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Big 12 Tournament Previews - Why Each Team Can Win It... and Why They Can't

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Want to know why each Big 12 team will win the tournament? Or why each will lose it?

After The Jump, we breakdown all league teams, from the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks to the bottom dwelling Nebraska Cornhuskers, and explain, in detail, why you can see the nets being cut down by any of the 12 conference teams (well, truthfully 11 have a legit shot)

1 Seed - Kansas Jayhawks

Why They Can Win It: The winning formula in March is to either have solid backcourt play or a solid frontcourt. Kansas has both. Sherron Collins and Xavier Henry run the backcourt while Cole Aldrich, Marcus and Markieff Morris anchor the frontcourt. Kansas is not just the best team in the conference; they are on the short list of best teams in the nation. Simply stated, they are stacked. Head to toe. If offenses can get past Collins and Henry, Aldrich's presence alters shots, even if he doesn't get a hand on the ball. They are an intimidating force and should cut down the nets on Saturday night.

Why They Won't Win It: They did lose a conference game this season, showing that they aren't completely unbeatable. Granted it did take Oklahoma St shooting 60% from the floor and 53% from behind the arch to topple the giant, but there is proof they can be beat. I guess the take away is that if you do want to beat KU, your best bet is to not miss a shot.

2 Seed - Kansas State Wildcats

Why They Can Win It: As stated above, the "winning formula in March is to either have solid frontcourt play or a solid frontcourt." While K-State has a decent backcourt, it will be the guard play of Denis Clemente and Jacob Pullen who guide them to victory. Setting aside a 17-point loss at Kansas, their other 4 loses were by a combined 16 pts. Pullen and Clemente keep them in games and give them a puncher's chance to win any game they play. They are talented enough and have the coaching to win any game they play. A potential 1v2 championship game in Kansas City between in-state rivals KU and K-State will be an exciting match-up to watch.

Why They Won't Win It: The Wildcats lost Saturday to 11-seed Iowa State. At Home. That game came down to Iowa State big men getting the job done (the Clone starting frontline combined for 42 of the team's 85 pts). The decent frontcourt didn't get it done, and if they play a team with size their guard play gets nullified.

3 Seed - Baylor Bears

Why They Can Win It: Baylor has the magical frontcourt and backcourt sealed down. Ekpe Udoh is a dominate force down low. LaceDarius Dunn is a 6-4 guard who can launch a three or bang down low. Then there is Tweety Carter, the ultimate playmaker. They have all the components to win. Their RPI is 8th in the country, so you know they have the talent. They keep games close and give their scorers opportunities to make plays and are in midstride at the right time, winning 7 of their last 8 heading into the conference tourney.

Why They Won't Win It: The only good reason that Baylor can't win it all is because they might face Kansas in the finals. There isn't really any other team that, on paper, is superior to the Bears. They are as good as the other top tier teams and can beat any of them on any given night. Conversely, they miss a couple shots and can be taken out by the other top seeds.

4 Seed - Texas A&M Aggies

Why They Can Win It: I admit that I still don't quite understand A&M. Donald Sloan and Bryan Davis are great players, but when Derrick Roland broke his leg in a gruesome incident in late December, I essentially wrote them off. Granted Roland wasn't necessarily the best player on the team, but he certainly was an important cog. Every time I watch them, I try and figure out how they win... and every time they amaze me that they do, on the shoulders of Sloan and Davis. So if those two can get and remain hot, A&M could be a buzz saw this week.

Why They Won't Win It: A&M was 11th in conference in points per game with 72. Of those, 28 each night came from Sloan and Davis. If a team can limit the duo's touches, or get them to miss shots, A&M won't win.  

5 Seed - Missouri Tigers

Why They Can Win It: 40 Minutes of He, errr, The Fastest 40 Minutes in Basketball is a fun brand of hoops to watch. Turnovers, steals, guys seemingly all over the place. Fun. When it works. And when it works there aren't many teams that can play into the frenetic style, especially given a day to prepare.

Why They Won't Win It: Setting up the full court press relies on the Tigers making shots and there are often long, long stretches where they can't hit the broad side of the barn. If the Tigers' shots aren't dropping they cant set up their press and teams seem to be able to pick apart the sometimes porous half court D.

6 Seed - Texas Longhorns

Why They Can Win It: If this isn't the top question on any basketball insider's mind, then they haven't been paying attention. Texas is simply stacked with playmakers at every position. Their guard play, specifically the point guard position, is suspect but they have the talent to overcome the deficiency. Dexter Pittman. Damion James. Avery Bradley. All good players who individually could lead a team to victory, but collectively should.

Why They Won't Win It: OK, so maybe this is the top question on the mind of any basketball insider. Why, with all their talent, has Texas dropped 8 of their last 14? Well, one reason is certainly free team throw shooting, where the Longhorns are last in the conference with, making an unbelievably low 63% of their freebies. Horns coach Rick Barnes has taken responsibility for the rapid decline in the former #1 team in the country, but unless he uses a juiced up form of Fix-A-Flat, the Horns will make an early exit.

7 Seed - Oklahoma St. Cowboys

Why They Can Win It: James Anderson is the best player it the conference. Period. No debate. He is a game changer and there isn't a defense in the conference that can contain him. The Cowboys have also proven to be giant killers, handing KU their lone conference blemish. As long as they can hit their shots, which they did in sinking 60% of them in the W over Kansas, Ok State can beat anyone.

Why They Won't Win It: Anderson is unstoppable... but the Pokes domination ends there. If teams settle on giving Anderson his 25 pts and concentrate on stopping the other Cowboys, Oklahoma St could be in for a world of hurt.

8 Seed - Colorado Buffaloes

Why They Can Win It: The Buffaloes are one of the hottest teams in conference right now and are clicking at the right moment to cause damage in the conference tourney. They beat their first round opponent last Saturday in Boulder by scoring 101 pts and tiring them out in the thin Boulder air. Cory Higgins, Alec Burks and Marcus Relphorde are probably the 3-man combo that casual fans haven't heard of and their ability to carry a team (72 combined pts in the victory over Texas Tech) have already taken the Buffs further than the preseason polls suggested.

Why They Won't Win It: While they are peaking at the right time, their current three game win streak has come at the hands of the 9, 11 and 12 seeds in conference. Also, of their 6 conference wins, 5 came in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains and the altitude that accompanies it. Prior to a victory over Nebraska last Tuesday, CU had gone 36-games (4 years) without winning a conference game on the road, and the conference tournament is not in Boulder.

9 Seed - Texas Tech Red Raiders

Why They Can Win It: Texas Tech has playmakers. Mike Singletary and John Roberson each average over 14 ppg... and who can forget Singletary's epic 43 pt outburst in last year's Big 12 tournament? If those guys get hot and guard Nick Okorie can hit his shots, then the Red Raiders have a chance of upsetting a few teams.

Why They Won't Win It: 7-game win streaks are good! 7-game losing streak... quite the opposite. Coming into Wednesday, the Red Raiders have dropped 7 straight and the ship just isn't right for Pat Knight's squad. Of their 4 conference victories, 2 have come off Oklahoma, and the way the brackets are lined up, they wouldn't face the Sooners until the championship game.

10 Seed - Oklahoma Sooners

Why They Can Win It: Tommy Mason-Griffin is a superstar in the waiting and has learned a lot in his freshman year playing in the guard-heavy Big 12.

Why They Won't Win It: Their incumbent superstar Willie Warren never lived up to his preseason hype and is now on the shelf for the season. Heralded freshman Tiny Gallon looks like he never got into perfect playing shape. They bring an 8-game losing streak into the tourney and face their in-state rivals, who are still vying for an NCAA berth in the first round.

11 Seed - Iowa St. Cyclones

Why They Can Win It: The Clones are coming off a big win in Manhattan, a game which showcased how good this team can be. In all my previews, I kept referring to the fact that Iowa State was good enough to win, but will come up a tad short. Well, if they can click like they did in one of the most hostile environments in the conference this season, they can take down some of the big boys. Craig Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap form a tremendous frontline, and both should be playing at the next level when their college careers are finished.

Why They Won't Win It: For all the talent they have, they won 4 conference games, 2 of which were vs low man Nebraska and one was vs Colorado before the Buffs learned to win. Outside of Brackins and Gilstrap they are really, really lean. Lean to the point that their third leading scorer left Ames midseason to return to his native land to play pro ball. Teams can often force Gilstrap and Brackins into taking bad shots, and when that pair isn't scoring, it is night-night time for the clones.

12 Seed - Nebraska Cornhuskers

Why They Can Win It: I'm not going to sugar coat it, the Huskers won't be cutting down the nets this year. In fact, I will pay each commenter to this thread $100 if the Huskers win the tournament.

Why They Won't Win It: In 9 of the Huskers 16 conference games they scored 60 pts or less. In order to win with such an anemic offense, one would need to play exceptional defense. Out of those same 16 conference games, opponents scored 70+ 12 times. Simple math tells you that they aren't playing the defense needed to beat teams.

Evan Pfaff, Managing Editor
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