Kansas Jayhawks: Predicting the Big 12 Tournament

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Mar 3, 2015; Lawrence, KS, USA; Kansas Jayhawks guard Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) cuts down a portion of the net after the game against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Allen Fieldhouse. Kansas won their 11th consecutive Big 12 Championship 76-69. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterfinals — Thursday, March 12, 2015

Game 3, 11:30 a.m. (ESPN2)

(4) Baylor (23-8, 11-7) vs. (5) West Virginia (23-8, 11-7)

Season Series: Baylor, 2-0; W, 87-69, Feb. 7 at West Virginia; W, 78-66, Feb. 28 at home

Summary: These two teams have the same overall and conference records, so will we have a game that just never ends? No, but it should be a close one.

Feb 21, 2015; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears forward Rico Gathers (2) dunks during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats at Ferrell Center. Baylor won 69-42. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Both teams are very strong on the rebounding front, and are probably the two most physical teams in the Big 12.

Bob Huggins’ Mountaineers foul pretty much every time down the court, and the Bears’ Rico Gathers is hands down the best rebounder in the conference (11.7 per game) — and he isn’t that way because he’s soft.

West Virginia’s press didn’t seem to bother Baylor in the last game, as the Bears only turned it over eight times. The Jayhawks averaged 15 in two games they played against the Mountaineers.

Head coach Scott Drew always has his guys playing well in this tournament, and West Virginia has two starting guards not at full strength.

Look for a hard-fought, close game throughout, with Baylor pulling away in the final seconds.

Prediction: Baylor 75, West Virginia 72

Game 4, 1:30 p.m. (ESPN2)

(1) Kansas (24-7, 13-5) vs. (9) TCU*

Season Series: Kansas, 2-0; W, 64-61, Jan. 28 at TCU; W, 81-72, Feb. 21 at home

Summary: Despite the fact the Jayhawks won their 11th straight conference title and TCU lost 14 Big 12 games, Kansas  beat the Horned Frogs by just single-digits both games this season.

Mar 7, 2015; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners forward TaShawn Thomas (35) attempts a shot against Kansas Jayhawks forward Landen Lucas (33) during the second half at Lloyd Noble Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In fact, TCU had a chance in the final seconds to win its game at home.

While the Jayhawks have dominated the regular season, they’ve only won the tournament once in the past three years, after winning five times in the previous six seasons.

They should be at full strength (minus Cliff Alexander who is dealing with ineligibility issues), after missing Perry Ellis and Brannen Greene in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma.

And a full-strength KU team in Kansas City just isn’t going to lose to TCU — especially considering the Horned Frogs only conference win away from home during the regular season was at Texas Tech.

Prediction: Kansas 71, TCU 66

Game 5, 6:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

(2) Iowa St. (22-8, 12-6) vs. (7) Texas*

Season Series: Iowa St., 2-0; W, 89-86, Jan. 26 at home; W, 85-77, Feb. 21 at Texas

Summary: Hey Iowa St., you finished second. Your prize? A match-up with a team that has arguably the best freshman in the conference in Myles Turner, and was picked to challenge Kansas for the championship this year.

Mar 2, 2015; Ames, IA, USA; Iowa State Cyclones head coach Fred Hoiberg talks to his team against the Oklahoma Sooners at James H. Hilton Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Sure, Texas has been disappointing, but the talent is there. They are still the fifth-ranked rebounding team in the country, an area Iowa St. somewhat struggles in, as they are ranked 78th.

However, in one important area, scoring, the Cyclones rank 9th in the country at 79.8 points per game. They also are eighth in assists per game, and 14th in field goal percentage.

Except they have been below their scoring average five of their past seven games, which means they could struggle with a good defensive team like Texas, that is first in the country in blocks, and 36th in points allowed.

The difference is in the coaching department.

Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg rises to big occasions, most recently beating Kansas this year and winning the Big 12 Tournament last season (by beating Kansas then as well).

Texas has underachieved this season, and that will be magnified during the tournament. If so, the Longhorns will be firmly on the bubble come Selection Sunday.

Prediction: Iowa St. 78, Texas 70

Game 6, 8:00 p.m. (ESPNU)

(3) Oklahoma (21-9, 12-6) vs. (6) Oklahoma St. (18-12, 8-10)

Season Series: Oklahoma, 2-0; W, 82-65, Jan. 17 at home; W, 64-56, Jan. 31 at Oklahoma St.

Summary: The Bedlam Series basketball style has been one-sided this year, but that will change come Thursday.

Feb 18, 2015; Stillwater, OK, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys guard Phil Forte III (13) after a made basket during a game against the Iowa State Cyclones at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Iowa State won 70-65. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn’t be the first time Oklahoma beat a team twice during the regular season, then lost to them in a big postseason game — which Jayhawk fans know well.

The Sooners are a tough team to figure out. They beat Kansas, Baylor, Iowa St., Texas, West Virginia, and Oklahoma St. (x2), yet they were swept by Kansas State, and their best non-conference win was Butler.

Coming off an emotional high of beating Kansas (undermanned or not), will bring out their inconsistent nature in this game.

The Cowboys on the other hand have been very consistent lately — at losing (five of six).

So, what would make anyone decide to pick them in this game?

Maybe because it’s the Big 12 Conference and, outside of Kansas winning, anything can happen.

Look for sharp-shooter Phil Forte to get the hot hand from behind the 3-point arc, as the Cowboys pull off an upset that just might save head coach Travis Ford his job.

Prediction: Oklahoma St. 81, Oklahoma 80

*Projected to play based on first-round victory

Next: Breakdown -- Semifinals