This year, the Big 12 championship is headlined by the likes of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri. At the very least, the Big 12 championship figures to feature four solid NCAA Tournament teams. But several other teams can play their way into the tournament with solid performances in the Big 12 conference tournament. Today, the Big 12 championship begins with a few of those bubble teams, who now have a more uphill battle to get those precious bids.
At 12:30 p.m., at Ford Center in Oklahoma, the Big 12 championship starts with a less important game. Eighth seeded Nebraska faces ninth seeded Baylor, which made the NCAAs last year but dropped off this year. The winner will face top seeded, defending Big 12 and NCAA champion Kansas.
After that, the Big 12 championship will feature the Texas Longhorns, who are used to having a bye in the Big 12 tournament first round. This year, the Longhorns are a certain NCAA tournament team, but are not as strong as they were in past years. The fifth seeded Longhorns face last place Colorado today, with the winner to take on Kansas State tomorrow.
Kansas State is one of the bubble teams looking to get into the NCAAs with the Big 12 championship. But if the Wildcats face the Longhorns and lose tomorrow, their chances decrease heavily.
In the nightcap of the Big 12 championship first round, two more bubble teams are on display. Oklahoma State, the seventh seed, could find their way in by beating 10’th seeded Iowa State tonight at 7. But a subsequent win over second seeded Oklahoma the next day would be even bigger for the Cowboys’ hopes.
To end the night, Texas A&M seeks to clinch a third straight NCAA tournament bid, facing Texas Tech. The Aggies got a big boost by upsetting Missouri last weekend, and will face the Tigers again with a win tonight.
The Big 12 championship starts today and ends on Saturday, unlike in previous years., But just like in previous years, the Big 12 championship will have a huge impact on the top of the NCAA seeding, and on the bubble line.
With mid-major power Butler losing their conference tournament, one more scarce at-large bid has been taken away. There can be no more room for mishaps for Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M or their at-large competition.
The status of the Big 12 as a national power depends on these bubble programs inflating their NCAA Tournament bids this season, to keep up with the Big East, ACC and Big 10.
The Big 12 championship game itself could determine whether Oklahoma gets a number 1 NCAA seed, depending on if they get there or not. Kansas could take a number 2 seed with another Big 12 championship, in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for the Jayhawks.
Suite 101- “2009 Big 12 Conference Tournament Schedule” college-basketball.suite101.com/article.cfm/2009_big_12_conference_tournament_schedule
Associated Press- “Plenty at stake in Big 12 tourney” www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jqKsvBSH4nMXbIV6Ck-1B4pEY14QD96RCIG00