Big 12 Conference Tournament Preview, Odds & Best Bets
March Madness is here, with some smaller conferences having already handed out NCAA Tournament bids, major-conference tournaments in action this week, and the Big Dance a little more than a week away.
The upcoming action in the Big 12 should be especially intriguing, with seven teams from this conference heading straight for the field of 68. That includes Baylor, which is likely in line for the No. 2 overall seed behind Gonzaga. Regardless of their upcoming results in Kansas City, also making plans for a trip to Indianapolis for the NCAA Tournament are Kansas, Texas, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma.
Let’s take a look at the odds.
Spare a thought for Oklahoma, which not long ago was 14-5 overall (9-4 Big 12) and in contention for the second seed in Kansas City. The Sooners have since lost four in a row, dropped to the No. 7 seed, and must play a first-round game against Iowa State (the top six seeds get byes to the quarterfinals). Their path thereafter would include Kansas in the quarters, either Texas or Texas Tech in the semis, and then probably Baylor in the championship game. That’s a rough road just to win a conference title.
At -133, Baylor is favored over the entire rest of the field. But based on the competition level and their own current form, the Bears are not going to treat a Big 12 Tournament title as a given. After returning from a three-week Covid-19 pause, they struggled with Iowa State (won 77-72), suffered their first loss of the season to Kansas by 13 points, and needed overtime against West Virginia. Head coach Scott Drew’s squad has since gotten back on track with routine victories over Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, but that sample size of recent success is small compared to the dominance through the first 17 games of this 2020-21 campaign.
Big 12 Tournament best bets
With Baylor no longer unbeatable, I’m willing to go big or go home in the Big 12 and take a stab at a relative longshot. The fact that Oklahoma is more than five times less likely West Virginia, Texas, and Oklahoma State to cut down the nets in Kansas City is a bit absurd. Sure, having to play an extra game instead of getting a bye isn’t a great thing; still, Wednesday’s date with Iowa State should be little more than a practice session and perhaps even an effective way for the Sooners’ to find their legs before things start getting serious in the quarterfinals. It cannot be forgotten that Oklahoma was once 9-4 in the Big 12 and that three of its four recent losses have come to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma State again, and Texas by a combined eight points in regulation. With Austin Reaves, Brady Manek, De’Vion Harmon, and Umoja Gibson, this team has the talent to turn things around in a hurry.
My second favorite play is Oklahoma State at +800. Simply being a part of the postseason means the Cowboys are playing with house money, as it was assumed they would be banned until they appealed their 2020-21 punishment. OSU boasts the projected No. 1 NBA Draft pick in Cade Cunningham, and March is when superstars really take over. Heck, he has already begun to play by his best basketball of the season and as a result his team has plenty of momentum heading into the Big 12 Tournament.
Pickswise is the home of March Madness Predictions. Check out all of our March Madness Picks, including daily March Madness Parlays throughout the NCAA Tournament.