Basketball

Monday Musings: Picking the 2023 Big 12 Tournament

Feb 11, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns interim head coach Rodney Terry and players react after a timeout is called during the first half against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Moody Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports ac

The best time of year has arrived.

Set your DVRs or do your best to avoid your boss this week. We’ve got a lot of basketball to watch over the next six days before Selection Sunday.

The Big 12 Tournament bracket has officially been set, and picking that bracket is where we start this week’s Musings.

No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Texas Tech (Wednesday at 6 p.m.)

It was an interesting weekend in Red Raider country. Texas Tech lost to Oklahoma State on Saturday then it was announced head coach Mark Adams has been suspended indefinitely for racially insensitive comments made to a player. As of this writing, Tech hasn’t even named an interim head coach. This is just the latest in some long-running rumblings of discontent with the head man in Lubbock.

Meanwhile, West Virginia finished its regular season with a big home win over Kansas State, likely securing their place in the NCAA Tournament field. The Athletic has them as an eight-seed as of this writing.

KenPom Prediction: 77-73, West Virginia
Stanz’s Pick: Mountaineers

No. 7 Oklahoma State vs. No. 10 Oklahoma (Wednesday at 8:30 p.m.)

After a stretch as one of the league’s hottest teams, Oklahoma State finished the regular season by losing five of its last six, but the one win did come in the regular season finale against Texas Tech. The Cowboys won both of these regular season games by double digits, but Oklahoma’s been playing good ball as of late and finished the year by winning two of three. I lean Cowboys in a very close one.

KenPom Prediction: 68-67, Oklahoma State
Stanz’s Pick: Cowboys

No. 4 Baylor vs. No. 5 Iowa State (Thursday at 11:30 a.m.)

This feels like a horrible spot for Iowa State. We saw how difficult it is to play a team twice in a week when Drake smashed Bradley in the Missouri Valley title game on Sunday, just one week after getting smashed in Peoria to end the regular season. The Cyclones won both of the games against the Bears by 15 points, though, so they could have the formula to stop that high-powered offense. I’m strongly leaning toward the Bears here, but it wouldn’t shock me at all to see the Cyclones playing on Friday.

KenPom Prediction: 69-68, Baylor
Stanz’s Pick: Bears

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 8 West Virginia (Thursday at 6 p.m.)

Despite losing their regular season finale, Kansas woke up on Monday with the inside track to potentially being the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. If they win this whole thing in Kansas City, they’ll definitely get that top spot. The Mountaineers had the Jayhawks on the ropes two weeks ago in Allen Fieldhouse. Can they finish the job the third time around?

Stanz’s Pick: Jayhawks

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 7 Oklahoma State (Thursday at 8:30 p.m.)

Back-to-back losses down the stretch might have knocked Texas from the Big 12 title race, but they proved how dangerous they are by smashing Kansas on Saturday to end the regular season. Rodney Terry’s team is more than good enough to win this event. Mike Boynton’s team is not.

Stanz’s Pick: Longhorns

No. 3 Kansas State vs. No. 6 TCU (Thursday at 8:30 p.m.)

Kansas State had its mid-January through mid-February swoon, but bounced back to win four straight and play some really good ball down the stretch. TCU can’t stay healthy long enough to string together a few weeks of good ball. I imagine this Frogs season will go down as one of TCU’s great “what ifs.”

KenPom Prediction: 74-73, Kansas State
Stanz’s Pick: Wildcats

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 4 Baylor (Friday at 6 p.m.)

Bill Self was seen lamenting how much better Baylor was than his team during the first meeting of these two clubs. The Jayhawks promptly got their revenge in game two by coming out with a 16-point win. This rubber match would be a fun one.

Stanz’s Pick: Jayhawks

No. 2 Texas vs. No. 3 Kansas State (Friday at 8:30 p.m.)

These two teams split with each taking the win on the other’s home floor. Kansas State did that by making waves early in league play and scoring 116 points. Texas did that by locking down in Manhattan and holding the Wildcats to 69 the second time around. Another fun rubber match that Texas gets the edge in due to their depth of weapons.

Stanz’s Pick: Longhorns

No. 1 Kansas vs. No. 2 Texas (Saturday at 5 p.m.)

Wow, way to go out on a limb here with the picks, Stanz. What an idiot. The reality is these were the two best teams in the league basically from start to finish. They split their two games in the regular season and Texas got their half of that just this past Saturday. Kansas’ spot on the one-line is already locked in, but could Texas jump up by winning in Kansas City? I think we’re going to find out.

Stanz’s Pick: Longhorns

More Musings

*** I hope you’ve already bought your Demarion Watson stock because it is soaring after his performance off the bench in Iowa State’s win over Baylor on Saturday. The freshman from Minneapolis’ ability to pass on the interior and cut for open buckets and dunks made him one of the biggest highlights of the win in Waco. He projects to be an absolute menace defensively, but Watson’s ceiling on both ends is very high.

*** How about Tre King? He played his best game as a Cyclone and had Fran Fraschilla singing his praises all afternoon on Saturday. Fran even said he sees Tre as a 12 points, eight-rebounds-a-night guy next season. That would probably make him a borderline All-Big 12 player. Sign me up.

*** I don’t know how much attention folks around here pay to Fred Hoiberg anymore, but The Mayor has had his team playing some great ball over the last few weeks, and Nebraska could secure its first postseason berth of the Hoiberg era later this week.

This program was left for dead, and their head coach was well on his way to the unemployment line before they turned it around to win six of their last eight, including a regular-season finale win over Iowa in Iowa City.

I know Cyclone fans can root for that last part no matter how disappointed they still are with Fred. The best part is Fred’s done it all with his son, Sam, playing a key rotational role for the Huskers.

The NIT is probably Nebraska’s best chance at the postseason, but don’t be shocked to see the Huskers make some noise in the Big Ten Tournament. This has been Fred’s best coaching job in more than a decade.

*** Congrats are in order for former Iowa State assistant coach William Small, who helped Kennesaw State reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history with a win over Liberty in the Atlantic Sun title game on Sunday.

*** Former Cyclone Tre Jackson‘s season came to an end on Sunday when his Western Carolina squad lost in the semifinals of the SoCon Tournament. He scored 22 points in the loss to Furman and averaged a team-high 15.8 points per game this year while shooting 40 percent from deep and nearly 90 percent from the free throw line.

This is one of the biggest positives of the transfer portal. Jackson spent several years as a bench piece at Iowa State and turned that into a starring opportunity at the mid-major level. He surely earned himself some money at the next level overseas in the process.

*** A quick Musings shout out to Iowa State signee, and one of the best high school basketball players in Iowa history, Audi Crooks for her 49-point performance in Saturday night’s Bishop Garrigan state title win over Newell-Fonda. The Mustangs had bested the Bears in each of Crooks’ first two years, and she finally was able to exact revenge on the only program to truly get the best of her in her four years.

Crooks finishes her career as one of the most dominant high school basketball players (boys or girls) this state has ever seen. It will be a long time before we ever see another player like her. If we do at all, that is.

*** Speaking of dominance, one last shout out to David Carr, who joined Cael Sanderson as the only Cyclones to win four Big 12 titles in a career late Sunday night with a thrilling sudden victory pin of Missouri’s Keegan O’Toole. Both matches between those wrestlers have delivered, and I’d be shocked if we don’t get round three in a few weeks at the NCAAs.

*** Iowa State signee Omaha Biliew‘s Waukee team will be going for its second state title in three years this week in downtown Des Moines. The Warriors will open with defending state champion Ames on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. Unfortunately for the Little Cyclones, last year’s hero, Tamin Lipsey, will be in Kansas City with the other Cyclones. I’d be surprised if we don’t see the Warriors playing for the title Friday night.

Jared Stansbury

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Jared a native of Clarinda, Iowa, started as the Cyclone Fanatic intern in August 2013, primarily working as a videographer until starting on the women’s basketball beat prior to the 2014-15 season. Upon earning his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Iowa State in May 2016, Jared was hired as the site’s full-time staff writer, taking over as the primary day-to-day reporter on football and men’s basketball. He was elevated to the position of managing editor in January 2020. He is a regular contributor on 1460 KXNO in Des Moines and makes regular guest appearances on radio stations across the Midwest. Jared resides in Ankeny with his four-year-old puggle, Lolo.

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