Tahlequah Daily Press

OSU Sports

March 12, 2014

Brutal Big 12 tournament promises to be wide open

(Continued)

In that case, here are five things that fans SHOULD worry about:

• BUBBLE WATCH:
Oklahoma State isn’t the only team on the NCAA tournament bubble. Baylor (21-10) would feel much better with a win or two, while West Virginia (17-14) hopes the momentum it picked up by knocking off Kansas last weekend will propel it to enough wins in Kansas City to make a case on Selection Sunday. “I think if we won two we’d be in great shape,” said Mountaineers coach Bob Huggins, “but I think if we can win that first one that we would be pretty good.”

• CHAMPIONSHIP CHALLENGE: Kansas is the only current member to have won the Big 12 tournament since 2005 — twice since then, Missouri won the title. In fact, Oklahoma and Iowa Stare are the only current schools besides the Jayhawks and Cowboys to have won. “No matter what people say, no matter what other teams do,” Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart said, “it goes through Kansas.”

• STAR WATCH: There will be stars-a-plenty at the Big 12 tournament. Andrew Wiggins of Kansas is a potential No. 1 draft pick, Iowa State’s Melvin Ejim is the Big 12 player of the year and Smart is also a potential lottery pick. But one player who won’t be on the floor is Jayhawks center Joel Embiid, who’s been ruled out for the Big 12 tournament and unlikely for the first week of the NCAA tournament because of a stress fracture in his back.

• HOMECOURT ADVANTAGE: Local schools Kansas and Kansas State always pack the Sprint Center, but Iowa State also tends to draw well — its campus is a reasonable drive from Kansas City. That means it’ll be tough to secure a ticket to Thursday’s first session, when the Cyclones play the Wildcats and Kansas is also in action in a tantalizing double-header.

• LONGSHOTS: Even longshots have coaches concerned this year. Texas Tech is the No. 9 seed but has wins over Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas on its resume. And nobody thought TCU would go winless in the league, so the No. 10 seed Horned Frogs could be primed for a first-round upset of the Bears. “We’re going to do our best to keep within striking distance, like we have all year long, and give ourselves a chance down the stretch,” TCU coach Trent Johnson said.

___

AP Sports Writer Cliff Brunt in Stillwater, Okla., contributed to this report.

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