Ultimately, the Big 12 regular season ended in the same way it has the last 14 years: With Kansas as the champion. But this is the best overall conference in America according to Ken Pomeroy’s efficiency ratings, and eight of the 10 teams are projected to make the NCAA tournament, making the Big 12 tournament perhaps the most wide-open one of the week.
In other words, it’s going to be an entertaining four days of basketball in Kansas City.
Live Stream Info
The tournament starts on Wednesday, March 7, and concludes with the championship on Saturday, March 10. All nine games will be televised nationally on either ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU (full schedule and bracket can be found here), but if you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch a live stream of every Big-12 tournament game by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to their extensive Netflix-like streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live channels, including ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNU. You can sign up for “Hulu with Live TV” right here (this gives you access to their on-demand library and live TV, and you can then watch a live stream of the games on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
Sling TV: ESPN and ESPN2 are both included in the “Sling Orange” channel package, while ESPNU is in the “Sports Extra” add-on. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch all the games live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
DirecTV Now: ESPN and ESPN2 are both included in all of DirecTV Now’s four main channel packages, while ESPNU is included in the “Just Right,” “Go Big” and “Gotta Have It” bundles. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, plus you can get a free Amazon Fire TV if you prepay two months. Once signed up, you can watch all the games live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
With five wins in their last six games to capture the regular season crown, Kansas are the favorites. However, according to Ken Pomeroy’s projections, this is one of just four conference tournaments where the favorite’s odds at winning the championship are set at less than 30 percent:
That has a lot to do with the depth of the conference, but it’s also because Kansas hasn’t been quite as dominant as normal this year. They’re elite offensively, and they can shoot the lights out (17th in the country in three-pointers made per game, 20th in three-point percentage), but they can get into trouble defensively, as they rank just 61st in the country in effective field-goal percentage defense and 290th in defensive rebounding percentage.
Still, the Jayhawks improved down the stretch and beat both Texas Tech and West Virginia in the last month, so they have to be considered favorites.
As far as the biggest threats, Texas Tech lost four of its last five games of the season, but Keenan Evans was either out or ineffective with an injured toe for all of those defeats. He returned to score 23 points in a win over TCU in the regular season finale, and if he’s healthy, combined with Texas Tech’s ability to defend, the Red Raiders–who beat Kansas, West Virginia, Kansas State, Baylor and TCU earlier in the season–are certainly contenders to cut down the nets.
Others to watch are West Virginia, who has beat quarterfinal opponent Baylor twice already this season, are always candidates to make a deep run in tournament play because their style can be difficult to prepare for, as well as TCU, who comes in hot with four wins in their last five games.
In fact, the conference is so deep that even teams playing on the first day can be dangerous. Texas can struggle to score, but they also play elite defense. Oklahoma has fallen apart in the second half, but if Trae Young rediscovers his early-season form, he’s the kind of player who can take over an entire tournament. Oklahoma State struggled with inconsistency, but they also beat Texas Tech, West Virginia and Kansas (twice), so their ceiling is as high as anyone’s.
All-in-all, you have parity, you have several teams on the NCAA tournament bubble, and you have stars all over the place. It’s the recipe for what should be a thrilling Big 12 tournament.