas City, Mo.
No. 1 Kansas Jayhawks
No. 2. Missouri Tigers
No. 3 Iowa State Cyclones
No. 4 Baylor Bears
No. 5 Kansas State Wildcats
No. 6 Texas Longhorns
No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys (play-in game versus No. 10 Texas Tech)
No. 8 Oklahoma Sooners (play-in game versus No. 9 Texas A&M)
No. 9 Texas A&M Aggies (play-in game versus No. 8 Oklahoma)
No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders (play-in game versus No. 7 Oklahoma State)
Favorite: Kansas Jayhawks
Potential Cinderella: Kansas State Wildcats
What's at stake?
Unlike some other conferences, most everything is sorted out in the Big 12...except one big elephant. Everything is bigger in Texas, and the University of Texas is the bubbliest of bubble teams right now. At 19-12 and 9-9 and in the Big 12, the Longhorns can't afford a quarterfinal loss to Iowa State.
The Cyclones split their season series with Texas, and the Longhorns' win over Iowa State might be the best on their resume. If they can win that game on Thursday they should feel fairly secure going into Sunday. Of course, an upset of No. 2 seed Missouri in the semifinals sure wouldn't hurt either.
Fans in the arena likely won't be rooting for that upset. In fact the possibility of a third Border War this season between Kansas and Missouri has Kansas City salivating. In the last year of one of the nation's oldest and most bitter rivalries (Mizzou is headed to the SEC next season), the Jayhawks and Tigers played two of the best games of the entire 2011-12 NCAA regular season. The Tigers closed with an 11-0 run to beat Kansas in Columbia, but the Jayhawks got revenge in Lawrence by erasing a 19-point second-half deficit to stun Missouri in overtime. Now the teams could meet one last time, at the border between the two states in Kansas City.
The game wouldn't just be for fun, it'd quite possibly be for a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. It is conceivable that if Missouri was to win the Big 12 title over Kansas, both teams could even receive No. 1s. More likely, however, the conference winner will be a No. 1 seed and could be placed in the advantageous St. Louis region for the tournament.