Official Husker Locker Blog
2010 Mar 09
BIG 12 TOURNAMENT: Your Phone Dome Primer
No. 1 Kansas (29-2) The Big 12’s Tiffany program has developed a hard edge in the Bill Self era and a sixth sense for winning tight games. Guard Sherron Collins knows when to attack a vulnerable opponent on the ropes, and center Cole Aldrich adjusts more shots than he blocks, which is plenty. If freshman shooter Xavier Henry is knocking down his 3-pointers, KU morphs into a pick-your-poison squad.
No. 2 Kansas State (24-6) Ignore that loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 season finale; the Wildcats are built for a Phone Dome run so long as the referee’s whistles keep tweeting consistently. KSU shoots more than 30 free throws per game; at that rate, you can afford to make only 66 percent of them. Tough draw with Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals; lose there, and Kansas State could drop as far as a four seed.
No. 3 Baylor (24-6) The Bears claw out more than seven blocks a game. The BU crew can score - but its secret to success is defensive rebounds and the aforementioned block party. Forwards Ekpe Udoh and Quincy Acy can match up with any frontcourt in the league.
No. 4 Texas A&M (22-8) A quick check of the stats reveals little about the success of this team; the Aggies are in the middle of the pack of nearly every category, and don’t lead any of them. A&M simply wins close games, and has the advantage of a go-to player (guard Donald Sloan) that other Big 12 teams don’t enjoy. The very definition of a sum being greater than its parts.
No. 5 Missouri (22-9) The Tigers probably stamped their Big Dance ticket with an overtime win over Iowa State last Wednesday, but they’d like to leave nothing to chance in an opening-round game against stinker Nebraska. Mizzou would sorely love a third game against KU at a neutral site; to get there, Tiger guards must perfect their drive-and-kick style over two preparatory games.
No. 6 Texas (23-8) The Longhorns are doing a swan dive into a empty pool in the last two months with a 6-8 record; UT has forgotten how to feed its best player, Damion James, with the ball consistently. Hey - that’s what you get when Rick Barnes merely wants to act as a conveyor belt to the NBA. Texas should slay Iowa State - although the Cyclones seem to have found a little life in these final weeks - but Baylor, which awaits in the quarterfinals, is not a good matchup.
No. 7 Oklahoma State (21-9) The games aren’t being played inside Gallagher-Iba Arena, so OSU will have to, you know, man up a bit in the Phone Dome. With James Anderson, newly minted player of the year, anything is possible. With OSU’s so-so defense and effort, anything is possible in the other direction, too.
No. 8 Colorado (15-15) Defense-optional against just about every ball club other than Nebraska, the Buffaloes would like a two-day stay in KC, which means beating Texas Tech in the first round, then losing honorably to Kansas in the quarterfinals. Such a combo probably gives CU an outside shot at an NIT berth. The Buffs are a three-man team, essentially, of Cory Higgins, Alec Burks and Marcus Relphorde complimented by some good ball-handlers and shooters. Colorado shoots 77 percent at the free throw line - a league best.
No. 9 Texas Tech (16-14) We hardly got to know Pat Knight; if the Red Raiders lose their eighth straight game to end the season, there’s a chance the Knight Era in Lubbock is over. Tech lacks the athletes to play good defense, but the motion offense always seems to create shots and points. Should be a fun matchup with CU.
No. 10 Oklahoma (13-17) Little could revive the Sooners at this point. OU’s talented freshmen are burnt to a crisp - still playing but getting less effective with the day. Star guard Willie Warren hasn’t played in a month. Oklahoma is DOA in KC. Big loss to Oklahoma State awaits head coach Jeff Capel.
No. 11 Iowa State (15-16) ISU has a pulse! The Cyclones took Missouri to the wire and beat Kansas State in Manhattan in the last week, so Texas can’t go to sleep on Curtis Brackins and Marquis Gilstrap. Iowa State isn’t deep enough to win two games in a row, but for a single-shot wonder, one never knows.
No. 12 Nebraska (14-17) NU could not have drawn a better first-round opponent, really, than Missouri, a team small enough to exploit, playing a style that Doc Sadler’s teams have unlocked in the past. Does Nebraska have one upset in it? One? If so - Sadler will get some of the criticism off his back. The Huskers have to shoot lights out to win - but that is possible.
Sherron Collins, Kansas: He’ll be a more valuable pro than he is college player, but Collins is absolutely the best player in Kansas City with the shot or game clock running down.
Denis Clemente, Kansas State: He can create his own 3-point in the time it takes a hummingbird to flap its wings. The bigger question is: Will he make the shot? Clemente lacks a conscience, so he’ll keep shooting, and shooting, and shooting.
James Anderson, Oklahoma State: When he’s on, he goes off for 30 points, and there’s not much stopping him. He can change the way an opposing defense attacks OSU, and when that happens, Anderson’s teammates benefit the most.
Zaire Taylor, Missouri: When the Tigers need a clutch basket, the ball magically appears in Taylor’s hands to take it. He is neither Mizzou’s best offensive or defensive player. But, in a pinch, he gets the big looks.
Epke Udoh, Baylor: Unlike Kansas’ Cole Aldrich, Udoh gets a number of his blocks away from the basket, closing out on shooters. Averaging four blocks per game and altering many more shots, Udoh is an effective deterrent to perimeter teams.
Five Wild Cards
Marquis Gilstrap, Iowa State: Opposing teams can limit Curtis Brackins, but not if forward Gilstrap is rattling home 3-pointers. When he’s hot, ISU becomes a load to handle. Plus - he’s the Big 12’s most aggressive rebounder. Not necessarily the best - but the most aggressive.
Marcus Denmon, Missouri: This 42 percent 3-point shooter has to be marked everywhere on the floor. Look track of him, and pay the price.
Curtis Kelly, Kansas State: With enough talent to take over when he chooses to, Kelly is a frustrating enigma who bursts for three or four minutes at a time, then retreats back into the woodwork. If he realized his potential in the Big 12, and NCAA Tournaments, KSU is top five team.
Marcus Morris, Kansas: The garbage man, who scores a lot off of offensive rebounds. He’s more consistent than a wild card, but, on some nights, he’s KU’s best player.
Avery Bradley, Texas: One of those talented UT freshmen who’s likely to make the leap to the NBA after this year or next. He’s mostly a stand-up shooter, but he possesses strong passer abilities, too, when the mood strikes. Some NBA Draft analysts think Bradley’s performance in the postseason may determine whether or not he declares for the Draft.
Favorite: Kansas. No brainer.
DOA: Oklahoma. More than any team, OU has zero hope or interest in this tournament. Nebraska will head to KC more optimistic.
Dark Horse: Oklahoma State. Has there ever been a more dangerous No. 7 seed than OSU? The Cowboys should throttle Oklahoma on opening night, then draw No. 2 seed Kansas State, whom OSU already beat in Manhattan. Any team that has the Big 12 player of the year (James Anderson) can burn through a conference tournament.
Wild Card: Texas. If the talented freshmen wake up from their extended slumber over the last half of the regular season, the wheels are greased for a nice run. Baylor and Kansas State are talented and playing well. But both are beatable.
Best first-round game: Colorado vs. Texas Tech. The Sprint Center will be empty for the opener of the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday, but there might not be a more entertaining game in the whole party. Expect one team - and maybe both - to hit 90 points.
Worst first-round game: Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma. It’s going to be ugly, the Cowboys will eventually grind out a double-digit win, and OU will limp home.
Best Potential Quarterfinal Game: Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State. Especially considering OSU beat the Wildcats in Manhattan. Two of the more athletic teams in the Big 12.
Colorado 95 Texas Tech 90
Missouri 69 Nebraska 60
Oklahoma State 72 Oklahoma 59
Texas 80 Iowa State 69
Kansas 92 Colorado 69
Kansas State 67 Oklahoma State 65
Baylor 78 Texas 74
Missouri 69 Texas A&M 63
Kansas 73 Missouri 69
Baylor 70 Kansas State 66
Kansas 85 Baylor 77
Tournament MVP: Sherron Collins, Kansas
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