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Big 12 Basketball Tournament Preview: Thursday's Slate

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Previewing Thursday's second round games where #4 Baylor takes on #5 West Virginia follwed by #1 Kansas and #9TCU #8 K-State, with #2 Iowa State vs #7 Texas and #3 Oklahoma vs #6 Oklahoma State in the night caps.

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Christian University won its first ever Big 12 tournament game, out purple-ing the probably soon-to-be coachless Wildcats of Kansas State. In the nightcap, Texas continued its three game win streak over the Red Raiders in somewhat dominating fashion (judging strictly by the box score). Both teams earned the privilege of advancing to today's quarterfinals where they face off against #1 seed, Kansas, and #2 seed, Iowa State, respectively.

FiftyShadeofGray, Cyclone Scholar, and I whipped our way through the Thursday previews for you, so strap in and try to contain your squeals of excitement as we build up anticipation for tonight's big showdown with the Longhorns.

Game 3 - #4 Baylor (11-7) vs #5 West Virginia (11-7)

by Vegas CyClown

The Prior Meetings

February 7, 2015

Baylor 87 - West Virginia 69

The 19th ranked Baylor Bears dominated #15 West Virginia on their home court in this early February match-up behind Rico Gathers' 17 point, 17 rebound night. The Bears led 46 - 30 at halftime and by as much as 26 points at one point before settling for the 18 point victory. Baylor would go on to lose their next two games.

The loss was West Virginia's second in a row following a 19 point loss at Oklahoma four days earlier and was one of the worst home losses in COY Bob Huggins' eight seasons in Morgantown.

Feburary 28, 2015

West Virginia 66 - Baylor 78

The Mountaineers were unable to exact their revenge in Waco, again losing to the Bears in resounding fashion. Gathers had another solid night (17 points, 10 rebounds), but Taurean Prince was the leader in the clubhouse, scoring 20 points off the bench for Baylor.

Jevon Carter scored 25 points, including seven 3 pointers, for West Virginia, but the Staten-less Mountaineers' pressure again proved ineffective against a Baylor team that was in the process of winning 10 of their last 14 games.

Remembering Baylor

As a team predicted to finish in a tie with West Virginia for 6th place, the #4 seed Baylor Bears certainly proved the prognosticators somewhat wrong. Scott Drew has never lead his team to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments, and nobody really expected he would break from tradition this year. Perhaps for that reason alone he should have been the Big 12 COY, but that honor went to his first round foe instead.

Baylor entered the conference season having lost only one game (to Illinois), but losses in their first two matchups (@Oklahoma, Kansas) sent them directly to the bottom of the standings. Things didn't really begin to click for them until they reached mid-February, when they would win 6 of their last 7 games.

During the season, the Bears swept both Iowa State and West Virginia and split their games with Oklahoma. Kansas, along with Oklahoma State, seemed the only ones immune to their size this season. Baylor's worst loss on the season was on the road at K-State - they weren't the only ones to suffer losses in Manhattan.

Remembering West Virginia

If Baylor's season was surprisingly successful, then so too must be the Mountaineers'. Bob Huggins' team was also slated to finish in the middle-bottom of the Big XII, with only one known returning quantity in the Big XII Pre-season Player of the Year, Juwan Staten.

Relentless pressure on the defensive end allowed Press Virginia to enter conference play with only one loss to SEC football power, LSU. They didn't slow down, either, winning 6 of their first 9 games, and were in the discussion to unseat Kansas until a late season two game losing streak took them out of contention.

Who Wins?

Only two teams were able to successfully break the Mountaineers pressure this season, Iowa State and Baylor. They say beating a quality team three times in the same season is difficult to do. For Iowa State's sake, let's hope their wrong.

Baylor 82 - West Virginia 79

Vegas Line - BU -3

KenPom - Baylor 70 - West Virginia 67 (Baylor win 61%)

Game Notes

Tip: 11:30 AM

TV: ESPN2

Baylor SB Nation Site - Our Daily Bears

West Virginia SB Nation Site - The Smoking Musket

Game 4 - #1 Kansas (13-5) vs #9 TCU (4-14)

by FiftyShadesofGray

The Prior Meetings

TCU January 28, 2015

Kansas 64 - TCU 61

Frank Mason hit some big baskets late to prevent another upset in Fort Worth for the #9 Jayhawks. This win, occuring in the middle of a 5-game winning streak for KU when they were arguably playing their best basketball of the season, was a bit of a deviation from that, but a win is a win.

For TCU, this game came towards the beginning of a 7-game losing streak in the Big 12 that defined their conference season. Three days later, the Horned Frogs brought their brand of ball to Ames, suffering a 17-point loss to glorious Hoiball.

TCU Feb 21, 2015

TCU 72 - Kansas 81

Perry Ellis scored 23 points on 9-10 shooting from the field (5-10 FT), and Devonte Graham chipped in 20 as the Jayhawks rebounded from their loss in Morgantown. Talk about a way to get over a last-second loss. TCU, however, stayed persistent throughout the entire game, with Trey Zeigler scoring 20 points. Foul trouble caught the Frogs late, and their efforts ultimately fell short.

Remembering Kansas

Thought of by many to finally be the year the streak ended, Kansas still managed to wrap up its 11th straight Big 12 title with a game to spare in the regular season. The Jayhawks played the hardest schedule in college basketball and managed to win 24 games. They have experience against #1 Kentucky, the #2 RPI, and survived the deepest conference in America. Perry Ellis was named First Team All Conference, with Kelly Oubre and Wayne Selden getting Honorable Mentions.

Kansas looked great at some points this season, there's no question - the win over Iowa State in Lawrence comes to mind - but along with those highs, there were some lows. While losing to Kentucky was not an uncommon theme this year, but the Jayhawks managed only 12 second half points against the pre-ordained National Champions and also suffered a humbling defeat at the hands of the Temple Owls.

The Big 12 race wasn't as clear cut as the eventual record suggests either. Iowa State, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Baylor each had opportunities late in the season to take the title from selfish Bill Self, but Kansas would not relent.

Entering tournament play, things are not rosy for the fighting Bill Selfs: Perry Ellis has a sprained knee and may not play in the Big 12 tournament; Cliff Alexander is sidelined with eligibility issues; and Brannen Greene is sitting somewhere up in the stands instead of on the bench. If ever there were a vulnerable Jayhawk team coming in to Kansas City, this would be it.

TCU Game 1 Recap

You can read our recap of TCU's win here.

You can read their recap of TCU's win here.

or, if you prefer,

You can read about K-State's loss, here.

Who Wins?

Once again, this is a matchup featuring a team that swept their opponent in conference play. That doesn't make much of a difference though, as Kansas playing with a depleted roster is still too much for the TCU to handle.

Kansas 78 - TCU 65

Vegas Line - KU -8

KenPom - Kansas 72 - TCU 63 (Kansas win 82%)

Game Notes

Tip: 1:30 PM

TV: ESPN2

Kansas SB Nation Site - Rock Chalk Talk

TCU SB Nation Site - Frogs o' War

Game 5 - #2 Iowa State (12-6) vs #7 Texas (8-10)

Find cylentbutdeadly's preview here.

Game 6 - #3 Oklahoma (12-6) vs #6 Oklahoma State (8-10)

by Cyclone Scholar

A good ol fashion Bedlam battle is about to go down in an opening round game of the Big 12 Tournament as Oklahoma squares off against Oklahoma State on Friday night.

Oklahoma comes into the game looking to solidify its tournament resume. Already a "lock" to make the field of 64 (you can't convince me play in games count), a couple of wins in the Big 12 tournament would help make them a strong consideration for a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma comes into the game after capping off a red hot end to the regular season, which saw them win 8 of the their last 10 games, and finishing 3rd in the Big 12 standings.

Oklahoma features a strong backcourt of Isaiah Cousins, and Big 12 player of the year candidate Buddy Hield. Hield comes into the game averaging over 21 points per game in his last 3 contests, and can absolutely dominate and take over a game at any time. Oklahoma can light up the scoreboard, as evidenced by their 72.2 ppg this season, but also features an underrated defense, that at times can be stingy on even the best offensive teams in the country.

Oklahoma State on the other hand comes into the game with less certainty about their NCAA Tournament hopes. Desperate and in need of at least a couple of wins in the Big 12 Tournament after limping to the end of the conference season, losing 6 out of their last 10 games. Oklahoma State has been somewhat of an anomaly this season which featured sweeps of both Baylor and Texas, and a win against Kansas, but also head scratching losses to TCU and Texas Tech.

Oklahoma State will look for a big game from its two best players in senior guard Le'Bryan Nash, and Phil Forte III. Both players are averaging over 15 ppg this season, and Oklahoma State will rely heavily on the both of them to have big games if they look to advance past Oklahoma, and even deeper into the tournament.

I'm usually a believer in the old saying that it's tough to beat a team three times in the same season. I also like to think that overall talent and record can sometimes be thrown out in rivalry games, especially one with this type of tradition. However, I give the nod to Oklahoma in this one. They're absolutely on fire of late, and if not for a complete collapse in the 2nd half of the Iowa State game last week, we could be talking about this team as the Big 12 regular season champs.

This game will be a grind and competitive, as was most of the Big 12 season, and sure to be entertaining but I don't envision a scenario where Oklahoma State has enough offensive fire power to keep up with Oklahoma. With a win Oklahoma takes bragging rights and a season sweep of their biggest rival, while also putting in serious jeopardy Oklahoma State's hopes of continuing their season.

Who Wins?

Oklahoma 77

Oklahoma State 68

Game Notes

Tip: 8:00 pm CST
TV: ESPNU

Oklahoma SBN Site - Crimson and Cream Machine

Oklahoma State SBN Site - Cowboys Ride for Free